What I wish I had known before weaning my baby
With thanks to Leanne Thompson, Leanne Helena Nutrition
Before I started weaning my baby, I was so excited to get started but once I did, I quickly found the process quite daunting. My excitement began to diminish as food started getting rejected and most of the food ended up on the floor. We’re now 6 months into our weaning journey and I am starting to see the light at the end of, what feels like, a very long and frustrating tunnel. Here are some things that I wish I had known before I started weaning, and an insight into how I found the process.
Your baby may not be a big foodie
After watching other babies eat mammoth amounts of food as their mums struggled to fill the spoons quickly enough, I was really surprised that my daughter wasn’t bothered about food at all. Six months after starting weaning, she still isn’t really bothered about food (except from shop bought ‘melty sticks’ which apparently no baby can resist) and has only just started getting mildly excited about eating cheese!
Their appetite can fluctuate a lot
There are many factors that can affect your baby’s appetite. My daughter was ill with various viruses for a solid month and during that time she barely ate any solid foods; all she wanted was milk. Illness, teething and tiredness can affect their appetite, so don’t panic if they reject a meal, or even a days’ worth of meals. Continue to offer food at every meal time and keep to your normal routine. Even if nothing is wrong, your baby might eat everything in sight one day and the next day they barely touch anything. Little ones are very good at regulating their own appetite, and encouraging them to eat more than they want may force them to ignore their satiety signals.
Babies don’t actually eat that much
Babies don’t always need whole meals and sometimes a few mouthfuls will suffice. After weaning my baby daughter using the baby-led weaning method, I found that she only ate very little amounts at any one time. Baby-led weaned babies especially tend to only eat a few mouthfuls at one time because eating is quite laborious when they have to pick the food up, move it around their mouths and work out how to swallow without gagging.
It can be incredibly frustrating
You can spend an hour making the most delicious, low salt, sugar-free meal for your baby and they won’t even attempt to try it. Arguably worse, you give them their food and the entirety ends up on the kitchen floor. Both scenarios are very frustrating and when this happens regularly you can really lose hope that things will ever change, but hang on in there!
Follow your baby’s lead
Although baby-led weaning already appealed to me, the predominant reason I used this method when weaning my baby, was because my daughter would not let me feed her. She would refuse anything on a spoon that I gave her but she would always try the finger food I offered. I made a few purees but quickly realised it was pointless and let her do what she wanted.
You can try every technique in the book and take everyone’s advice but your baby may still end up being a fussy eater.
If you’re anything like me and had high hopes of perfecting the weaning journey you would have read all the books, talked to other Mums, scrolled Instagram and listened to Podcasts to get the best weaning advice. My vision was to create a positive eating experience to encourage my daughter to love vegetables, enjoy her food and eat lots of it. In reality I have a very head-strong, sometimes fussy, banana lover (except for the days she hates it) with a very small appetite, despite me adhering to a lot of advice. While it can be frustrating, the most important thing to me is that she has a positive eating experience with no force feeding and ate what she wanted (from the foods I offer her) in a calm environment. We have years to introduce her to world of lovely food.
With thanks to Leanne Thompson. Find her on Instagram @leannehelenanutrition
Disclaimer: The views and advice given in this article are those of the guest writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Weaning Week or any other organisations represented on this platform