If you follow the Eats Amazing blog regularly you may know that this year I am taking part in the Organix No Junk Journey, which is all about encouraging parents to think about the foods we're feeding to our children and how we can make it as 'real' and healthy as possible. This month's topic is weaning, so today I'm digging out the baby photos, taking a trip down memory lane and sharing my top tips for making weaning as easy and relaxed as possible!
Two years ago when I was going through weaning with my younger son (who's now nearly 3, how did that happen?!) I had every intention of sharing all the details here on the blog, but like many of my good intentions, life (and a rather lively little toddler) got in the way and I never did get around to it. I did however write up lots of notes at the time and took plenty of photos too, so today I'm finally sharing our weaning journey - better late than never!
When I had my first child, who is now eight, I remember fretting over every little detail of his food. We took the puree route (baby led weaning hadn't made it into the mainstream at that point) and I spent quite some time in the kitchen creating ever more elaborate purees that, I have to be honest, got rejected more often than not! That was when I discovered Organix foods - a friend recommended the fruit purees as they were made from nothing but organic fruit - just as good as homemade with a fraction of the effort - and he absolutely loved them. He continued to be an Organix baby as I supplemented our home-cooked food with fun finger foods from Organix which were particularly useful for when we were out and about. Even now, more than 7 years later, he still enjoys the Organix rice cakes and oaty bars on occasion - they're great for popping into lunch boxes or for a quick snack!
The second time around, my approach was very different. I avidly read all I could about baby led weaning (how things changed in the five years between my two boys!) and thought it sounded perfect for our needs - with no pressure to cook special foods or purees I found it a far more relaxed approach. I didn't follow the BLW method religiously mind you - I was quite happy to pick up a spoon to give Small Baby a helping hand if he had something 'runny' to eat like soup or yoghurt, but the vast majority of his food was finger food and it was brilliant to be able to give him a bit of whatever we were having for most meals. I found weaning this way much messier but it was more fun and I felt a lot more relaxed knowing that he was developing his tastes and eating skills at his own pace.
One of my sisters has recently started her first weaning journey with her little one, and whilst I'm a great believer in doing parenting your own way, I was also happy to offer advice if asked. Based on my own experience, these are the top 10 tips I passed on to her:
- There aren't many 'rules' but the few there are are very important: No honey before 12 months, avoid adding salt to foods meant for baby and avoid whole nuts right up until the age of five as they are a choking hazard. Other choking hazards to be aware of are hard, uncooked foods like raw apple and raw carrot (try grating them instead), small round foods like grapes and cherry tomatoes (chop into quarters) and foods with skin (eg sausages) or bones (eg fish).
- Don't rush into it - keep things relaxed and let baby explore foods at their own pace. Start slowly with one 'meal' a day and build up from there.
- Buy bibs, many many bibs, the bigger the better! It's so much fun watching your baby explore the feel and textures of different foods as well as the taste, but it will get very very messy!
- The first few months are just about exploring food for babies, they are still getting most of their nutrients from milk so don't worry if they don't appear to eat much at first. Just let them have fun and explore at their own pace - they'll get there in the end!
- If you've got leftovers from a family meal, even a small amount, freeze it in ice cube trays for those days when what you're eating as a family might not suit baby, for example I always had some homemade soup or bolognese on hand for Small Baby in case we were eating something that was a bit spicy for him.
- Don't be afraid to let your baby explore unusual foods that you might not expect them to like - the more foods you can expose them to the better! I remember being amazed at how much Small Baby enjoyed olives on a family holiday - he wolfed them down!
- Buy a crinkle cutter, it makes slippery fruits and vegetables much easier to pick up and grip!
- Stock up on some portable foods for when you're out and about - ready made pots of fruit purees and age appropriate finger foods like rice cakes or corn puffs are perfect for keeping in your bag for emergencies and make life that little bit easier!
- Refillable food pouches are also brilliant for when you are out and about, they keep mess to a minimum, and lets face it, when you're away from the house you'll find life that little bit easier if you don't have to deal with yoghurt or fruit puree smeared all over baby and you! We love these gorgeous pouches from Nom Nom Kids.
- Most important of all, do what works for you! If you feel more comfortable starting with purees - go for it! If you want to go the full baby led weaning route - go for it! If you want to do a mixture of them both - go for it! A happy relaxed mum = a happy relaxed baby, weaning should be fun!
I've also compiled a quick list of 20 finger foods that are great for weaning babies as they start to explore new tastes and textures:
- cooked broccoli florets
- cooked carrot sticks
- avocado slices
- peeled pear slices
- toast fingers
- pitta bread slices
- rice cakes
- oat cakes
- steamed baby corn
- chopped jacket potato with cheese
- sticks of cheddar cheese
- chopped grapes
- chopped blueberries
- grated apple
- grated cheese
- grated carrot
- shredded chicken
- cooked pasta
- cucumber sticks
I hope that you find this post useful, I've really enjoyed looking back at the early days of eating for my boys and digging out some cute baby photos too! If you've got some cute baby weaning photos or tips of your own, be sure to share them across social media using the #NoJunkJourney hashtag - Organix would love to see them!
If you'd like more information on weaning, head over to the Organix website now to download your free copy of the Organix Little Book of Weaning, which is packed full of helpful tips and ideas to help you on your own weaning journey.
Disclosure: This blog post was commissioned by Organix as a part of a series of post for the No Junk Journey campaign. I was compensated for my time, however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.