Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Each week I am sharing a weaning story blog written by a mum who has taken the time to reflect back on their time introducing solids to their baby. These posts are not intended to provide specific weaning advice, but rather provide some insights into the realities of weaning and highlight that everyone's journey is different - there is no right or wrong approach to introducing solids, only the one that works for you.
This weeks weaning story comes from Victoria, who is mum to Alex and currently pregnant with her second child. Victoria runs parenting blog So Mummy, bringing together real mums experiences with advice from professionals - you can read the interview I did with her about pregnancy nutrition here.
When Katie got in touch to ask if I would like to feature in this series I was really excited to be involved. I wouldn’t say our weaning journey is anything especially out of the ordinary but I do hope some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way are helpful to other mummas out there starting with weaning.
Having done some research on weaning before Alex hit the magical six month mark I was quite excited to get going. I exclusively breastfed Alex so I was quite looking forward to introducing solids and the breastfeeding perhaps tailing off a little (although I did want to continue breastfeeding until one year).
Having read lots about both baby led weaning and also introducing new flavours with purée I decided I would try a bit of both.
I got myself some full body bibs (the type that cover the arms and hook round the highchair) and braced myself for the mess.
Right from the start I held the philosophy that all Alex’s experiences with food were important, whether he ate much or not, and I’d definitely recommend taking this view.
It can be quite disheartening watching your carefully prepared meals get rejected or dropped on the floor.
We started with finger foods initially offering two veg and one bit of fruit at each “meal” and he was having one meal a day. This didn’t last long to be honest as he ate very little. It was convenient as he had whatever fruit/veg we were having so it wasn’t any extra work. I also tried making my own purées with mixed success
⭐️ top tip...don’t try to freeze spinach and potato purée - it goes seriously disgusting. Apparently due to the starch in the potatoes ⭐️
Alex ate a lot more when I began offering purée and also baby porridge and rice. He quickly got up to two and then three meals a day - probably by seven months. The health visitor, however, told me to stop with the baby rice and porridge as they have very little nutrient value.
I was soon feeding Alex the same meals my husband Ed and I ate, giving him some as finger food and some as purée. I was very relaxed about the mess...I wanted him to really explore food and he certainly did!
During Alex’s weaning journey we faced two real challenges.
Firstly, Alex would come out in blister-type spots whenever he ate dairy or eggs.
These were really sore for him and we quickly made the link between the dairy and spots. We had to eliminate dairy and eggs entirely. As I was still breastfeeding it wasn’t too much of an issue until I stopped and needed another milk alternative.
The health visitor told me soya milk was best nutritionally so we have mostly given Alex this but I’ve always offered a variety of different ones including almond and oat to keep some variety for him. I’ve also learnt from Katie to avoid rice milk which can contain high levels of arsenic and isn’t suitable for under fives.
Another thing I noticed was that dairy free alternative products (even those marketed at children) often had a lot of sugar added so check your labels!!
After his first birthday Alex began to tolerate eggs which was great and by 20 months he can also cope with some dairy. I hope by the time he is two it’ll all be in the past.
Before we found out about Alex’s allergies we had planned for him to be mostly vegetarian but once we had to eliminate dairy and eggs we introduced more meat and fish as I just couldn’t get him to consistently eat a rounded enough vegan diet.
I definitely believe you can raise a healthy vegan baby but it requires a lot of organisation and planning and requires your baby to eat enough of the right things your offering.
Our second challenge was that Alex was in an out of hospital for a couple of months around his first birthday. He went COMPLETELY off his solids.
As I was breastfeeding the sudden leap in demand was draining for me as well. Alex lost a lot of weight and I felt a huge pressure to get him eating again. Everyone told me he would “bounce back” as babies do but to be honest he didn’t. He did regain all the weight (and more) but it took a good couple of months to build his appetite back up.
My advice to anyone who experiences something similar would be to not be harsh on yourself, you can’t make them eat. Accept that they may revert partially or fully to purée and that’s okay. You don’t see adults living off purée because they don’t like solids - they will grow out of it again!
I offered Alex lots of high calorie foods such as peanut butter, vegan yoghurt, oily fish etc to try and get the calories in.
I also offered breastfeeds whenever he wanted rather than cutting down on this which I had planned to do when Alex turned one. I did face some judgement from people about still breastfeeding past 1 (it’s amazing how before they turn one everyone thinks it’s great that you're still going and as soon as that birthday hits they expect you to stop).
But I knew it was best for Alex for me to keep going so that’s what I did. When I fell pregnant again my milk either dried up or changed flavour and Alex self weaned at 15 months - it was a completely pain free process and he just started to take the sippy cup of milk rather than the breast.
I really hope some of the elements of our journey have been helpful or interesting to other mums out there. Other things I found useful were following the lovely Katie on Instagram and also some great books
I’m also not ashamed to say I found Ella’s pouches really useful. I love to cook and Alex had plenty of home cooked meals but there were also many days when we were out or I’d run out of time when a quick pouch was a life saver!
Fancy sharing your own story of introducing solids? I would love to hear from you over on my instagram page.
Maybe you haven't quite started weaning yet but you're looking for some advice and inspiration. I run a monthly online weaning workshop where we will cover everything you need to know to get going with offering solid foods and feel confident to do so.