Wolfy has been a little slow on the uptake with weaning. He is hopelessly addicted to his milk and hasn’t quite seen the need for anything else. Looking at him, you certainly wouldn’t say he was going without!
But at his eight month check a couple of weeks ago our health visitor gently advised that he really should be eating more in the way of solids. Knowing that we were going away for half term week, she said maybe the change of scene might help to make a difference. Having his sister off school and with him at mealtimes could also help to encourage him to eat more.
I didn’t have particularly high expectations, and pretty much put her advice to the back of my mind. But her words turned out to be gems of wisdom, and not just in relation to weaning.
On the first day of staying at Nanna’s, Wolfy cut his very first tooth! On day two, he cut his second tooth. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, on day four he rolled over for the first time, and on day five he clapped properly for the first time. We’d gone out for lunch, and suddenly in his highchair he began to clap. He was beaming from ear to ear, and I knew how much it meant to him as he’s been secretly trying to master it for weeks. It was a proud moment for both of us.
The weaning seems to have come along in leaps and bounds too. He still has a way to go in terms of the portion sizes he’s consuming, but he’s giving everything a go and some meals he’s devoured.
Having a relaxed attitude has been the saving grace for me this time round. With Little I I fretted over everything, and for peace of mind I always wanted her to be ahead of her development milestones (which she frequently was…but I think that’s girls for you!). With Wolfy though, he’s such a laid-back soul that I’m happy to let him take his time with everything, knowing that he’ll get there in the end. I want to treasure this baby stage for as long as it will last.
Weaning, like potty training, can be such a stressful stage…but I’ve come to realise that stress benefits no one. If like Wolfy, you have a reluctant eater, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way…
* Wait until six months, if you can. By this stage their digestive systems are mature enough to handle most things, and it’s easier to begin offering them just what you’re having. If they reach to grab something off your plate, you can go with it and let them give it a go, without worrying about whether they’re old enough.
* Invest in some good family cookbooks. Use this as an opportunity to cook healthily for the whole family, so that it’s an enjoyable process. If baby chooses not to eat what you’ve cooked, at least the rest of the family has hopefully had a nice meal. I also feel there’s a lot to be said for your baby seeing you eat the same as them. I’ve recently purchased the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook which is full of good ideas.
* Stock up on good quality freezer pots. I’ve found that Philips AVENT does a really nice range. Then when you find a meal which baby likes, you can make a few portions and freeze for easy mealtimes.
* Find an approach which works for you, and don’t feel under pressure to do the same as your friends. When weaning Little I, I was a fierce advocate of Baby Led Weaning. I loved the thinking behind it, and it also worked out really well for her. However with Wolfy it hasn’t been quite so big a hit, and so I’ve needed to adapt and find an approach that suits him better.
* Get some cool baby weaning plates and bowls. I remember this made a big difference with Little I, as it helped to make mealtimes fun. I particularly like ones with divided sections, as it makes it easier to prepare a variety of tastes and finger foods for your baby. Boon has a lovely new feeding range out, in bright attractive colours. I love their edgeless platters (genius design, as the baby can’t pick them up!), and their catch bowl which has a suction cup bottom and does a good job of catching some fallout!
* Try to eat together as a family, as much as you can. I’m lucky in that I work from home, and so does my husband, so we are always able to eat at the dining table together.
* Don’t feel guilty about reaching for the pre-prepared baby food. There are some lovely, healthy, organic options out there, and if you stock up during a supermarket baby event they can be relatively affordable. I don’t know many babies who don’t like the Ella’s Kitchen fruit pouches!
* If you are beginning to despair, remember the saying “food is fun before one”! I’ve been really keeping this to heart, along with the rationale that you think about what a baby has eaten over a week, and not over a day.
If you have any more words of weaning wisdom to impart, please share them below. I would really love to hear.