Three kids in it’s fair to say I have a good bit of experience with the world of weaning. I remember back on my first lady the whole idea of weaning being so daunting, it felt like the first time as a mother I was left to my own devices, the advice of the midwives or public health nurse was long gone and I felt there was so much out there saying ‘oh if you give too much sweet food they’ll be fat’ and I was petrified of giving the wrong food.
Now by NO stretch of the imagination am I a nutritionist, this is purely a blog post on what I did, things that made life easy and to be honest, based on the two older girls, we probably haven’t done a bad job because they will eat practically anything we serve up, bar mushrooms! Also, babyled weaning just isn’t for me, the small lady is now 12 months old and I give her plenty of finger foods but I give them once she has eaten some food from me off a spoon, or she takes the spoon herself. I just personally find with baby led weaning she ends up firing so much on the ground I can’t tell how much she has eaten, I think she picks and chooses what she wants to eat whereas I rather her eat everything and taste everything now, it’s too messy for me (ha, but seriously it is!) and I almost loose my life the minute she starts to gag. Firstly, I would say get advice from your nurse or doctor as to when you should start your baby on solids. My ladies were all big babies but given a history of autoimmune illness in our family I held off until they were all very nearly 6 months old before I started them on solids. And they were fine with that.
I never really held fast to the advice that you should stick to one food for three days before introducing another. With the second two ladies the first foods I gave them were purees of broccoli, sweet potato, carrots quite quickly introducing combinations of vegetables like carrots and broccoli, green beans and sweet potato etc. I personally have held off on giving fruit for the first couple of weeks just because in my experience it’s easier to start with the savory then sweet is a treat than start with sweet and then try convincing them to eat things like broccoli. Look if probably makes absolutely no difference but that’s just what I did!
I stop using stock in the family cooking from when the baby is about 8 months to a year, that way Lucy can eat exactly what we eat, from curry, stews, pasta bakes, you name it she eats it. I also make extra then so that there is some in the freezer or in the fridge for her lunch the next day.
Couscous is the handiest base for a meal if you are in a hurry, it’s great to add to a left over curry or stew and it takes about 2 minutes to make.
There are only two items I rely on in the early stages, my bog standard steamer and my nutribullet. The steamer is brilliant for batch cooking and its the healthiest way to cook food for a baby. The nutribullet is brilliant for blasting food into a puree in seconds. I still use it when she gets to the more textured stage for meals with pasta as a base, I throw in a dash of water on top of the leftover pasta bake or meal and literally give it a second in the nutribullet and it’s broken down nicely into a more manageable meal without me having to hack away at it with a fork.
I usually give dinner at lunchtime and then the evening is either another much smaller hot meal or its a combination of yogurt and fruit, maybe some liga, a small sandwich, toast, eggs, banana bread.
For breakfast its usually porridge (made with half water half milk) with fruit (no honey until they’re one!) or wheatabix, we are boring and it’s always one or the other mixing it up by adding different fruits. I usually give toast or put dry cereal like cherrios or rice krispies out then if Lucy has finished before the other girls get down and I’m eating my breakfast just so I can get some peace, good for her pincer fingers and it keeps her busy!
I am not opposed to using packets of food but I am opposed to packets that masquerade as dinner pouches but have fruit snuck in to make that pouch more palatable. The only packets of food that I have given Lucy are the ones from Babease after my brother in law recommended them to me and the ones from Waterford based Pip and Pear. The Babease packets are full of really strong vegetables like broccoli or kale and unusual (well to me anyway!) ingredients like quinoa, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas. The ingredients and the proportion at which they are included in the packet is clearly marked on the back really clearly. I have no time to feel guilty about giving a packet to a child if I’m out and these are just brilliant. The range from Pip and Pear is also a big hit here, Irish made and full of fresh ingredients and no hidden surprises!
Other than that the only recipe book and guide I have ever referred to is the free to download guide from the First 1000 Days website. It is an excellent source of information with a guide on the number of meals per day, portion size, samples of foods to be given etc really nicely broken down into a simple to follow chart. I still refer to this to make sure I’m on the right track with her ladyship. Actually that whole website is really informative and everything from sleeping to food related topics are written by people well qualified in their area of expertise!