To Wean or Not To Wean?

When I’d first started posting on this blog (around mid July) I was still struggling to find enough time to sit down, empty my mind of my list of things-to-do and be able to concentrate on just one post at a time. By the time I’d get to the end of the first sentence, I’d be summoned by the baby dinosaur living in my house. (Baby J of course, she just howls/roars like a dinosaur so that’s what how we refer to her) Approaching the second month of blogging and I’m finding a lot of spare time to indulge in my own thoughts, even when baby J’s awake. I’m the clingy one in our relationship. I find I need to be around her for my sake not hers. So I’m the one to blame really, she’s always coaxing me to go have my ME time but I’m reluctant. I am awkwardly stepping out of my bubble to explore the world outside of diapers and pureès.

More on that later though (maybe if I have time…) right now I actually do want to talk pureès and baby food! I’m a foodie, my whole day revolves around planning my meals, my husbands meals, post workout meals, healthy snacking, indulgent baking you name it! Now I’ve got baby food to explore and it’s amazing. Right up until your baby seals their mouth shut to the food you so lovingly prepared in what took half a day. It’s heartbreaking. Why wouldn’t you want it? It’s so delicious and buttery and still nice and warm, fresh off the stove, just have a tiny bite. Nope. I hope that writing about the way I’ve approached weaning might be of some help to new mothers! It’s not always as easy as THEY tell you…

Preparation

It is crazy enough in the kitchen, if I’m not prepared, baby J could be starving while her foods still cooking! I need to be super alert and on my toes. I try to do my groceries for the entire week but of course there’s always something you need mid-week which means your back at Tescos again. Fruits and vegetables are easier to shop for, most of the spices I use for my foods are ones I’ve introduced to Jana so I don’t have two different shops for the family. I freeze the chicken I buy from the butchers in separate small freezer bags so they’re easier to defrost when I want to cook them. The portions I make last three days which is how long I’d feed her the same meal for ( just for sake of variety as well as keeping it fresh!).

Herbs

I’ve got a section dedicated to Jana’s food in the kitchen. This is where I keep all the finger foods and snacks for example she likes carrot sticks which is a corn and potato snack topped with organic carrots and coriander. It’s quite tasty! She also has tomato crisps (they dissolve in the mouth, what, with all that saliva) banana/chocolate biscotti, and farleys rusk. Farleys rusk are quite useful when I haven’t prepared breakfast or looking for a quick snack, I can mash them up with milk (Cow & Gate follow on milk) or just hand it to her as finger food or even mash it in with a bit of yoghurt or fruit. Quick and simple. These are some of her favorites that I’ve stocked up on but apart from that I try out different things. Eighty percent of the time I make fresh meals at home purely  because pouches you buy in the markets are quite bland which could lead your baby to become a fussy eater. It could make it difficult to introduce herbs and spices you use at home. I’m saying this because I experienced it with baby J. I started off using a lot of pouches and noticed she was whiny when I started making fresh foods at home. It didn’t take her long to get used to them though, Phew! Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with using pouches as they are quite easy for busy mums and do have good nutritional value. I believe the Ella’s kitchen range is probably the freshest tasting (Jana prefers this anyway.)

Cooking

So how do you introduce new textures, tastes, smells? I started weaning baby J at four months which meant I was limited to just fruit and vegetables until she turned six months. This worked out better for me as this gave her plenty of time to get used to different types of veggies (although she wasn’t much of a fussy eater to begin with) I started by giving her cooked apples, pears, bananas, carrots, potatoes, broccoli introducing them one at time for up to three days. Once she started developing these tastes I’d puree a couple of vegetables together and tried introducing stronger tastes such as swede and parsnip. (she never really took onto those!) I started adding carbohydrates to the mix by boiling some rice with the vegetables too.

From six months I started her on chicken, yoghurt, cheese, semolina and more introductions of vegetables mostly in pureed form. Her finger foods, however, are in solid form, for example, toast with butter, baby biscuits, carrot sticks. These help her learn hand eye co-ordination as well as learning to chew her foods. At seven months she can now chew up pieces of chapatis that I make at home, serving it on her tray in front of her, encouraging her to pick it up and feed herself. At the age of six months, don’t be afraid to try new textures that are less pureed. Your baby would have developed a pretty good gag reflex and will generally gag when you first introduce this anyway! So don’t panic, just make sure you are always sitting with them as they attempt to feed themselves. Try and make meal times fun by talking about the different colours of the food, allowing your baby to touch the foods, even letting them feed themselves with their spoon (with your guidance of course). This will keep them interested in exploring more with you.

Baby Food

My approach to meal times is to try not to distract the baby just so they would open their mouths! I will generally sit in front of Jana, do the last bits of preparation in front of her (this gets her attention usually) and start feeding her. If your baby is hungry she will eat! It can take a few attempts to make them realise they are, in fact, hungry, or you might need to prod the spoon in their mouth slowly so they can taste what you’ve got for them. They will get there in the end.

Jana loves pears. When she refused to eat her weetabix in the mornings I started by giving her a spoonful of pureed pear. Then I’d add a fifth of weetabix and four fifths pear and gradually increase the amount of weetabix. This has helped her get used to this new taste and now eats it with no problems. One of her favourite snacks is pears and cinnamon or vanilla. I let her smell this (by taking a sniff first myself!) and she seems very pleased with it! Find out what your baby likes and if you have problems introducing new foods try this method.

Don’t force this on your baby if they aren’t ready. Allow them to take their time and it will eventually fall into place. It’s like any baby related issue – you need patience! Train your baby to eat with methods that you can use long-term, as with anything, they will get used to it. Don’t find a quick fix because there are none! Enjoy your little peanut to the fullest because they are, in fact, so much fun!

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