With the Griwi twins, Otus & Leo, embarking on their weaning journey this week, it got me thinking back to when Zachy first started his adventure with solid food.
I always knew I would follow the baby-led weaning approach. Not because I had done masses of extensive research on purees vs baby-led, but because my dear friend, Lindsay-Lindsay-Lou, midwife and über mum to Poppie & Jackson, had weaned her two children this way. And they were magnificent little munchers. I remember watching in complete awe as Pops tucked into spag bol with grated parmesan cheese on top at 7/8 months old.
Baby Led Weaning is really just about letting your child feed himself – you just offer food in a suitably sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. No purees, no ice-cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veg combos…
There was also the distinct advantage that by following the baby-led method, I wouldn’t have to finally work out how to use the blender (I am sure that the instructions that came with this piece of equipment were labelled incorrectly in the factory and really intended for a package to NASA)
So, I bought the Baby Led book by Gill Rapley and read as much of it as time allowed me to with a new baby.
“Just chuck a bit of banana at him” Lins suggested when I asked her how I should get started.
So I did, and he really liked it, but not as much as he liked it mashed up on toast or broccoli, houmous, cheese on toast, strawberries, sweet potato, chicken and pasta. I was ridiculously proud of him and even more so when other people would look at him in amazement as he chowed down on cottage pie with cheesy sweet potato mash.
I wasn’t too rigid about only letting him feed himself though. There were some foods I gave him a hand with – his weetabix or porridge in the morning and yoghurt after lunch were all spoon fed to him until he learnt how to use a spoon for himself.
I know there is a concern from some parents about the risk of choking but we didn’t experience any of these problems with Zachy. He gagged occasionally if he broke off a bit of food off that was a bit too big for him to swallow, but he quickly worked out how to push it to the front of his mouth and spit it out… and if he didn’t, I was right there next to him with one hand hovering over his back and two fingers poised to go in there and retrieve the food from his mouth myself.
Not everyone supported or understood this method of weaning Zachy though and I faced a lot of criticism in the beginning. Not any more though. People congratulate me now on how well my son eats and are genuinely impressed at the many different variety of foods he is willing to try.
There are some downsides though – the mess being one of them. A lot of food will end up on the floor. And, by a lot, I mean most of it. You will need to be very forgiving of this at first, just until they work out that these tasty little toys are not just to play with, but actually fill up their tummy too. Another, is waste. It is heartbreaking to slow cook a lamb tagine for 3 hours only to see it end up on the floor. I would perhaps save these more inspired dishes for when they are a bit more skilled at eating them. Unless you’re making it for yourself as well of course. There’s nothing Zachy enjoys more than sitting round a table with the whole family at dinner time and eating off my plate as well as his!
Otus & Leo have got off to a fine start this week as you can see from these pics of them getting stuck into some yummy broccoli.
It’s just the start of the journey with food for these two boys and I hope it proves to be as positive and happy a one as ours was with Zachy.
How about you? What are your experiences with baby weaning – good or bad? I’d love to hear your thoughts on baby-led vs puree vs combination of both.