Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Each week I will be sharing a blog written by a parent, taking some time to reflect back on and aspect of their weaning journey. These posts are not intended to provide advice, but instead provide stories and insights from parents that will inspire, support and encourage you with feeding your own baby.
This week, Sam shares her journey of weaning her little boy Jasper, who was born prematurely at 33 weeks.
When I had Jasper unexpectedly at 33 weeks, every ‘normal’ milestone felt like it might be a mountain. Thankfully our birth and NICU stay was relatively uneventful. His arrival was put down to ‘just one of those things.’
Jasper suffered with awful reflux. Common in babies but more common for premature babies due to their immaturity. We sought help from an Osteopath as well as through medication. The doctors kept telling us it would improve when weaning started. I couldn’t wait to have a day that didn’t require multiple outfit changes for us both! Little did I know there would be some ‘orange’ and ‘green’ staining on the way.
We started weaning Jasper at 6 months actual age following GP advise as well as being directed to the BLISS weaning guidelines. Jasper was showing all the relevant signs such as good head control and an interest in what we were eating. He wasn’t sitting up unaided, this didn’t come until 7 months, so I had to get inventive as he was unable to support himself in the beginning in a high chair.
We started weaning with puree vegetables only. The literature is clear – Veggies First! We began with a variety of vegetables but always single flavours to get him used to the taste. I decided to do first tastes at lunch, as practically this felt like the best time.
Once we were in the swing of lunch, I added breakfast by way of porridge. I was still giving Jasper all his milk needs as he was formula fed but I found he wasn’t hungry for food. Our neonatal consultant told us we needed to drop his lunchtime bottle to encourage his food appetite. He was too full on milk so the interest in food wasn’t there. The reflux was also not improving as we had been told, as the amount of food he was eating wasn’t making any difference as it was too minimal. Following this we found Jasper really started getting into food and we began moving towards 3 meals a day.
The biggest challenge I felt we faced was Baby Led Weaning. Once we got comfortable with puree we were advised to move to do as much BLW as we could. It would help his motor skills as well as more textured foods would help the reflux.
Here we were at 9 months and I began to panic when he wasn’t really interested in picking up foods or eating snacks.
With Jasper being premature the fear of him not being able to do something immediately sets off alarm bells – are they ok, will they ever catch up, do they have something wrong with them etc. I was paranoid about giving him anything too hard so we started with softer items such steamed veg and ‘puff’ style crisps. Having had to do resuscitation training as a tick box exercise to be sent home from NICU, I didn’t fancy practising any of my skills.
My longer-term thought was ‘What if he can’t eat a sandwich when he goes to nursery?’ My panic was short lived and over the next month or so he was able to pick up and explore food. The reflux began to subside with more textured food and we were off all medication by 10 months. 2 trips to Spain that summer saw him willing to try all sorts of new and different foods.
My fear of rock hard breadsticks also disappeared as Spanish waiters thought they were doing right by giving them him by the packet load without incident! Since starting nursery his table behaviour has also come on leaps and bounds.
Now, as we approach 2, I am confident that our slow and steady approach along with vegetables first has allowed us to create a happy, non-fussy toddler who us willing to try and explore new foods.
You’ll find him most lunchtimes now happily eating crudités self-dipping in the hummus!
For more support with weaning a premature baby, the charity BLISS provides excellent information, which can be found here.
If Sam's story has inspired you to share you own, I would love to hear from you over on my instagram page. And if you are getting ready to start weaning and would like to know more about how to recognise when your baby is ready, or what those signs might look like, you can join my monthly online weaning workshops.