Part one of our weaning adventure…

Hello and welcome to another round of ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’; a common game we play as parents as our weeny smalls stare up at us expectantly with all the trust in the world. Meanwhile, we peer back with an ‘oh god, I hope this works’ grimace and an ‘oooh this is going to be great!’ sing song.

I started writing this blog weeks ago, in a right old huff. I had made baby a dahl, her first time with garlic and onion and turmeric and…well, more flavour than she’d ever encountered before. 

She fucking hated it. And I felt exhausted.

But baby, I made it special and it’s full of good things and I’m tired.

I quickly peeled a banana and she happily stuffed that into her mouth instead. Our ultimate go to.

The time to start weaning came round so very quickly. The first 6 months flew by. And naturally I felt completely under prepared and started all the ‘why haven’t you read up on this more Vicky?!’ self berating. 

But I had attended the NCT ‘Introduction to solids’ course with my NCT friends and the British Red Cross first aid course because the **WHAT IF BABY CHOKES?** fear is real, let me tell you.

We actually didn’t start her on solids until almost 7 months and she’s just approaching 9 months now. The reason for the delay was threefold; we were gearing up to move house (from a rental property back home, the home we had been renovating for months prior…and are still finishing now), hubs was on a work trip in China then Aus and baby caught a bout of bronchiolitis which was a real toughy on her. Well, us too. 

So when we started I already felt a bit behind. 

I had ordered all of Amazon in the lead up to the big day. Bamboo Bamboo plates and spoons, various styles of bibs, a Doidy cup. I was sold on baby led weaning as our approach. A term I had ZERO idea about previously and couldn’t even fathom out what it even meant. Weaning. Baby led. Brain explosion.

I find similarities in the weaning phase to breastfeeding. Baby led weaning is currently sold as the best approach, akin to breastfeeding. So pureeing is the formula equivalent. Well that’s what my brain did with the information as we passed round packets of food on the NCT course, ooohing and ahhhhing at the ingredients list in a knowing but altogether unknowing manner. So, hello all the pressure again. All the comparison. Here we go again. Mum guilt if it doesn’t go to plan and the dreaded stares if you fetch out a pouch of Ella’s or similar from your bag. I know people who have genuinely felt this shame. It’s so sad and tiring to feel so endlessly judged in all aspects of raising your kid.

Salt content.

Sugar content.

Iron levels.

I’m swiftly working out that at the turn of each new phase of baby’s life, I lose it a bit. Turns out I am not amazing with change, it really throws me off. So that bodes well. Just when you think you’ve found a groove with whatever current phase you’re in, WHAM it’s time to try something new and your daily schedule gets buggered and you are back to not being able to distinguish between your arse and your elbow. Or any other joint for that matter. But you soon catch up. It evens out eventually and you find your footing.

I followed cool accounts on Instagram that on a good day I’ll find inspiring and on a bad one I just feel a million miles from as I eff and blind at the screen.

Anyway, here’s some info I thought I’d share as baby and I work all this out together; what she likes, what she doesn’t. I love watching all this unfold, a whole new world for her and more grub for the dog as he lurks nearby before frantically cleaning up the aftermath around the highchair. Don’t get me started on baby’s little pincer grip that’s developing as she focuses so, so hard on picking up single bits of quartered blueberry.

For the first few weeks she really did only have 2 meals a day and they were largely avocado and banana based. Maybe some sweet potato and some soft pear. It took time for me to try her on new things and she surprises me with what she takes to, still. I of course got momentarily caught up in the desire to make sure she just hadn’t veggies first off, and not much fruit. That lasted about two weeks. She’s still largely a veg gal but love she herself some sweet sweet fruit. I mean, who doesn’t?

I am absolutely NOT an expert in this area at all by the way and my culinary skills are, well, I have to follow recipes. I can’t toss things in a pan and make them at all edible. Last night, my dinner was fake chicken nuggets. That was it. Beige.

I am taking heaps of suggestions from other mums on Instagram. Some I know, some I don’t. And ain’t that great? There’s a real community around weaning, people sharing their hits and their misses and thank god for that. Big love to Emma, Tash, Lindsey and my NCT pals for sharing all their inspo along the way.

THE EQUIPMENT

Here’s what we went for and some honest comments about each…Links to items are in bold grey below…

Stokke Tripp Trapp highchair. Did we fall for it? The fact that the people that have these RAVE about them so therefore it was the obvious choice? Well, maybe. But I did do my homework too and almost bought a Baby Dan version but in the end finally opted for the Stokke and to be honest, have had no issues with it. Love the wooden design as I’m really trying to limit plastic so I was always going to opt for a wooden one and the way it grows with the child. I bought the tray that goes with it even though the idea is to push baby right up to the table and this again has worked well for us as if we get her too near the silicon mat (see below) on the table, her grabby mitts just want to play with that instead of the food. I also got the baby insert cushion to steady her and the harness too. But couldn’t work out how to use the harness so didn’t bother. So in a nutshell, the verdict:

  • Highchair – big old yes
  • Tray – yes
  • Baby cushion – yes
  • Harness – don’t bother (UPDATE: bother. See my part two here for a note on that)

Silicon placemat. Really good and use it every day. So basically while baby is playing with the food on her highchair tray, I might use the mat to smoosh up some banana with a fork.

Doidy cup. Really love this and baby is learning to sip so well from it. A NCT friend told us how they had been recommended to her, so I purchased and haven’t tried any sippy cup alternatives so far. Took a bit of practice, and of course I still hold the bottom of the cup while she sips/gnaws at it. Pictured below in blue.

Skip Hop insulated food tin //
Doidy cup //
Bamboo Bamboo spoon

Bamboo Bamboo spoons. Love these but haven’t tried any others so? Pictured above.

Bamboo Bamboo plate. It’s gorgeous and clearly an Instagram win, but currently it’s in the cupboard. Think i’ll fish it out again soon. It has a sucker bottom to stop it being tossed on the floor but if you have a wooden table, sucking it to a silicon type placemat would help. Elodie has successfully dislodged it from its base though so not quite baby proof so far and many other parents agree.

The gorgeous Bamboo Bamboo fox plate
Not Elodie proof then…

Bibs. Started off with just neck ones with little scoopy catchall bits at the bottom. Then realised quite quickly that this shit is messy so now have a range of full sleeved ones from Bumkins. Opted for ones that tie round then neck instead of velcro or poppers as it helps to get a tighter fit to save the clothes underneath.

Large mat for the floorgot this one and it looks nice and you can sling it in the washing machine but as far wiping it down its not great. It perma sits under the highchair.

Insulated food tin – got this from Skip Hop and it’s great. Basically for her lunches I steam veg in the morning and pop them in here to keep warm and ready for her lunch. Good for on the go too to retain heat. Pictured above in cow print.

Baby nutri-bullet – this was gifted to us and I thought after the NCT food course that it was just another marketing fad targeted at mums. But actually it’s pretty handy. You could defo just use an existing whizzer thing though if you have an adult size one. The baby one comes with little pots for the fridge that you can turn a dial on to set the best before date.

THE SCHEDULE

So 2 months into weaning, baby is on 3 meals a day roughly about 8.30am, 12 noon and 5pm. It took some working out to get to this point though, another stress inducer. I didn’t know how to get her onto 3 meals because at first her daily consumption of solids started out as more of a brunch than breakfast because after her morning bottle she would just want to nap straight away. So one day I let her do just half of her morning bottle in bed with me then took her downstairs in her little PJs and sat her in her highchair while I prepped some porridge. And from then on we have got into the swing of 3 meals a day. 

  • 8am – bottle of milk, around 180ml
  • 8.30am – breakkie
  • 9ish – nap
  • 11ish – bottle of milk, again around 180ml
  • 12ish – lunch
  • 1pm – nap
  • 3ish – bottle – anyones guess how much
  • 5pm – dinner
  • 6.30 – bottle in bed with mama. Just the loveliest moments here as she gets dozy.
  • 7pm – night night piglet

THE FEEDING STYLE; COMBI FEEDING

So I am following what I did back in breastfeeding phase. I am mostly doing baby led weaning/feeding and maybe one meal a day will be mush/puree. Most of the time this is her dinner. I must say, baby led weaning is really awesome. Elodie is developing her dexterity so so well, I love watching her try and pick up a single quarter of blueberry with her chubby fingers. It’s enough to make my heart melt. But as often discussed with my NCT pals, if she was only doing purees, she would still bloody well eventually know how to hold a sodding banana and feed herself right? 

FOOD PREP

I am largely steaming all veg and fruit. Things like spinach or butter beans I will prep in a saucepan on the hob in hot water for a bit before mushing. I was steaming everything on the hob too initially, with a large saucepan and a metal colander thing. But we now have a steam oven, one John acquired many moons ago that has been sitting in our shed for years until we made room for it as part of the extension. 

Don’t ask me how long I steam things for. It’s anyones guess. Sometimes I set it to 15 mins, then add another 5 on and prod it all until you know, it’s fucking soft?

THE GRUB

Let’s start with breakfasts. Here are the winners:

Oaty fingers. She loves these and might even eat two in one sitting! Learned the recipe on the NCT Introduction to Solids course. You can make them in the evening and leave them in the fridge, so quick and easy.

  • One mashed banana
  • Handful of oats
  • Some grated pear
  • Chopped blueberries
  • Sprinkle of ground almond
  • Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
  • Oat or Almond milk to form a paste – not too much! (Or milk of your choice…or formula)
  • Grease a small tin and pour in the mixture
  • 20-25 mins in a 180 degree oven
  • Let cool and then cut into fingers

Sometimes these come out more gloopy than others but that’s ok. Baby will make a gloopy mess of them anyway in the end! When she’s done I offer her finger foods as below.

Porridge. Sometimes she’s into this, others not. But when she is its a mix of whizzed up oats, crushed raspberries, mashed banana, ground almonds, coconut/almond/oat milk. 

Finger foods: Slices of soft peeled pear, nectarine or kiwi. Avocado fingers. Banana with the skin left on a little to help with her grip.

BB Bread from Young Gums book. Again one to make at night and super easy. I will put mashed banana or avocado on it. Sometimes some smooth peanut butter.

I made some muffins last week (not your recipe Lindsey, I need to do that one ASAP!). I renamed them ‘ruffins’ or ‘not-good-enuffins’. I think that tells you how they turned out. Solid as a rock mate. But bless her, she still had a good go on them before almost killing the dog as she eventually hurled it to the floor. 

Anyone have a non cheesy, savoury muffin recipe that could work nicely at breakfast time? Light and airy preferably…

Oaty finger happiness
Fruity porridge and pear fingers
The ‘BB Bread’ from the Young Gums book
First try of kiwi…now she loves it!
When all else fails…banana! Peeled this way makes it good for gripping

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Now on to lunch

When she’s eating her breakkie, I will pop a selection of the below in peeled finger form into the steamer ready for her lunch:

  • Broccoli florets. She LOVES broccoli.
  • Green beans, top and tailed. Again, a big big win which really surprised me.
  • Sweet Potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Courgette
  • Red Pepper
  • Baby corn
  • Apple

For some lunchtime protein too I might mash up some kidney beans and form them into a little, well, poo for want of a better description. Sometimes she will eat it, sometimes the dog will.

Avocado fingers usually feature at lunchtime too.

I might give her more fruity fingers too after her veg, so mango or mashed up raspberry and banana (a real fave) and if she hasn’t eaten much of the veg i’ll sneak some into this and trick her into eating the veg. Cue evil laugh. 

Absolutely steaming
A black bean ‘poo’
Loving it
Squash
LOVES the broccoli

———————————————

Dinners

So I don’t know why but I tend to give her mush for dinner. Honestly don’t know how I settled on that idea. Maybe they’re more easily digested before bed? God knows. Anyway I started off steaming and whizzing up in the baby nutri bullet whatever combination I fancied:

  • Brussel sprouts, butter beans, sweet potato and spinach
  • Broccoli, chickpeas, carrot and kale
  • Butternut squash, broccoli, carrot and green beans
  • Broccoli, parsnip, carrots, chickpeas and spinach

And now we have moved onto actual recipes with spices and onion and garlic…ideally stuff John and I can have too so that we’re not having to think about creating separate meals. 

My  friend Emma recommended these organic baby pasta shells from Boots and the Jamie Oliver 7 veg pasta sauce which I batch made last week and tried on baby. She liked!

But our absolute winner so far is this Lentil Ragu. She LOVES it. I made a big batch for us all last week. The chunkier version was for John and I, accompanied by spaghetti. Then I whizzed up some of the sauce itself, skipped the spaghetti part and gave to baby and my lord above, her face! 

On the salt front, I use Kallo organic very low salt vegetable stock

Next on the list is a low salt chilli for us all.

The pots that come with the Baby Nutribullet, where you can spin the dials to set the best before date…
Making Jamie Oliver’s 7 veg sauce
Boots mini organic pasta shells
The ragu of dreams – her fave

A WORD ON MEAT

So hubby John is vegan. I am dairy (milk) free, don’t touch meat but occasionally have fish and eggs. Easy hey? While there is some egg in the recipes I make baby, like the BB Bread, she is a meat free kid so far. I really feel strongly that I want the decision to eat meat to be hers, not ours. I want her to know the correlation between the piggy in her cute little farm books and a pack of ham in Tescos. And then if she decides to eat it, then at least she is as informed as a little kid can be I guess. It might prove tricky at children’s parties etc but we’ll cross that bridge. And when she turns one I will clue myself up on the nutrition she needs that can only supposedly be found in meat, like B12. 

A WORD ON MESS

So feeding time is rather primal. It goes everywhere. If she’s getting tired towards the end of her ‘meal’ then she’ll take her grubby little hands and drag them all over her face, her ears and the top of her head.

If it’s a baby led session that involves broccoli then oh sweet lord above. It’s like when you get rid of your Christmas tree in January and still find its little needles in June. 

If it’s puree time then she will largely get angry at me spoon feeding her and want to do it herself. And she can’t all that well because she’s 9 months old. Up the nose, on the floor, on the dog.

Most days I have avocado stuck in my nails, in the bits between nail and finger that you just cannot pick out. Stuck. Forever.

The skin on my hands is forever dry from all the washing and wiping and cleaning. It gets so dry it splits and bleeds.

But all that being said, it’s a joy. Really it is. Especially when she discovers that she likes something. 10 points to mummy! On a bad day where she hates stuff which could be for all manner of reasons like teething, you may feel like a failure. But this is a standard mummy situation right?

On the endless use of wipes and kitchen roll, I have recently started using washable bamboo wipes on her chops and hands. Much nicer for a) the environment and b) her skin.

The aftermath

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So I guess the next part of this adventure/game will be when she drops some formula in favour of just milk as i’m not sure about giving her cows milk. Hhhmm, what to do there as it has to be calorific right? And also introducing snacks too. And making sure she’s getting all the nutrition she needs. Not much to plan then.

I heavily encourage the phone a friend option.

Vx

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