Rachel the mumma behind the beautifully designed Mumma Hub gives us her insight into baby led weaning.
Three approaches to weaning
Weaning is one of those things that I started to think about way before the six- month mark. It’s a big deal; you want to get it right, you want a healthy baby with a healthy appetite.
I have three children and have taken a different approach with each of them.
My first, Isla, was very much purées all the way, introducing finger foods at around nine months. As a first time mum, I wasn’t fully confident with what I was doing, despite having read all sorts of books. I was very anxious about how much my daughter should be eating. I remember asking friends how much their babies were putting away, and instantly being concerned that my baby wasn’t eating enough.
On reflection, I think my anxieties rubbed off on her, and meal times became less fun and exploratory, and more stressful for both of us. She’s seven now, and the teatime fight continues. Unless it’s beige, it won’t go further than the tip of her tongue! If I dare to serve some slightly different beige food, it’s met with extreme suspicion.
Baby Led Weaning
My second, Evelyn, was pretty much baby-led, with the odd instance of spoon-fed yogurt in amongst the self-fed mess. I wanted to right the worries I had first time around. The concepts of baby-led weaning resonated with me, so I thought we would give it a go. I was a lot more confident this time, and wasn’t so bothered about how much ended up in her ears or on the floor; after all, a two year-old finds it utterly hilarious when her baby sister wipes spaghetti in her hair! Turns out, Evelyn loved feeding herself, and got right amongst the roast dinner.
“The freedom to feed herself, created a really good attitude towards food.”
One of the biggest wins for me was only cooking one meal for all of us. Already having family mealtimes helped hugely, as her weaning journey just slotted into when and what we were eating already. I think giving Evelyn the freedom to feed herself, created a really good attitude towards food.
At five, she will ask to try new things and explore new combinations of food (albeit sometimes with questionable protocol – who am I to say leftover shepherd’s pie for breakfast, or chips dipped in yogurt is not ok?) When I hear that squirrel-rummaging sound from the kitchen, I can almost guarantee it will be followed by a small child wandering around with a whole pepper, carrot or some raw mushrooms. A piece of advice I was given that really stuck with me was, “babies continue to get most of their nutrients from milk until they’re one, so in the beginning it doesn’t matter how much goes in their mouths”.
This time, with Reggie, I have unconsciously combined my previous weaning experiences. Quite frankly, I don’t have the time (or the guts) to go for baby-led Weetabix before the school run, so his breakfast is generally spoon-fed, unless I’m being mega-organised and have prepared something ‘finger food-able’.
I am very careful to watch for when he has lost interest, so as not to pressure him. Most of what we eat for lunch and tea, he will be given on his tray to feed himself, other than things like peas or soup, which he hasn’t yet got the co-ordination for. The fact that he is happy to be spoon-fed, makes eating out slightly easier, too.
Exploring Food with Baby Led Weaning
My advice for any parent thinking about giving baby-led weaning a go is – go for it! Remember, initially it’s all about exploring, and not about consumption. You don’t have to be exclusive about the method you choose to wean your child. Go with the flow; if something doesn’t work for your baby, don’t beat yourself up – adapt, and move on. Try to relax; yes, giving your baby ‘proper’ food at six months can be daunting, but I really believe anxiety rubs off on our children. Ultimately, have some fun, and if your baby has tried a new taste or texture (whether they’ve eaten it or not), you’ve won!
Rachel is the founder of Mummahub.co.uk, a parenting and lifestyle website and mum to 3; Isla 7, Evelyn 5 and Reggie 9 months.
Annabel’s new Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book gives you the tools and inspiration to incorporate baby-led weaning into your baby’s routine. This book can be used on its own for exclusive baby-led weaning. Or it can be used as a companion cookbook to Annabel’s original feeding guide, the New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner, which is filled with her popular puree recipes.
As well as being packed with useful advice and top tips, the book is filled with 120 recipes which the whole family can enjoy together – from breakfast and snacks, to vegetables, poultry, fish, meat and more.