Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Our weaning journey so far...


Before entering the world of parenthood I'd never really thought about how to introduce solid foods to a baby... I knew it all began at six months and that it would be a messy affair but really, I didn't have a clue. In the last few months its totally taken over my life!

Gone are the days of simply popping the baby on my boob and being able to dress her in pretty outfits expecting them to be relatively clean by 5pm. We've officially become 'those' people who make an utter mess when we go to a restaurant and whilst at it we go through ridiculous amounts of baby wipes and yogurt.

I thought as its been a huge part of my life over the past few months it's only right that I document what we've been up to on my blog; hopefully it'll inspire other parents out there to experiment with food and really enjoy mealtimes with kiddies!

The start

The NHS recommended time to begin weaning is 6 months but I felt Aria was ready just a little bit early and we gave it a go at 5 months and 3 weeks. I knew from the outset that I wanted to try my best to avoid using pouches of baby food; yeah pouches are quick to prepare and easy for when out and about but my personal rule for weaning is if I wouldn't eat it then why should my daughter? 

We started Aria off on a few simple homemade purees; sweet potato, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower and potato and although she seemed to enjoy the flavours the texture just wasn't cutting it for her. Of course they were easy and quick to prepare but honestly, I wouldn't want to eat pureed stuff for each of my meals so why would Aria? I quickly moved away from feeling like we should go with the 'norm' of feeding the baby this type of food and started looking into Baby Led Weaning (BLW).

BLWis essentially offering your baby the same food you eat; eating together as a family,letting them explore textures and choose foods they like rather than spoon feeding them. In reality, its actually the most normal way for a baby to eat but over many years we've been conditioned to think that babies are meant to be fed purees from jars and pouches.

Just to note, my post isn't meant to cause offence to anyone and if you choose to use pouches then fair enough thats your decision as a family. I just knew from pretty early on that Aria that she was a pro at this feeding malarky and we wanted to try out BLW to see how she got on.. as a family we love cooking and trying out new foods so to limit Aria to a small selection of packaged products just didn't feel right.

So, once we realised that purees weren't the route we wanted to take I started to read up on BLW and once she reached six months instead of pureeing vegetables up we just started to steam them and offer them to her whole. Of course to begin with she was slightly dubious about it all but within a few days she was chomping down on sweet potato wedges, carrot sticks, cucumber, grated cheese, spinach, mini pasta dishes and shredded chicken breast.

But, after a couple of weeks I realised I still wasn't following 'proper' BLW guidelines as I was still cooking separate meals for her, making dinner times very busy and sometimes quite stressful as all she wanted to do was take bits off my dinner plate to try.

I knew something had to change so I headed to Waterstones and picked up two books- River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook and Gill Rapley's The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook.  On reflection, these two books have totally changed our weaning journey; reading through the books filled me with ideas, confidence and the knowledge to just go for it.

 I also joined a few BLW Facebook groups and quickly started to build up a bank of recipe ideas and meal plans which we use each week to plan meals for us all to eat. One piece of knowledge I picked up from the Facebook groups is there are actually only two types of weaning; BLW or traditional weaning with finger foods. Some of the Facebook groups can be quite strict; if you feed your baby anything on a spoon then its not classed as BLW and some groups delete you from having access to the information (not quite the approach I'd take but I can kind of see their point..)

So, armed with the knowledge, recipes, first aid training incase of choking and the motivation to get my daughter into food we started to just offer her our normal evening meals. Taking the pressure off of having to cook separate meals meant was a huge relief; I've gained an hour each day to just sit and play with her rather than preparing two different meals. It's also meant that our family meals have become healthier as you need to be aware of salt levels in food for babies and of course ready meals are out of the question!

Day by day my confidence grew with cooking and watching her eat; of course at first it was a bit nerve wracking when she occasionally gagged on bits of food... but because I'd spent time reading up on the mechanisms of how babies sort through their food and learn to eat with no teeth I knew she was totally capable of doing it all herself.  The worst thing you can do is try and intervene by sticking your finger in their mouth!

So, at 10 months old I can officially say we have a baby who adores mealtimes... she loves snacking throughout the day too and is most happy when she's chomping away on a breadstick. The downsides to BLW like the mess and the food waste are completely outweighed by the fun of offering her different flavours and textures to try out and getting to know what her favourite foods are.

What does Aria eat?

Breakfast

Whilst I'm still on maternity leave we have the opportunity to spend time preparing yummy breakfasts like scotch pancakes, fruit salads, scrambled eggs, avocado on toast, overnight oats and omelettes. I'm sure when I'm back at work breakfast might not be quite as adventurous but we'll just enjoy it for now and see what happens in the future. Most breakfast times include yogurt so its normally the most messiest meal of the day requiring a full strip down and wash afterwards. Thats fine though, after brekkie we get her dressed for the day and down for her nap.


Lunch

Lunchtime meals vary day to day; sometimes we just have simple cheese sarnies or if I've been organised I cook snacks; chickpea fritters, sweet potato fritters, pizza pinwheels and homemade quiches. Its great that she gets such variety and it also means I eat lunch myself, which in the earlier months of being a mother I quite often skipped lunch as I couldn't find the time to cook anything.

Dinner

Every Sunday me and the Mr spend an hour looking through the BLW books and our regular cook books finding dishes we want to try out that week for dinner. We then write out our shopping list and decide which dishes to have on each day; if its a complicated dish I usually plan in for us to have it on a day the Mr either finishes early or has the day off just to make it easy for us all. Just to give you a taste of the types of dishes we have heres this weeks menu-

Monday- Jacket potato with cheese and tuna- simple and quick perfect Monday night meal that requires very little preparation!

Tuesday- Moroccan lamb with minted feta cous cous- a firm favourite in our house at the moment; this dish is one we discovered in a Gousto box last year (recipe here)

Wednesday- Pizza with sweet potato wedges- the Mr and I just have M&S pizza bases but for the babe I make her base out of self raising flour and greek yogurt (recipe here)

Thursday- Coconut and lime chicken stir fry- store bought meal kit from M&S- I checked the salt content on the sauce and its fine for her to have.

Friday- Slow cooker chicken korma- ideal as I can start it off during her morning nap and leave it for 6 hours so its ready for dinner time!

I'm so passionate about food at the moment I could go on and on about our meal times so if you'd like to see more of our meal plans and snack ideas let me know and I'll quite happily start a weekly post on it all.

I honestly never imagined feeding a baby could be so fun and I hope to inspire other parents out there to branch out and try BLW.

Have you got any tasty recipes we could add to our plan?
What's your little ones favourite snack?

XOXO

1 comment :

  1. Aria is doing so well with her eating! I haven't tried plates yet as they usually go flying. Pinwheels are definitely a favourite in this house as well as bolognese, chicken and mushroom risotto, cheese and yogurt. I really want to try and experiment more with curries and other flavours.

    I struggle with snacks as sometimes fruit can be a bit messy when out. I've tried the kiddylicious wafers but not sure how good they are for my little one.

    Debbie x www.hellodeborah.co.uk

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