This is the first part of a two-blog series on weaning, or complementary feeding, on The Motherload®. Many parents will try baby-led weaning, others will feed purees and some do a combination of both methods. Health Visitors use the term complementary feeding because it is an addition to breastmilk, or formula.
All the expert guidance says to wait until your baby is six months old before introducing any solid food and weaning is a journey which can take six months or more, before your baby is eating most healthy, family foods. You can find all sorts of guidance on when and how to start from the Institute of Health Visiting and the NHS.
In the second part of this series we will look at baby-led weaning, and in this blog, Laura explains how she went down the puree route.
Laura’s Experience of Introducing Solids
I was so confused when it came to introducing solids. Five months of finally getting my daughter to breastfeed properly and it was time to start over.
If you’re anything like me, setting yourself up with all the gear will make you feel prepared, even if you’re not. I spent a lot of time researching what I needed and getting more and more overwhelmed. All I wanted was someone to tell me exactly what to do. I was tired. I didn’t want to make decisions.
So I’ve pulled together my guide to getting yourself ready for introducing solids, using the puree method. You’re gonna need some new stuff, specifically:
A high chair
Being able to put your baby in a high chair is a total game changer. With a sippy cup or a high chair toy, you can drag out a good 40 minutes of high chair time every meal. The Ikea Antilop Highchair is great and easy to clean. If you want to get a fancy one people rave about the Stokke Tripp Trapp and apparently they aren’t insanely expensive if you get them second hand from Gumtree.
A friend told me ‘a spoon is a spoon‘ when I asked her which kind of spoons I should buy. Wrong.
Perhaps if you have a naturally hungry baby, who actually wants to eat food, it doesn’t matter. But M definitely has a favourite spoon. She’ll eat much more from her special orange spoon and that made a real difference, especially in the beginning. She prefers a solid spoon which has a shallow bowl. We have one of these NUK ones we got free with a dummy once, and it ended up being the one we had to wash after every meal. I guess your baby could like a totally different kind of spoon though.
It goes without saying: you’re going to have crap everywhere. You’ll want to shield clothes as much as possible, unless of course you love doing even more laundry than you’re already doing.
You could just use cloth bibs, but I prefer the wipe clean ones with full body coverage. If you have two and rinse them in the sink after every meal you can alternate when the other is drying. Less laundry is never a bad thing.
Bibs are great when you start giving them finger foods too. They have little pockets at the front where babies can hide all the bits of toast and banana that you thought they’d eaten. Easier to empty a bib than clean the floor.
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As soon as they start eating, they need to start drinking water. So you’re going to need a sippy cup.
There are so many different kinds of these it’ll drive you crazy! I ended up buying a couple of different ones that she seems to like equally so I don’t think this matters too much. Just go for no spill as it’s going to get chucked on the floor. A lot.
We have this Tommee Tippee one, which apparently has had instances of mould growing inside. However, we wash it and check inside the valve and it’s been fine. We also have this Munchkin one which is ingenious – I can’t work out how to drink out of it but she manages just fine!
You need to serve up the food in something, ideally a bowl, especially if you’re doing purees. Babies like testing gravity from the high chair so you’re going to need plastic ones.
I don’t think it matters what kind you get, but I found this Tommee Tippee Explora Feeding Kit good for transporting food in.
Once they’re eating more you’re going to of course need some bigger ones for at home. You can also get one of these Thermos Food Flask to take hot food out and about with you.
A hand blender
There I was on day one of vegetables and I had my recipe book ready. I carefully followed the recipe for pureed carrots: ‘Chop carrots, boil in a pan of water until soft, drain, puree with a blender.’ Oh right. Purees are actually ridiculously easy to make. You just need a blender constantly on hand.
Even when you progress away from just fruit and vegetables, you can still use your blender to make coarser blends of pasta dishes etc.
Ice cube trays
There’s no way you’re going to make new food for every meal. And there’s no way your baby’s going to eat everything you’ve made in one sitting. So you’re going to be freezing a lot of food.
You don’t need anything fancy to do this. Just bog standard ice cube trays will do the trick. When you’ve made a batch of pureed veg, fill up a couple of ice cube trays and put the trays into the freezer in a labelled sandwich bag. Once they’re frozen, you can pop the frozen vegetable cubes into the sandwich bag. This works great for throwing together mixes of vegetables or adding veg to another dish in a hurry.
Freezer storage tray
Regular ice cube trays are all you need for single vegetable purees that you’re likely to mix together to make a meal. However, for things like spag bol or other meals as you move beyond vegetables, I preferred these larger freezer storage trays. Once the food is frozen, you can pop out big frozen balls of food ready to defrost and eat.
When we started M on solids, it was a disaster: she wouldn’t eat anything we gave her. They say food is for fun until they’re one, but it didn’t feel like much fun to us.
Baby porridge was a life-saver. We started her off with breakfast anyway, so giving her food that tasted a bit like what she was used to (milk) was ideal. Her favourite was, and still is, HiPP Organic Creamy Porridge.
We used Ella’s Kitchen pouches, but other brands are available. Once you start freezing your vegetable cubes, you’re going to see your freezer filling up pretty quickly. You’ll likely need a bit of help to get your baby to taste a variety of vegetables, before your freezer is entirely full.
Having a store of Ella’s for the first few weeks when you need to just get them tasting different foods is invaluable. If they aren’t eating that much, one pouch could last for two meals and cost you around £1. They also bloody love having food squeezed directly into their mouths!
And finally, you’re going to be cleaning a high chair at least three times a day. There are going to be times you can’t be arsed to clean it properly. Antibacterial Wipes, and if you’re really splashing out a handheld vacuum cleaner (seriously, this changed my life), are your best friends.
The Actual Feeding Bit
Once you’ve got all your stuff together, you’re going to have to tackle the hard bit: actually feeding them. But don’t worry about that for now, just get your shit together.
If you’ve got any other recommendations, please post in the comments!