When the time comes to begin weaning your baby on to solid foods it can feel a bit like working in the dark.
If this is your first baby, it might just feel as though you have only just got the hang of their milk feeds and this is a major spanner in the works.
In fact, I remember a friend of mine referred to the anxiety she felt regarding the impending weaning experience as her baby “cheating” on her with solid food.
Weaning a baby on to solid foods is a huge milestone for sure. It is one that is steeped in anxiety for so many reasons.
You’re worried they won’t take to solid food, worried it will affect their sleep and many breastfeeding mums are concerned about how it will affect their supply and hormones as milk feeds may reduce.
Then comes the mess. It is perfectly normal to fear and dread the mess that solid food can and does lead to. It’s a fact of life and the thoughts of all that extra cleaning up and attempts to remove stains from clothes might be a little intense.
Anything that helps make your weaning experience easier is worth considering, right? Like many things in this world of parenting there is only so much you can prepare for, but when it comes to weaning there are actually some things that you can do before and during the process that can really make a positive difference.
For the purpose of this post we are assuming that weaning is in the traditional sense, starting with purees and moving on to finger foods. We have covered a lot of baby-led weaning areas too but we’ll keep this one general.
1. Pick up all the equipment you will need but keep it simple. You can boil and steam foods easily using your regular household machines but it is a good idea to pick up suitable spoons, bowls and beakers that are BPA free and safe for your little one.
2. Do your research when it comes to a high chair. Safety is the most important thing but the most expensive high chair won’t necessarily be the one for you. On a personal level, we bought two high chairs before realizing that the sixteen euro IKEA high chair was the one for us. It’s easy to wipe down, store away and my baby was really comfortable in it.
3. What will your baby be wearing? Investing in some good quality food bibs is a good idea. Again, I found these in IKEA and bought several. There was always one on the baby, one on the line and one waiting in the wings if I needed a spare. They really saved my baby’s clothes from being destroyed!
4. Do a couple of practice runs when it comes to making the food. You may be approaching the recommended weaning age and in the weeks leading up to it you can spend some time making your own purees and foods that can be safely frozen and defrosted when they are needed.
5. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Weaning is a slow and steady introduction to solid food so remember that every spoonful makes a difference and it is normal to feel like your child might take some convincing.
6. Remember that variety is key and it is important to offer an array of savoury and sweet options. Starting with vegetables is very popular.
7. Pick up a little notebook so that you can keep track of what foods you introduced and when. This will help you decipher any adverse reactions or allergies that you may notice.
8. Do some research and get your head around the things you should avoid giving your baby before they are at a certain stage or age. The HSE website offers great advice regarding this.
9. Remember that your greatest tool will be following your baby’s lead so try to relax and have a loose schedule.
10. Babies can be very fickle. What they loved one day they might totally reject the next day. Stick with it and don’t read too much into these things as it is a constant work in progress.