E is a great eater. She's always had a good appetite and she's not faddy. The only no no so far has been rice pudding. I can live with that. I, however, am a faddy eater and D and I felt really strongly that we needed to do everything we could to try and ensure that her relationship with food was healthy, sociable and positive.
She fed well and regularly but by fourteen weeks old she was drinking in the region of 56-60oz of formula a day. 11oz bottles each time. We were getting through boxes of baby milk faster than the speed of light. So, on Alison's (amazing health visitor, we are blessed!) recommendation, we started weaning at 17 weeks. She was ready. And she just loved food!
So. This was what we did....
There were rules
- eat socially and together as much as possible
- don't get angry
- eat what you're giving her to show her it's ok
- always offer water
- celebrate as much as possible
- get in the highchair as soon as possible (the first weeks were a little trial and error as she was only just starting to sit unaided)
- It's not ok to show her our food fads and we'll eat it if it's presented to us. Bork.
End of July. 17 weeks. The rule here (another one, apologies) was home make as much as possible but buying pouches for convenience was absolutely fine too. Our favourites included Ella and Plum but I'm sure it wasn't limited to that. I would make flavours in batches and freeze them in cube trays and then defrost them as required, and would make them softer by adding formula or a little cooking water. Annabel Karmel's recipe book was useful, I could never get my puree to be as smooth or liquid as the pouches. E didn't seem to mind and it helped us move on quicker. Until I had E I had a strawberry allergy, so I avoided red berries, but we tried everything. Avocado & pear (AKA Green and Green), apricot, and root vegetable combinations. I never tried new things for three days before adding something new to the repertoire. I had an issue with puree-ing meat unless it was in a soup or something so waited until she could handle lumps or start finger foods.
Her dexterity wasn't good enough for finger foods at 17 weeks, but we would let her lick the spoon. It resulted in brilliant pictures to show her future loves.
We just played around, starting with a bit at lunch and within three weeks she was having a solid "meal" three times a day, along side 3 x 110z bottles. The milk bill was getting cheaper...
These were more hit and miss and I guess after a few failed attempts at cucumber and the like, I backed off finger food a bit. My lovely friend Charlie is a baby-led weaning queen, and her success with her daughter inspired me to give it another go. By early September, about 6 weeks in, E was exploring finger food happily, starting with breadsticks and gradually getting braver. I think my mistake in the early days had been making what I was giving her quite small for fear of choking. As soon as I gave her bigger sticks of carrot, or whatever, she found it much easier to pick up and manipulate and this really helped. Her first tooth arrived around the same time, which must have helped, and I imagine veg sticks felt incredibly satisfying on those sore gums! Within a month, she would try anything put in front of her. Cold meats, all fruit and veg, baby crisps and the like. We'd make a point of making lunchtimes at home solely BLW, perhaps with a yogurt for afters. Dinners would be combination of finger food and something hot off a spoon.
During this time, we'd been gradually introducing more flavours and tastes to E's repertoire, including trying to give her what we were having. The fruit/veg combos eventually being more like a mash and if she was having what we were having (casserole, or anything in the slow cooker being her favourite all time meals) we would never break it down more than what you could do by hand with a fork. Six months arrived so we started adding porridge and cereal and dairy stuff in there too. She was polishing off healthy sized portions of everything, and the milk quickly dropped to morning and evening bottle only. I have gotten over the smell of fish and cook her fish pie in portions for when we don't eat together. D might have tried banana. Once.
|6 months and the first encounter with yogurt.|
In light of how well she was doing, we made the decision that October half term (when she turned 7 months) we were no longer making her anything different, except "freezer meals" and she would eat what we ate. We stopped using salt when we cook (and now we don't even notice the lack of salt - good for us too!) and we all just dig in. I cut stuff into chunks for her and she uses a fork or her hands to feed herself. I administer yogurt as it gets thrown around otherwise and we let her have fruit pouches as a pudding straight out of the pouch.
Sharing this journey has made us eat FAR healthier with more variety and more exploration of new things. E likes strong flavours, spice, and I call her fruit bat because she inhales fruit, satsumas in particular, in seconds. She also regularly refuses to eat cake and threw most of her easter egg on the floor. She has juice if we're eating out and when she's really poorly, but the rest of the time she drinks water like it's going out of fashion. At eleven months I took away bottles and gave her milk in sippy cups. We moved her over to cow's milk shortly after. At thirteen months she has bedtime milk and morning milk is intermittent.
I am so proud of her. Mealtimes are a joy and she loves to try new things. I probably did lots of things the rule books said I couldn't, but it worked out well and she's just fine! Next step is mastering her spoon skills and then getting her involved in cooking. I'm not sure when kids start using knives as well as forks... If anyone could enlighten me that would be cool.
|Water is better from mummy's sippy cup.|
I think that's about right. I clearly am no weaning expert. This is just our experience. Pick my brains if something wasn't clear! I hope that we have helped her embark on a journey of loving food, loving eating and enjoying it healthily. I feel quite confident that we have.