Weaning your first baby can be a bit daunting. I remember feeling like I was walking in to a whole unknown area of babyhood when I started weaning William, and it was quite nerve wracking. I read through the Gill Rapley Baby Led Weaning book, and an Annabel Karmel book (both of which were helpful and I would recommend by the way) and picked out bits of each approach that I liked, and skipped the bits I didn’t. I wasn’t that in to spoon feeding, but I didn’t expect the poor mite to shove handfuls of petite filous in to his mouth a la strict Gill Rapley style, so a medley it was.
William took to eating like a duck to water but I suppose that is just luck. What I’ve learnt from the subsequent two babies is that every baby is different, including the size of their appetite and their food preferences. Instead of worrying over weaning E and F, I just followed their lead and cared way less about how much they were getting in, and more about whether or not they were enjoying it. Though as a disclaimer – I think by default weaning second/third/ninth children is always going to be easier as they’re slotting in to a routine that is already there. First children have the routine built around them which makes the whole shebang a bit more complicated I guess.
Anyway, enough rambling and on to some weaning recommendations and tips.
Before you begin to wean your baby, there are a few signs that will show they are ready to go for it. These are:
- They can sit and hold their head up.
- They have good hand to eye coordination.
- They can swallow food instead of pushing it out of their mouth with their tongue.
BUT These signs are only useful for babies that were born at full term, and have no gastric issues. I believe premature babies and babies with reflux etc often follow different advice.
The things I find useful to have before you start weaning are:
- Sippy cups.
- Plastic bowls and spoons.
- The IKEA antilop highchair.
And with a combination of those things, the best advice I can give is just to go for it. Read your babies cues, if they’re too tired, or if they’ve just had a milk feed then they’re probably not going to be too hot on shovelling food in. Also, if they’re starving hungry it might be best to give a milk feed rather than hoping they’ll fill up on food. It’s a new skill and it can be quite frustrating so the more peaceful the meal time the better. Some people introduce one flavour at a time. I didn’t, I just gave them suitable bits of whatever we were having as a family. It worked for us, and every family will have a style that works for them.
But most of all, don’t stress. Your baby will learn to eat. They don’t all get it right away, or even by the time they’re 1. Every single baby is different and comparing your baby to others will probably only stress you out. It really doesn’t matter if some days they eat loads and others nothing at all. The best thing you can do is to relax and enjoy weaning your baby.
Finally, One thing I would absolutely recommend is to learn the difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is perfectly normal and expected when weaning a baby, it’s usually noisy and the baby manages to solve the problem themselves. Choking is silent and requires your help. Some foods are more of a choking hazard than others, like whole grapes and cocktail sausages. I’ll link below to the NHS information on weaning and choking.
Thanks for reading! I hope this post has been useful to anyone about to start weaning their baby.