Cora's early weaning experience
One of my first concerns about weaning was Cora having allergies like her daddy. The NHS website advised waiting until 6 months lowered the risk of having allergies. I therefore didn’t begin my research until Cora was 5 months old.
I read some books and learned about ways to wean, baby led or purees, and I went on a weaning workshop given by the NHS (which was not particularly helpful but I learned a thing or two). I was really excited about introducing solids although a little overwhelmed with information. I wanted to be super prepared.
The day Cora turned 6 months we gave her first solid meal. We gave her a plain steamed potato, peeled and cut into wedges served in a yellow plastic bowl, which we then had to take away from her because she was more interested in the bowl than the actual potato but eventually she had a go.
One of the things I struggled to figure out was at what point in the day I should be giving her solid meals. Previously we had a well established routine following the E-A-S-Y method so I was not sure if I should give her solids before her naps or skip the breastfeeding after nap and give her food instead. But after a little more research (thanks Google!) I finally decided to give her solid meals at lunchtime around 30-45min after her milk feed. 6 weeks later I introduced breakfast and by 8 months she was having 3 meals per day.
Weaning is messy and there’s no way out of it. Spoon feeding makes it slightly easier to clean than when the babies eat own their own but if you want your baby to feed themselves from the get go and enjoy their food just embrace the mess! We pretty much just let Cora feed herself but there are certain things like porridge for example that we spoon feed. Some days I want to cry at the mess she makes but I just take a deep breath carry on. A good bib is also very important to minimise the mess!
When it came to the actual food we were giving her I had learnt at the workshop to introduce vegetables before fruit as it is harder to get bubbas interested in savoury meals after they get used to the sweeter ones. So we gave Cora a different vegetable every day for 3-4 weeks before she even had a piece of fruit. In the early stages of weaning I simply steamed the vegetables and did not add any seasoning. I cut everything into a size that was manageable for her to hold but still kept the shape i.e. wedges, sliced carrots, broccoli florets, etc.
I wanted her to experience the true taste of the veggie on its own and some of them were more successful then other but I stuck to it. I read somewhere that you have to try something 15-20 times before you can say you don’t like it so if Cora she did not seem particularly interested in something (she struggled with carrots and bananas at first) I simply waited a few days, tried again and eventually she ate it.
To us it was incredibly important for Cora to eat real food and this process was somewhat easy because both of us love cooking. We started with one ingredient at a time because I was scared of allergies but that ingredient still was part of what the main family meal. So if for example we were having roasted sweet potato, Cora was having sweet potato however her portion was only steamed and had no salt. Once I was confident that Cora was not allergic to an ingredient we added others to it to give her more interesting meals. Eventually she was having the same meal as us. And I did a pinch of add salt to some of her meals particularly if I made batch meals like ratatouille, or turkey Bolognese but this was a personal choice and the advice is to avoid.
When it comes to weaning methodologies I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong answer. You do your research and choose the method that best suits your family dynamic and the way you eat. I think its important not to forget that you eventually will want to eat as a family and weaning a baby is the first stage you take into reaching that goal.