I have no idea how it happened, but I’ve checked the calendar at least twice, and it’s true. JB, my beautiful, tiny little baby has reached 6 months! He’s ready to start his Weaning journey, which is really exciting, slightly terrifying and also tinged with a little bit of sadness that he’s growing up so quick.
He may still be squeezing into 0-3 months clothes, but he’s sitting up, has good head control and can see and grab specific objects and bring them to his mouth for a chew. These are all classic signs that he’s ready to start Weaning!
The first thing we needed to do was go shopping (my favourite thing after cooking and sleeping) and get a few bits ready to start.
Top of the list is a high chair, when we started Weaning OB, we were gifted a fancy padded high chair, but it was a nightmare to clean after each meal, so like many parents, we headed to IKEA to get the antilop chair.
We also got a drinking cup, so we can start to introduce water as a drink. There’s no pressure for your little ones to be drinking lots of water as they’re still having breast milk or formula, but I like to have a cup on the table, so JB can start to explore and copy. At this point it doesn’t actually have water in! We are massive fans of Babycup cups, we used them from the start with OB and will use them with JB too.
We have decided to do Baby led weaning (BLW) with JB, we used this approach with OB and we all really enjoyed it. But I like to put a spoon out for JB as sometimes he likes to copy us and sometimes he likes to chew on the spoon, rather than the food!
Choking or Gagging?
Whenever I talk to fellow mums about weaning, the thing that always comes up is the fear that our babies will choke, especially when we discuss BLW.
The best advice I was given was to attend a first aid course aimed at babies and young children. Mr M and I were fortunate to be given a first aid course at the school we work in by St Johns Ambulance just before OB arrived, they also have a helpful video on the NHS website. However, we are hoping to attend a refresher course run by Mr M’s talented cousin Esther who runs Skylark Training and offers tailored courses for baby specific first aid, there are similar companies around the country.
Despite the course and reading books, like Gill Rapley’s Baby led Weaning, I didn’t fully understand the difference between gagging and choking.
People kept telling me that a babies gag reflex is much further forward in their mouth, and that though it appears that they are choking they aren’t. If they are coughing and spluttering then they are gagging, so you don’t need to worry, its if they are silent and going blue you need to perform first aid.
Well that’s reassuring, I won’t worry anymore, except I did, a lot.
I became really stressed about the prospect of OB choking to the point where I would take his food away before he’d finished because I couldn’t take it anymore. I was just about to give up on BLW, when feeding OB, he gagged on some food. I have no idea what calmed me, but I decided to wait a second to see if he could sort it out himself. He opened his mouth and I could see the food sitting on the middle of his tongue, it was no where near his windpipe! This gave me the reassurance and confidence I needed to continue. But I’m no expert, so if you want to read more have a look at this article on the difference between gagging and choking by the Babycenter,
The start of weaning is all about exploring and having fun, eating food is almost a side effect, especially to start with. There’s a phrase that is doing the rounds that states ‘food is fun until they’re one’. This doesn’t mean they don’t need to wean and begin to eat solid foods, but that you don’t need to panic if it takes a little bit of time, as with everything, if you are concerned check with your health visitor. When we were weaning OB, he was around 9/10 months before he started ‘eating’, up until then he was trying, tasting and exploring. By 11/12 months he was fully eating 3 meals and snacks, but still having milk feeds. He was eating full meals a little later than other children his age probably because he was born premature, but be guided by your own baby.
Ideally, the foods you introduce to your baby will be boiled/steamed fresh veg. you need something where the texture is soft enough to squash between their tongue and the roof of their mouth. You can check by using your thumb and forefinger. Try and leave processed foods, like bread until they are a little older. The NHS website has some good suggestions of what to introduce and when.
With JB we started with cucumber!
I love cucumber because it’s easy to hold, and even though its not a squishable texture, the seeds are soft enough for them to have a munch, but they are very unlikely to bite through the flesh and the skin without any teeth! The joy of this food was something we learnt with OB.
Next on the list for this week is to try some potato, sweet potato and apple.
These are some top tips that mum have shared with me over the years, what top tips would you add?
There’s no denying BLW is a messy business. Get a bib, or apron or even strip off your little one before they start eating. I’ve even heard of parents feeding their little one in the garden! Maybe not at this time of year though.
Also, invest in a mat to cover the floor, we use a plastic wipe clean number from Dunelm Mill. A great piece of advice was to get a disposable changing mat to take out with you if you eat out, I’m definitely stealing this one this time around.
It will become the subject of most of your conversations as it will change daily! It’s also the best indicator that food is going in.
Foods to avoid
There are certain foods that babies can’t have e.g. honey, salt etc. If you’re not sure google it, but make sure you look for an official site rather than anecdotal information as people can be wrong.
Introducing new foods
Try new foods in the morning, that way if they have a bit of wind or a reaction to the food, then you’re not dealing with it at night/bedtime.
Build up slowly
Don’t feel you have to start with 3 meals a day. In the first week or two you may find they don’t have food everyday. Maybe start with one meal a day, I always find lunch the best option, as it’s just us and hopefully they won’t be too tired.
Pick your moment
Try introducing food at a time when they’re not too tired or too hungry, almost impossible to be fair, but offer a milk feed first as it will help to reduce frustration and try and pick a time when they’re awake, remember, you don’t need to stick to conventional meal times.
This is such a special time for you and your baby, try and have fun as much as you can, before you know it they’ll be 15 and only wanting to eat baked beans x
I hope you find this helpful if you’re about to start your weaning journey. I would love to hear from you about any tips or advice you have or just how your journey is going.