When my daughter turned six months old we started weaning her onto solid foods – it’s a very daunting process if you have never done it before so I’m going to share a bit about my experience and a few tips.
There’s a huge amount of information out there about the two options – feeding purees, or baby-led weaning, which means giving your baby pieces of soft food and allowing to feed themselves. You can also do a combination of both.
We decided to do both but start with purees, for various reasons. I went to a session run by the local children’s services on weaning and they recommended purees, and said they don’t recommend baby-led weaning as it takes a lot longer before the babies are actually eating anything much. I think there were a few other reasons as well which I can’t remember). Obviously there are pros and cons to each approach and some people swear by baby-led weaning (BLW), but we decided we would rather do purees to begin.
At the session I attended we were advised to skip smooth purees and go straight to purees with soft lumps or at least a bit more texture – but I got a bit trigger happy with my blender and made smooth purees. So after the first couple of weeks I started adding in other textures – I’ll write more about this later.
Annabel Karmel is one of the leading figures in baby weaning and has written dozens of books and also lent her name to a range of feeding equipment. I bought a couple of her books second hand and used those for a lot of the background information on where to start, and some of the recipes. I’m not going to repeat all of that information here, but will share some of the things I found most useful.
My favourite products
Here are some of the things I found most useful when I started weaning
- Ikea Antilop high chair with tray, £14 (yes, only £14, and it’s really good) plus Ikea’s matching Klammig cushion and cover (£6).
- Top tip: If you have a removable cover for the padded insert in your high chair, buy two. I wish I had because that way one could be in the wash while the other was in use.
- A long sleeved-bib such as the Kladdig from Ikea (£5) – the mini moo has a habit of wiping her arms across her face and getting food all over her sleeves
- Annabel Karmel food cube tray – you can use an ordinary ice cube tray to freeze portions of purees but I liked this as it has a lid to stop spills before the puree is frozen and is made of soft silicon so it’s easy to pop the cubes out.
- Tommee Tippee First Cup – the mini moo found these easy to drink out of, though I haven’t been able to get her to hold the cup while she drinks yet. They have leak proof lids, but are free flow which is better for their teeth than ones with a valve. These come in a pack of two which is good if you haven’t gotten around to washing one up and need to use another!
- Sistema microwave small steamer – perfect for quickly steaming small amounts of vegetables.
- Munchkin stay put suction bowl – a pack of three bowls in different sizes which stick to the tray of the high chair or table with suction so your little one can’t knock them on the floor. Remember you need plastic spoons not metal ones as well.
- I already had a blender so didn’t feel the need to buy a special baby food one; a potato masher is also fine to use.
- A mat to go under the high chair – you can use anything for this, even cut open a bin liner. You can buy fairly expensive mats but my mum got me a couple of wipe-clean ones from the pound shop.
- A flannel – to wipe baby’s face rather than use wet wipes as you would get through loads otherwise.
- Annabel Karmel books – Weaning and Top 100 Baby Purees
Sophie’s favourite meals
The advice I read was to start with simple vegetable purees and introduce other tastes and combinations gradually.
- Carrot puree – this was Sophie’s first ever meal
- Sweet potato and butternut squash – I bought a bag of ready prepared (peeled and chopped) sweet potato and butternut squash, which I roasted then pureed
- Sweet potato and broccoli
- Banana – good on its own or mixed with baby porridge
- Avocado – more expensive but one avocado made three small portions
- Strawberry – I bought a lot of strawberries for a dessert for a party we ended up not going to so I pureed them instead. They are good mixed with baby porridge though Sophie didn’t really like the strawberry on its own
- Cow and Gate baby food – I bought a few jars in readiness before we started weaning though was surprised at just how smooth the puree is; I preferred the more grainy texture of my homemade purees. I decided to use them anyway and was quite disappointed that the mini moo really didn’t seem to like the first flavour I gave her – cauliflower cheese. The next one, ‘my first bolognese’, was a lot more successful, and she also really liked the pumpkin and chicken flavour.
Sophie has taken to solid (well, pureed) foods really well, and apart from the pure strawberry (when it wasn’t mixed with baby porridge) and the cauliflower cheese jar, she has enjoyed her food, leaning forwards and opening her mouth for more. She still eats fairly small portion sizes – some days more than others so I’m still throwing a fair bit away, but making your own puree especially when it’s just vegetables is fairly inexpensive.
The next stage is to introduce lumpier textures, more combinations of flavours and figure how to start baby-led weaning as well. I’m not convinced that if Sophie had pieces of food in front of her that she would know what to do with them – so if you have any advice or experience to share, please do so in the comments!