I thought I’d share with you my experience weaning Fletcher and what I have found helpful and easy to ensure I’m organised. I have a few tips that have helped me throughout the process, to ensure Fletcher also tries a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Now I know there’s a debate between mum’s as to when you should wean your baby. I just want to start by saying I am fully aware that the guidelines are 6 months. The reason why we weaned Fletcher at 4 months was based on the advice we were given by his Cystic Fibrosis Nurse. At first, I was fully prepared to wait until 6 months or there abouts. But we went into hospital for Fletcher’s routine clinic visit and the nurse asked us if we’d thought about weaning him. I was a bit confused, expecting to be waiting a few more months, but she said we were able to start weaning him from 17 weeks+ depending on how good his head control was. Some signs that they are ready to be weaned are as follows:
- Good head control
- Showing an interest in your food (Fletcher wouldn’t take his eyes off of us eating)
- Can sit up well (Fletcher will sit with support)
- Pick things up and put it in their mouth
- Will swallow food when you offer it to them
The nurse told us that the 6 month guidelines are a worldwide guide, and can apply more so to third world countries. I assume that’s’ due to breast milk being better for them than the food they have available?! This is why, in the UK we can start weaning from 4 months if we wish to and we feel our child is ready. It’s recommended not to wean before 17 weeks due to their digestive system not yet being fully developed. So debate aside, we decided to try to wean Fletcher, and if he didn’t take it well, then we’d just wait and try again in a few weeks time. But he LOVED it!
I signed myself to receive a free booklet from Cow & Gate which laid out a 5 step plan to weaning. This was a super helpful book as I just had no clue how to begin. I also had a few other books. Those of you who know me well will know I’m all about research. I will read into everything and anything before I start something, just to make sure I’m doing it the right way. Or at least a good way. I also find it really interesting to read about how baby’s develop and learn new things.
Here’s a small breakdown of the steps the Cow & Gate booklet highlights, but I would recommend getting it as it’s more detailed and FREE!
Start with single vegetables – by making vegetables their very first spoonful this can benefit baby’s health in the long run. Research has shown that encouraging veg intake during weaning will help to shape baby’s preferences meaning that they’ll form a healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Start with savoury: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Peas. Babies only need 2-3 teaspoons of a veg per day. It’s not about filling them up as milk needs to still be the most important, it’s more about tastes. Once they are used to these you can start to introduce various other vegetables and you can introduce fruit.
Vary with new vegetables, fruit and different textures – once your baby is enjoying a few simple veggie flavours, you can start to explore a whole new world of veg tastes and textures. You can also try fruit – the more types the better! It can take them 8-10 tries before they learn to love a new food. You can try soft finger foods too, such as broccoli, sweet potato wedges, banana and so on.
Repeat vegetables, add meat, fish other proteins, dairy and carbohydrates – have fun with yummy combinations and ass protein to help them grow. You can start to really mix it up, adding new foods and flavours. This is when you can begin to increase the quantity of food your baby is having.
Introduce mealtimes, starting with breakfast – breakfast makes the perfect start to a mealtime routine. They are now ready to move towards eating regular meals and a healthy, baby-friendly brekkie is a brilliant way to give them some of the energy they need for a full on day of play! Continue with their morning milk feed so they’re not too hungry to enjoy breakfast.
Establish 3 meals a day – soon you’ll be enjoying healthy, happy mealtimes as a family. By the end of this step you will be on the way to giving them an adventurous attitude to good food.
It can be difficult to provide your little one with a different fresh vegetable every single day without wasting lots of food. So I thought I’d share how I prepared Fletcher’s puree’s to enable me to give him a different taste every day for a week. We then revisited each flavour the following week to ensure he remembers and enjoys each veg.
I bought 7 different types of veg: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peas, Carrot, Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Swede. I also have a brilliant Tommee Tippee Steam Blender.
This has been my absolute favourite thing! So most of the veg I bought, I used in our meals and just put a small amount into the blender to steam and puree for Fletcher separately. Once I made the puree, I put 2-3 teaspoons into either a small pot or ice-cube tray with a lid, which I then froze ready to use throughout the next few weeks. I was then simply able to pop out a frozen cube and defrost in the microwave every day.
This was working really well, enabling me to give Fletcher a new taste each day, until I ran out of containers for the amount I was freezing. Especially when I started to add fruit and a new variety of vegetables. So I started to pop the frozen cube out, wrap it in foil and then put it into a bag with a label of what was inside on the front. This allowed me to freeze lots of different flavours and textures and store it for future use.
This is the top drawer of my freezer. It’s oddly satisfying to me!
To begin with, as I said before, the first week I gave Fletcher 2-3 teaspoons of a different veg every day for a week. We did this at lunch time as he was most alert and happy. The following week, I then revisited those veggies, to allow him to remember, and re-taste those veggies. During this, I learnt that he likes everything but Peas so far.
The next week, I added a few different veggies, also remembering to change taste every day and revisit them again to give him chance to learn to love the tastes. Still waiting for him to enjoy peas…
I then started to add fruit into his tastes, which was a completely different experience for him. Lots of funny faces, but he’d finish everything looking like he wanted more! Not forgetting those veggies – so I alternated fruit and veg each day. Still, peas is a no.
We have just started to add 2-3 teaspoons of breakfast into his routine now. I use fruit as his breakfast taste and savoury for lunch. I will soon add porridge and different textures into his routine and he will be increasing to 3-4 teaspoons for lunch in the next week. As I began weaning him at 4 months I am spreading out the Steps over a longer period as I do not want to rush it. He is still having lots of milk feeds which is key. Once I increase his lunch I plan to begin mixing flavours so I can put 2 different cubes of veg together to create a combination for him to enjoy!
Not only is he loving weaning, but I’m loving creating his puree’s and watching him enjoy them! I have also purchased a ‘Fill and Squeeze’ which means I’ll be able to make my own food pouches when he is having more than just teaspoon amounts.
MY TOP TIPS
- Purchase a good quality blender to make those perfect puree’s
- Stock up on freezer pots or ice-cube trays
- Make veggies their first taste
- Keep trying as it can take them 8-10 tries before they love something
- Batch freeze puree’s to help save time daily
- Smile and have fun when weaning so that they learn it’s a happy and fun time!
- Steam rather than boil as it helps to keep in all the goodness
- Stock up on bibs!
- Purchase baby food pouches for convenience if travelling if you wish
- If you’d like to use your own puree’s, use a freezer bag and ice packs to keep the food frozen until you are able to defrost them when required.
- Take advantage of freebies and vouchers to help the weaning process! (Below is Ella’s Kitchen weaning freebie, which also came with a voucher for a free food pouch!)