Mellow Mummy: Our Weaning Story - 12 Months On : Taking life as it comes...

Monday 29 November 2010

Our Weaning Story - 12 Months On

This time 12 months ago, Lara started her amazing adventure into the world of solid foods. We started weaning Lara at about 18 weeks old, at the point when she would quite gladly have bitten off my hand for the chance to try something other than milk. I thought it would be fun to look back on all of the blog posts that I have written over the past year about our weaning adventure.

Weaning is a very personal thing and if there is one thing I believe, it is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. I know people who have struggled (and still struggle several years on), I know others who opted for ready made purees right up until 1 year old but now have perfectly healthy children who eat a varied diet, and I know some parents who took a strict baby-led-weaning approach with no solids at all until around 8 or 9 months. I also know that the way we weaned Lara has worked incredibly well for us, and one year on, I have a little girl of whom I am proud. She has an appetite for sweet and savoury foods of all types and is never afraid to try something new – sometimes, when sitting in a restaurant with my 17 month old girl devouring a plate full of real, grown-up food, I get an enormous sense of achievement. Weaning can be great fun.

12 months ago, Mr. B. and myself approached weaning onto solid foods with trepidation. All of the government advice tells you over and over again that you shouldn’t introduce solids until 6 months and yet our parents were both egging us on, saying that 4 months was the time to start. Lara was clearly ready for food and already had teeth coming through so we gave it a try. We started with baby porridges ( more than just a refined, bland baby rice) and fruit purees made by yours truly. We found the Annabel Karmel website a great place for finding recipes. We bought some little freezer pots so that I could make batches of baby food and put them in the freezer so that we could rotate meals and ensure that Lara had a good variety of flavours and textures. I used some printed quidelines that I got in my NCT lessons for how much of what type of food I should be offering Lara each day but quickly learned that the pots I had bought were too small and that my quidelines were totally useless! Lara went from the 1-or-2-teaspoons to the enormous-bowlful stage within a fortnight! So, here’s a top tip: don’t bother with tiny freezer pots, just buy bigger ones straight away.

As we approached Christmas last year, Lara was eating three homemade meals a day. Porridge in the morning, fruit mixes for lunch and a savoury meal in the evenings. At this point, I introduced Lara to a beaker of water with her meals. It took her quite a while to get used to the sucking motion but she soon got the hang of it. We also had a play with a few different types of bibs.

When Lara started going to the childminders in the new year, this introduced me to a whole new world of lunchbox food! I was very good and continued making Lara home-made baby food that the childminders would warm up for her. Into the new year, Lara started showing an interest in finger foods. By 8 months old, Lara was eating most of her foods by hand and in general, would refuse anything that I offered her on a spoon – opting to try it herself instead. At this point, we began to take the Baby-Led-Weaning approach more and more. By this I mean that we offered Lara a little bit of everything that we ate ourselves. This approach helps us a lot because it means we don’t have to cook a separate meal for Lara – we all share our family meals. Lara is one of few babies I know who was weaned in quite such an adventurous manner. We have an adventurous repertoire of meals (largely involving curry, I might add) and Lara seems to enjoy them all. We’ve had our wobbles – Lara went through a period of turning her nose up at beef, and then at anything involving tomato. At present, she will start screaming if she just hears the word yoghurt.

Just because we took the BLW approach, doesn’t mean that I DIDN’T offer Lara pre-packaged baby foods. No. As someone who loves to cook, I also enjoy a good takeaway, or a lovely meal out – I use convenience foods for myself, and I also use them for Lara. We did try one or two products from free samples that I wasn’t wowed by. Jars were never my thing, much sloppier and blander than anything I made myself. We did try Organix baby foods which were fine for back-up foods but our favourite were Plum Baby which just seemed most similar to my home-made foods in texture and ingredients. As Lara became more proficient in finger foods, we also discovered a great range of toddler snacks on the market that she still enjoys.

At around 10 months old, I started to offer Lara cutlery for her to learn to use. At 17 months she still hasn’t quite mastered the art but is very proficient with a spoon, and a fork when she chooses to be. One of our best investments has been our Boots crockery sets. We have several of them now! Simple BPA-free bowls and plates which are sturdy and well-shaped to allow Lara to move the food around with her spoon and fork without getting it everywhere. You don’t need anything more fancy than this. We also love our Brother Max bowl as I can fill it full of food, snap the lid on and put it into Lara’s lunchbox.

At 1 year we introduced cow's milk. These days Lara eats the same meals as us. Despite my recent porridge rant, I'm not someone who monitors every single little thing that my child eats. I know that she gets a generally healthy diet made from fresh foods so I'm very relaxed when it comes to offering snacks or treats. I do have one or two rules that I try to stick to when making my own food - no added salt or sugar. I tend to add seasoning to a meal immediately before I serve it these days so that I can make sure Lara has her portion first - this also allows me to add more chilli powder to mummy and daddy's food at the last minute too.

Over the past few weeks and months we have had lots of opportunity to try our different toddler drinking cups and highchairs. Our weaning journey is nearly over. In the coming weeks we hope to move Lara out of the highchair and into a booster seat at our brand new dining room table. Within a couple of months I expect her to have mastered the art of cutlery and then after that… well, who knows? Maybe my job will be done? Or maybe Lara is saving her fussy-eater stage for when she is a bit older!

I’m certain that her adventurous and unlimited diet has contributed to Lara’s social skills. I know that I can take her to friends, family and restaurants and not have to worry about finding something for her to eat. Holidays and travel are so much easier now that I don’t have to take anything special for her to eat and drink. Lara enjoys mealtimes – they are a big part of our day that we love to share with her.

If you would like to learn a little more about weaning, take a look at all of the information available at Boots Parenting Club
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