Welcome to my new guest series Weaning Wisdom Wednesdays. Each week, a guest blogger will feature, either by writing their own original piece about what they’ve learnt during their weaning journeys or by answering my set of questions. We are kick starting the series by featuring the lovely Hayley from Devon Mama. Hayley is a great friend of mine so I’d love it if you went and checked out her fabulous blog.
Hi Hayley, welcome to Weaning Wisdom Wednesdays. Please start by introducing yourself and your family.
Hi, I’m Hayley – a 30 year old mama, wife and recovering sleep addict. Living with my husband, baby and the world’s bounciest dog in rural Devon, I can usually be found attempting to cook, Googling everything and embracing the strange new world that is parenting. I can be found over at Devon Mama talking about our lives with a ten month old as well as recipes, products and days out that we genuinely love as a family. Throw in a healthy dose of my ramblings and a bit of humour and there you have me!
What method of weaning are you using?
I knew from the start that I wanted to go down a baby-led weaning route but unfortunately our little boy didn’t quite get the memo and wasn’t such a fan of food. We persevered with solely baby-led for a couple of months before adding in a little bit of puree to try and make sure he was eating enough. Now, four months in, he’s primarily baby-led with a few traditional principles; anything runny tends to be fed to him or given to him on a pre-loaded spoon and at nursery he’s spoon fed normally. I’m happy with the combination of where we’ve got to, it feels like a good balance for us.
When did you start weaning and why?
We started weaning on the day he turned six months. I only ever planned to exclusively breastfeed (EBF) for the first three months but that continued up until six months (and continues alongside food to this day!). In my head it became this huge thing; I’d read some stats on how a crazily low number of babies make it to six months EBF and for some reason became obsessed with being in that percentage. It’s funny what a lack of sleep will do to you!
Talk us through your journey, how did you start, what foods did you use?
We were stood in the kitchen discussing the fact our baby was six months and suddenly something in me snapped. Determined that we should jump on the weaning wagon, we got a carrot from the fridge and gave it to him. We were so terrified he’d choke that we gave him the whole thing! Suffice to say, he was less than impressed but used it as a good teething toy.
Over the next few weeks we went primarily for vegetables. It took me a week or so before I gave him anything cooked so he lived on peppers and cucumber! Once we’d embraced cooked food we added more and more veggies, then fruits to the mix and finally things like bread, yoghurt, cereal. We tried a few of the fruit pouches but he was having none of it so the majority of those are still at the back of the cupboard.
About a month in we started trying to give him meals more and it’s at this stage that we tried including some pureed pouches just to get food in to him. He’s happy exploring his food but little makes it into his mouth and it was starting to worry me. He’s great at breakfast (loves banana pancakes or a piece of toast), good at lunch (his main meal of the day) but still isn’t a big fan of tea time even now. He goes to bed at 6pm so I think it’s possibly just a little too tight on the timings between lunch and his milk feed.
What are baby’s favourite and least favourite foods?
He loves yoghurt and custard but his absolute favourite, which I can’t believe I’m sharing with you, are Heinz Biscotti biscuits. He is OBSESSED with them. I try and make him healthier alternatives which he’ll eat happily but if you really want him to do something or to try and keep him entertained, a biscuit does the trick nicely… he must get that from his mama!
He really doesn’t seem to be a fan of egg; if we try and give him omelettes or egg on toast he pulls a face yet he’ll happily eat banana pancakes which are mostly egg! We also gave him some jalepeno bread the other day which, whilst it isn’t spicy, is the spiciest thing he’s tried. He wasn’t a huge fan of that!
What sort of food does baby eat when you’re out and about?
This is why I LOVE baby-led weaning, we don’t have to spend our meal out feeding him. We pack a lunchbox for him – he’ll have half a cheese sandwich (usually seeded wholemeal bread), some veggie sticks, soft fruit and a yoghurt. If we’re out for a while I’ll pack some rice-cakes or his beloved biscuits for him and he always has his Tommee Tippee cup of water. We’ve got eating out down to a tee now, we keep him out of the highchair and playing with us until our meal comes at which point he goes into the highchair and his meal appears too. It’s one of my favourite things to see us all enjoying a meal together, I love eating out and I’m lucky to be able to share that time with my boys!
What highchair do you use? Do you recommend it to other Mums?
We use the Cosatto Noodle Supa in Monster Mash print and I love it! The review I wrote of it is one of the most popular pages on my site! It’s bright and funky, is comfortable and adjusts up and down in height so you can have it nearly at floor level or up at the dinner table. It’s not the smallest chair in the world but we’re fortunate enough to have storage space for it so it works a treat. I’d recommend it to anyone!
What’s your opinion on offering baby fast food?
I don’t agree with giving babies fast food or chocolate really. It’s not that I’m hugely anti it, I just don’t see the point. I feel at this stage of his life, my little boy has got a wealth of foods left to try first and there’s no NEED to give him those things. It helps that me and my husband don’t eat a lot of fast food ourselves. We live in a rural area, places like McDonalds are a good 40 minutes away. If we were heading to that town, we’re more likely to go to a proper restaurant than a fast food outlet. If we were really stuck and it was the only option? Sure, but otherwise why would you? That said, I did let him try ice-cream the other day… maybe I’m just more worried he’ll love sweet things and junk too much!
What’s been the most challenging aspect of your weaning journey?
A couple months in we were really struggling. My son just wasn’t eating food like his friends were, he was far more interested in what was going on around him or trying to get out of the highchair so that he could explore. Just before Christmas I took him to be weighed and he’d dropped percentiles quite quickly. I cried so much over those few days; I was terrified I was stunting his growth and harming him by not forcing him to eat. I was given awful advice to basically starve him into submission by making sure he was hungry enough to eat. I genuinely was reaching the end of my tether and worried I’d still be breastfeeding him at 18. On Christmas day, we gave him a parsnip and after playing with it for a while, he wolfed it down. I couldn’t believe it, he ate 5 massive parsnips that meal and a couple of roast potatoes. Obviously I cried some more then!
That meal was a slow turning point for us. He started nursery in early January when I returned to work and that really helped get him more interested in food. When I (aka. The boobs) wasn’t there, he’d watch the other children eating and mimic them. He’s still not incredible with his eating but we’re nearly there now and we’ve never starved him to get him to eat..
Have you ever received any criticism for your weaning choices?
On the whole we’ve been fairly well supported for our weaning choices. I think both sets of grandparents struggled with us waiting until six months and also with the baby-led weaning route purely because it’s so different to what THEY were told to do. With that in mind, they’ve been supportive about our choices especially my poor mum who looks after him one day a week. Despite her absolute terror that he’ll choke and her hatred of the (rare) gagging fits, she continues to support our decision to let him feed himself. Even now when we’ve said it’s fine to feed him yoghurt by spoon, she continues to apologise every time for fear that she’s not doing what we’ve asked.
Do you meal plan or just offer whatever is available in the fridge?
This makes me laugh because I’ve had lots of conversations with you about meal planning and my need to do it! We used to meal plan but a baby threw us off track. We got into convenience eating and as such ended up going shopping nearly every day of the week; our food bill was ridiculous. We want to do work to our house and that means tightening the purse strings. I’ve meal planned for the first time this week and managed to sort our weekly shop for £30! Not only that but it’s helped me to plan in some better meals in terms of healthiness.
What tools have you bought that have been invaluable?
A good bib. Infact, multiple bibs! We have a couple that we rotate which are full sleeve coverall style ones – they’re from Amazon and I throw them in the wash every other day or so. We also use the Tommee Tippee roll up bib either over the top or on it’s own if we’re out and about. Some baby friendly spoons are always useful and a number of small Tupperware pots for taking food out with us. Other than that I recommend a dog for cleaning up the floor after meal times, or just a really good wipe clean mat… weaning is messy!
If you were to do it all again, what would you do differently?
I’d go in to it with more of a plan. I became so focussed on it being six months, I didn’t actually know how to start when we did. I’d also focus less on being paranoid about how much he was eating and more on just letting him enjoy food. Finally, I’d turn to Pinterest and the internet earlier for weaning ideas; I got stuck in a rut but there’s a wealth of lovely, simple recipes out there that can be made in advance and frozen to make things easier.
If you could give one piece of advice to new Mums who are about to start weaning, what would it be?
I would say to relax about it, understand the path that you want to take, do some reading about it and then see what happens. Babies don’t read books, they don’t know that there’s a certain way you want them to do things so don’t panic if you have to adjust your plans. The main thing I cling to is that I’ve never met an adult who still survives off of Biscotti and breastmilk… yet!
Thank you so much to Hayley for taking part. How gorgeous is her little boy? For more cute pictures of him go check out her social media below:
If you’d like to take part in Weaning Wisdom Wednesdays, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org