Saturday, 27 June 2015

Having solid food for the first time is such a big step for your baby so you need to choose a good time of day to approach this momentous event! Ideally it should be in between feeds so they are not too hungry and not too full and the same applies to naps, so choose a time where they are not tired. 

blw day 1 - broccoli

When starting out at 6 months babies mostly hold items with their whole hand in a clenched fist. Food needs to be chunky enough for them to hold that will not fall apart in their fist but also not too hard - a fine balance! 

Ideal first foods include:
Steamed broccoli 
Steamed cauliflower
Steamed carrot batons
Cucumber sticks
Avocado wedges
Steamed Apple wedges
Sweet potato wedges
Toast fingers
Rigatoni pasta tubes
French toast fingers
Porridge fingers
Vegetable fritters cut into fingers
Long strips of meat

You may see my love of steamed veggies. It really is worth having a steamer as steaming vegetables keeps all the vitamins and minerals in opposed to boiling or microwaving. Also steaming vegetables ensures they are perfectly cooked and flavourful. 

blw day 5 - chicken and green beans

So these are all good starting points but there are some foods that you should avoid. 

No honey for children under 12 months
Undercooked eggs

The Department of Health in the UK recommends that children under 1 have no more than 1 gram of salt a day. So considering the average slice of bread has 0.4g of salt per slice it soon adds up! Obviously fast food, processed meals, jars and tins usually have high salt contents so shouldn't be offered to your baby. My bug bear is the amount of salt in cheese! Once you start looking at nutritional labels you will be shocked by what you find in some of our most loved foods. 

Also keep an eye out on sugar content. Sugar does not contain any nutritional value at all so really does not need to be offered to your baby. It will only make things harder in the long run! Use naturally occurring sweet fruits and avoid refined sugar. 

blw day 9 - avocado

Monday, 22 June 2015

When it came to weaning first time round with Jessica I had never heard of baby led weaning (blw). As she was approaching 6 months old I had it all figured out in my head what I needed to buy and what I was planning to do. I bought a beaba babycook blender/steamer, purée freezer pots, an Annabel Karmel weaning book, bowls, spoons along with all the usual essentials.

The thought of weaning her early had never crossed my mind. She was such a good milk drinker and I actually didn't want to start weaning at all. I had just started to feel confident about milk routines and the thought of weaning and changing and compromising our routine filed me with dread to be honest.

Nevertheless as 6 months was nearly here the week before I spent ages in the kitchen steaming and blending fruit and vegetables then freezing and labelling them up. Then weaning day came! We started with some baby rice and she absolutely loved it. The next week went by without incident, she was really loving this food malarkey then all of a sudden we hit a brick wall! She completely changed and was not having any of it. I tried loads of different things but she was just not interested. Then one baby play date the next week changed everything. I was still offering her a bowl of food but she just didn't want it so my friend suggested finger foods. So she kindly shared her sons picnic and well she absolutely wolfed it down!

So there was no second thought involved when it came to weaning Oliver. I knew it would be blw before he was even born! This time round though I wanted to prepare myself for blw from the very start. I had previously borrowed the Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett from my friend when I was thrust upon blw with Jessica and it was a great help, especially for me who knew nothing about blw.

Moving on from simple individual foods I felt like I needed more help though when it came to actual recipes. That's when I bought the Baby-led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett. It is a really great book that has over 100 family recipes and also gives you a blw background, the basics and helpful advice. I would thoroughly recommend the cookbook for anyone starting out with blw.

So when Oliver was approaching 6 months out came the blw cookbook. Again as with Jessica I didn't consider weaning early. Oliver loved his milk and was absolutely thriving! In the UK the recommended minimum age for starting weaning is 6 months.

For blw to work successfully your baby ideally needs to be showing signs they are ready for food. This includes being able to sit unsupported, taking toys/their hands to their mouth and being able to reach out and grab items successfully. 

I did a test run to check his capabilities at 51/2 months with some bread sticks and while he could bring it to his mouth if you gave it to him he got frustrated at not being able to pick it up himself so I knew he wasn't ready.

Oliver trying out a bread stick at 5.5 months

When it comes to equipment you don't really need anything other than you, your baby and some food! A high chair or baby seat will come in handy and make things easier. We use a rubber scoop bib or sometimes I just strip him completely depending on what it is he is eating. One other item I would recommend is a mess mat. These are great for containing the mess and protecting your floor/carpet! All we use is a metre of pvc fabric from The Range.