I recently wrote a blog for JoJo Maman Bebe for National Weaning Week and as it’s such an important topic, I thought I would share some of the info from it on here too.
When Jo Jo’s approached me to write for them, they asked for something a little different. Not your usual or average weaning top tips post. I thought about this hard and realised that people may really benefit from more blogs on the topic of “what to expect” and the realities of weaning a baby in those very first weeks.
So I went to work writing a blog for them on just this topic.
The Early Weaning Days
I get SO many parents contacting me saying that their little ones haven’t taken to weaning in the way they thought they would. Why aren’t they trying anything? They only clamp their mouth shut? Baby’s delicious and perfectly created BLW is food just ends up on the floor?
The truth is learning to eat is a journey. It’s a skill that needs to be learnt – over time – and going from a single food, to all of a sudden being presented with an array of different flavours, smells and textures is quite a big deal.
We need to take the pressure off those first weeks of weaning. Nothings is right or wrong and babies ALL take to the process of weaning so differently. These first weeks are about learning. Not all of a sudden gobbling up a whole bowl of broccoli!
I’ve written before about the first month of weaning, so check that out as well, as it might offer you a few more ideas about the realities and help you to take the pressure off yourself in those first few days.
Veg Led Weaning
Veg led weaning is also different and new and it’s a completely new taste to anything baby has had before. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it. But it also doesn’t mean that we should expect baby to take to weaning and the foods on offer right away. An apple puree is sweet and babies are born to like sweet foods (breastmilk!) so that might be eaten a little more easily, but weaning is about introducing the new and supporting babies to learn to enjoy new and exciting flavours. Veggies are going to be a very new experience, and new experiences take time to get used to.
If you’re trying the veg led approach and baby isn’t keen…try a variety initially and then move on, try something new. I often have parents contact me who think that they can’t move on to food combinations or more complex meals until baby is fully accepting their veggies. That’s not the case. Veg led weaning is about exposing baby to something completely new – even if that means the sight, smell and touch, it’s all familiarisation.
So here were some of my tips for JoJo Maman Bebe, I hope they help you see some of the realities that really are weaning.
Lots of Mess
Weaning is a messy time. In fact, in those first weeks you might find that a large amount of the food on offer doesn’t even make it into your baby’s mouth. Instead, it may be more likely to end up lobbed on the floor, smashed into highchair cushions and covering every other part of your baby’s face! Embrace the mess as much as you can, and know that this is all part of their learning and acceptance journey with solid foods.
Babies pull all sorts of facial expressions when they’re having their first tastes of food. These facials don’t necessarily mean “yuck” (even though they might look like it…!) they may just be your baby’s way of expressing surprise at this new food experience. My best advice – don’t write any foods off after a few tastes and get those cameras well and truly ready to capture those hilarious expressions!
Early on in weaning babies may be seen to reject certain or lots of different foods. Maybe they show this by simply not eating the food, turning their head away from the spoon or spitting certain foods out. This is completely normal too. My son wasn’t a fan of egg at first, but now it’s one of his favourites. So respect your baby’s signals at a mealtime, but remember that research shows us it can take around 10 “exposures” before some foods are accepted.
Disinterest in Food
This is completely normal at the start of weaning. At around 6 months of age, when we usually begin solid foods, your baby might be hitting lots of other milestones such as learning to crawl or teething. This can impact on how willing your little one is to engage in mealtimes and how long they want to be in the highchair for. My advice here would be to ensure that “mealtimes” become part of the routine so that your baby knows when to expect this as part of their day. Additionally, try and make those mealtimes fun and engaging for your baby; sit and eat with them where possible and offer lots of smiles, encouragement and interaction.
Ups and Downs
Just as with us as adults, babies will have ebbs and flows in their natural appetites. Their appetites will likely vary day to day and meal to meal as some days they want more and some days less as they grow and change so much. We can’t ask our babies why they don’t want food, so my advice is to try and allow your baby to follow their own natural appetite and simply go with their flow. You decide what you offer and let them decide how much they eat at meals. Babies are pretty good at following their own appetites and sometimes just taking the pressure off is all they need.
Of course you might not experience any of these and your baby might glide through weaning happily accepting and tasting most of what is on offer. They are all so different. However, remember to sit back, let your baby take the lead and do lots of role modelling by eating similar meals to your baby whenever possible. This can make a really big difference to helping create your own little foodies.
You can read the full article here
I really hope it’s helpful.