With lockdown and the increasing challenges on our healthcare system, the health visitor support that you need during the first year of your baby’s life can be harder to come by. For many years I delivered an incredible NHS weaning course but these are increasingly rare and often not available when you need them. Instead parents have the option of online weaning workshops to help them to prepare for this next stage in their babies life.
Can’t I just Google it?
Yes. Yes you can. There is a huge amount of information online. In fact, all the information you will ever need is out there somewhere. And if you have the time to sit down and work through it, you will find the answer to what you’re facing right now.
The challenge is knowing whether the person sharing which foods to avoid to reduce wind, or how to prepare finger foods safely, is actually qualified to do so or if they are simply sharing their personal opinion. There is nothing wrong with reading about real experiences of weaning (in fact you can read my series of blog posts here) but if you have a specific question on something nutritional or regarding safety, then you need to know you can trust the advice you are reading. It can be hard to figure this out online, when you don’t speak to the person directly.
My mum / gran / aunt / neighbour says I should do it this way
It's an occupational hazard of being pregnant and becoming a parent - everyone has an opinion on how and what you should be doing, and weaning is no exception. In fact, because food is so personal, it can often raise all sorts of discussions about what 'normal' eating is within families. Friends and family are an incredibly valuable source of trusted information when you become a parent, but just as you will develop your own views on parenting, how you feed your baby is entirely up to you. Advice has changed over the years, as have the foods that are available to us, and so what was considered normal practice when you were an infant may not be the best thing to do now. It takes a very diplomatic person to be able to manage personal opinions of family members, but remember that you can choose to introduce food to your baby when you are ready and in whatever manner you see fit. An online weaning workshop might even be something you can do with your mum or family member, to bring them up to date, challenging their views without causing any friction!
The main challenge I see for parents is feeling confident about the choices they make when starting to wean their babies. Most people I work with already have an idea of what and how they want to wean, but they don't have the reassurance that what they are thinking is best for their baby. And let's face it, we all want to do what's best where possible.
Without baby groups, and in person meet ups, it is harder to check in with what other people are doing when it comes to starting solids. Attending an online workshop, rather than doing a webinar or digital course, or reading about it online, gives you chance to ask questions and hear from other people who are in the same boat as you. Hearing that someone else also is unsure about how much to feed their baby, or is worried about introducing allergens, can reassure you that you aren't the only one facing these challenges.
How to choose a course
There are lots of people offering weaning workshops online, and a million and one opinions on weaning on blogs and instagram - how do you know who to listen to?
Firstly, look at what the persons background is. Yes the experience of a mum having been through it herself if helpful, but it doesn't qualify her to support you on introducing allergens, or knowing when to supplement or which dairy-free milk might be suitable for your allergic baby. A Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian is not only well qualified, but stays up to date with the latest research and updates their advice accordingly - they wouldn't remain registered otherwise.
Secondly, have a look at any other services they offer and whether they might conflict. I have seen a lot of sleep consultants offering weaning advice, which is not always appropriate because their primary goal is to get your baby to sleep using their sleep program. If someone is encouraging you to feed to schedule or restrict certain foods after a specific time of day, they are not using the best evidence to support you with weaning.
Finally, see what they promise about the workshop. No one can make your baby eat in a certain way or guarantee that they won't become a fussy eater, or even that they won't develop an allergy. Anyone making huge claims about what their course can do should be able to back it up with evidence - whether that is research or feedback from participants. Have a look at any reviews and don't be afraid to ask questions before signing up.
First Tastes: Starting Weaning
I run an online weaning workshop which will help you to feel more confident about starting weaning. I bring my 10 years' experience as a Registered Nutritionist together with my practical experience as a mum, to give you the information, and space, to decide how and when you are going to wean your little one. I can't tell you what will be best for you, but I can help you feel confident that whatever you do choose is right for you and your family.
My workshops are 90 minutes long, with a limited number of spaces, so that we have time to talk about your specific concerns and I can answer the questions that you have.
Topics covered include:
Signs baby is ready for weaning
Baby led weaning
Stages of weaning
Preparing & storing food safely
Foods to avoid
Gagging & choking
Vitamins for babies
Moving onto meals
After the workshop, you will get handouts to support you in the early days of weaning, and from January 2021, access to a private Facebook group, where I will be able to answer your ongoing questions about weaning.