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Weaning is a massive milestone for every child, but I think it’s a huge parent milestone too. It’s one that I was nervous and excited about in equal measure.
From the start, I was adamant I wanted to avoid using pouches if I could and that I wanted to make as much of Stanley’s food from scratch as I could. I am proud to say that 6 months into our weaning journey, I still haven’t used any pouches and have made all his meals myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against pouches, and as with every aspect of parenting, people’s opinions will differ and everyone should always do what they feel is best for them and their child.
I started weaning Stanley at 4 and a half months old. This is another thing that will no doubt split opinion and I know many people think you should not wean prior to 6 months of age. However, Stanley was always a hungry baby and I felt that he was ready to move onto food. He took to it like a duck to water and has continued to maintain his healthy appetite so I have no regrets and looking back I know that I made the right decision. If anything, I think he was ready before that but I was putting it off as I was nervous about where to start.
Once I did begin, Stanley had baby rice for around a week. He loved it and it made me realise immediately that I’d made the right decision in starting to give him proper food. From then, I followed the Ella’s Kitchen ‘Veg for Victory’ campaign, which suggests giving just vegetables for the first 2 weeks of weaning to help little ones appreciate the taste of vegetables and begin their weaning journey with healthy habits.
It went really well, and Stanley was loving his tastes of vegetables. He was eating more than most of the weaning guidelines said a baby his age would want – like I said he was always a hungry baby!
After 2 weeks, I moved on slightly and starting combining vegetables together as well as offering him tastes of fruit. It seems like a lifetime ago that I was just offering him single tastes and all as smooth purees that I whizzed up with a hand blender! Now he is almost 11 months old and will literally eat everything! He eats enormous portions and very rarely turns things down. He eats a massive variety of fish, meat, fruit and vegetables and eats really healthily.
I made the decision not to give Stanley chocolate or biscuits etc until after 12 months. Again, each to their own and I know some people will give their children these things before this point but it was another personal decision I made. I am really pleased with Stanley’s eating habits so far and I don’t feel that he is missing out by not having chocolate etc at this point. He has a variety of baby friendly snacks and desserts – I love making him banana custard or pear and cinnamon rice pudding!
I have read so many blogs and articles from people that had once great eaters, and then one day they hit a wall and their child refused to eat! I’m dreading this happening as I have got so used to Stanley eating almost anything I put in front of him, but for now I am enjoying my good little eater. I mean, don’t get me wrong he has his moments and some days he will basically just launch the lot on the floor and refuse to eat, but not very often.
In terms of feeding style, I started with traditional spoon-fed as it felt safer and more logical when he was on smoother food (and I was petrified he’d choke on anything I put near him ha!). Once he could grip things and showed more interest in grabbing at food I introduced some elements of baby led weaning. I think this is part of the reason for Stanley’s success with weaning – he absolutely loves to make a mess and feed himself. I still do a bit of a combination of the two techniques, as sometimes he would rather me spoon feed him his dinner, but I always have some BLW style with some vegetables etc on his high chair for him to grab at and feed himself. So far it has proved a success.
At almost 11 months old, Stanley is a fabulous eater and it seems crazy how far we have come. Weaning is such a difficult journey (even if your baby is a good eater like mine). It is all about trial and error and finding foods and techniques that your baby likes best.
What I would say to parents about to embark on this journey is be excited not scared! It is nerve wracking but try to enjoy it, I’ve noticed that having fun with food puts baby at ease and they seem to enjoy it more too!
When did you wean your baby, or when are you thinking of starting if you have a smaller baby? Or have you hit the wall where they aren’t eating – any tips on how to overcome it?!
Here’s some recent photos of Stanley making a mess as he refused to let me feed him creamy chicken and mash! He was very proud of the mess he made!