Baby Henry has always had an insatiable appetite and we were beginning to think that milk might not be enough for him any more (he still feeds every 2 hours, day and night!), so we have decided to wean earlier than the 6 month UK guidelines. I have to say, I find these guidelines a little misguided as they are based on World Health Organisation recommendations, which are misplaced in a developed country like Britain where people know the importance of sterilisation. So, if your baby is older than 17 weeks then remember, Mother knows best!
The NHS recommends your baby is ready for solids if;
- They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
- They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
- They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.
Because he is not quite 5 months and his motor skills are not ready for baby led weaning, we are going to start off with purees, and slowly move on to sticks of cooked broccoli, pasta, cheese etc when he is older and more able to pick up and chew on them himself.
Henry waiting patiently for his swede purée.
And so it begins! With my veggies and fruits at the ready the week before we’re set to start Henry off, I block out a Saturday afternoon and get started on prepping his new tastes for the first couple of weeks. My first try wasn’t as successful as I might have hoped, to say the least! I went in first with sweet potato. Having trained as a chef many many years ago, I’ve always been one for just putting things together and more often than not they don’t turn out so badly. Not really suitable when things for the first stages of weaning need to be pretty controlled. My first round of sweet potato was drizzled with olive oil, before roasting…Not something a little baby should really be eating, so that was turned into a delicious chilli spiced sweet potato & red lentil soup for myself. Round 2 was set off in the oven successfully while I ate my own supper and later on discovered still in the oven by Mr J, resembling more of a sweet potato vegetable crisp than a soft blend-able version…Round 3…this time I got as far as the blending, and with my trusty hand blender at the ready I began whizzing it up, a few seconds in a peculiar burning smell wafted up to my nose, followed by the sad noise of the blender dying a very slow, very noisy death and the contents of the motor being burnt out and deposited into the mixture of sweet potato!! This was a disaster.
Luckily for me, I was recounting this fiasco to a friend who just so happened to have the most perfect tool for the job, which I love so much it’s made the whole process soooooo much easier and I would recommend to anyone who is looking at pureeing. Simply wash, peel and chop up your fruit or veg and put into the Phillips Avent steamer and blender and load up your ice cube trays to freeze, label and you’re done!
As we are so new to weaning we are only preparing “tastes” so basic flavours and not full on meals, so I can defrost a couple of cubes at a time for mid morning, although as he feeds every 2 hours finding the time when he’s not too full, too hungry or too tired is harder than one might imagine! Today’s “brunch” was at 4:45pm!
It’s really important to say that at this early stage all nutrients should still be coming from breast or formula milk and these first stages of weaning are more to get your baby used to tastes and textures and the new action required to eat solid food which is completely different to how he or she has ever fed before. If your baby isn’t keen on a particular food, or maybe none at all, then leave it a couple of days and then revisit. They may not be ready just yet. Try giving your baby a spoon to hold in the other hand so that they feel they have some control over what you are doing with them.
With parsnip being a relative disaster compared to the absolute hit that sweet potato was on the first round of veg, tomorrow’s new taste adventure is going to be carrot, wish us luck!