We’ve recently started weaning little Hikma since she turned six months. Armed with Gill Rapley’s book which I had stashed on the shelf from when we had Rahma, we dived right in and handed our Yorkshire lass her first food: a Yorkshire pudding.
But I wasn’t this confident first time around. I was overly-worried that Rahma was not getting enough nutrition, a balanced meal, I couldn’t measure what she was eating. Most of this stemmed from having my parenting choices questioned by everyone: baby-led weaning seemed to be a “fad” to everyone around me and I was constantly reprimanded and told my baby would choke to death if I gave her food whole without pureeing it first.
Second time around however, I steeled myself and re-read sections of Baby-led Weaning to reassure myself and dived right in. But I wish I had handy tips for when I was first starting out, just to reassure me during those first few weeks. So here they are; the tips I wish I had:
- Prepare for mess
This was difficult for me as I did not like food all over the floor. But as soon as we bought a table cloth for the floor and just wiped it down afterwards, I relaxed. Massive sleeved bibs were also a big help. But more than anything, it was mentally preparing myself for mess that helped.
- Prepare for her not to eat anything at all.
And once you’ve prepared for this, don’t let it trouble you too much. Anything your baby eats right now is a bonus. She is still getting everything she needs from milk feeds (especially if you’re breastfeeding) If you’re already prepared for her not to eat anything, when she does, it’ll be a happy bonus right? And do not be tempted to give in and start giving her sweeter foods because you’re told she will take them – of course she will take them since we are programmed to prefer sweet flavours. Stick to your guns and push the savoury first because you know that she will always take a sweet food like fruit later on, it’s going to be the broccoli and swede that may present a problem if she hasn’t ever tasted it.
- Follow the baby.
In the early days with Rahma, we were mocked countless times for being “baby-led”. But this is what helps in this situation. If your baby is tired and cranky, she won’t try food. So follow her: let her take the nap, have the breastfeed (or bottle) even if it is dinner time. She doesn’t care what time it is, she just wants to be a baby.
- Plan in advance.
It really cuts down in food preparation time if you know what meals you are having when and how easily they can be adapted to the baby. (More on this in detail in another blog post) If you know you’re making daal, just leave out the salt and chilli or take some daal out before you add the less baby-friendly ingredients. That way you’re not cooking separate dishes but you’re not compromising your baby’s health by giving her exactly what you’re eating because her little tummy can’t take it. But this is your chance to change your own eating habits too – if she sees you making healthy choices, she’ll grow up to make healthy choices too.
Equally, if you fancy a night off and are having take-away, make sure you have something in the house for the baby. Porridge fingers are awesome and can be flavoured with pretty much anything. Savoury muffins are equally good. I should write some recipes, shouldn’t I?
- Relax and have fun.
Right now, food is not for nutrition – it will be, but not in the early days. The more you relax, the more your baby is going to be willing to try new things. Give her options and enjoy the messy, dirty, sometimes disgusting ride.
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