Ah, weaning. The process that sees you attempt to pile as much food into your baby’s face as they try to redecorate your ceiling, walls and floor with said food.
Sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating and always messy, Baby L has been on her weaning journey for the past five months. So far, it has been going pretty well as she has taken to most things that we’ve given her. For a sprog who has always been in the ninth percentile when it comes to weight, the girl knows how to polish off large portions of grub.
Weaning can be a pleasure as you see your little one try different textures and flavours – one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced as a dad is seeing Baby L pick food up by herself, put it to her mouth and eat it. Considering just a few months previously she was a newborn who was unable to do anything, the transformation is quite remarkable.
But, weaning can also be the mother of all bitches. For every good mealtime, expect to deal with two bad – crying as the little one decides she no longer ‘likes’ food, the annoyance of repeatedly picking up food off the floor and mess absolutely everywhere. Still, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, as it’s dropped from the highchair. See what I did there?!
Anyway, I feel like I’ve learnt a fair few things about weaning over the past few months. I’m not going to preach about the right way to do it or what you should avoid etc – at the end of the day you’ll figure out how best to stuff your child’s chubby, little face. What I did think would be useful though is to share five of my top baby weaning hacks which have helped us along the way. I’m not saying their perfect, but they’ve certainly made our life easier at times:
1) Share Your Food
I never thought I’d be saying this as I’m pretty precious about my own food, but sometimes you just have to share. When the goal is to get them used to different foods, giving them a bit of grub from your own plate is a pretty good option. Not only does it mean that they can taste bits of everything, it also saves you money as you don’t need to buy them food and is great for reducing the amount of food you eat yourself!
That’s not to say we don’t want her to eat her own food though – the last thing we want is for her to be an 18-years old weirdo who only eats from my plate. But, at the moment, giving her a taste of our food, particularly when out and about, is proving to be a great way of getting her to experience different flavours, whilst keeping her topped up with food. After all, it seems that babies want everything that isn’t theirs.
Don’t for one minute though think that this means that you can share my food. If you do, I’ll rip your head off…
2) Pretend To Eat Their Food
Similarly to the point above, you can make anything much more appealing for a baby if you make it yours, or at least pretend to. If your little one is throwing a diva-like strop and doesn’t want to eat their food, try taking a bit of it for yourself and pretend to eat it. Instantly, this food has now become a million times more attractive to your little human as they want to share what you have. Pretty sneaky, but very effective.
It is a common sight in our house to see the missus or I with a bit of the sprog’s food making fake “mmmmmmm” noises as we pretend to eat it. The missus’ faking skills are so good in fact that it’s started to make me question other areas of our life…
Something to consider though when applying this method is that it is fine in the confines of your own home, but you look a bit odd when in public. There’s also the danger of going overboard with your fakery and creating a kind of When Harry Met Sally moment. Be warned.
3) Suck Food Pouches
Our approach to weaning has been pretty relaxed. Although we do a lot of baby led weaning, that doesn’t mean we’re adverse to things like spoon feeding or using pouches. At the end of the day, it’s about her trying new stuff and hopefully taking on as much food as possible. Well, at least that’s our view.
For a while now, we’ve used food pouches as a quick way of feeding her when we’ve been on the go or if she isn’t massively feeling solids at that mealtime. But, rather than being the chumps we used to be who squirted the food onto a spoon, we found out that Baby L is more than happy to suck out the food herself. This means that food not only goes into our starving little human at bullet-like speed, but that it massively reduces any waning-related mess. Win, win!
In addition to using pre-bought pouches from the likes of Ella’s Kitchen and HiPP Organic, one of the best things we’ve bought is KOKO Baby Food Pouches which has allowed us to make our own purees or load them with yoghurt. With her new found sucking action, Baby L is able to polish off one of these pouches in seconds which has made the process loads easier.
4) Combine Foods Together
In an effort to fill Baby L with as much food and as many calories as possible, I’ve been known to channel my inner Heston Blumenthal by giving her some weird food concoctions. It’s not that I think that these are a culinary revolutionary, or even appetising for that matter, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
For whatever reason, sometimes Baby L decides she doesn’t want to eat something that she normally likes. The day before. she’ll have happily tucked into toast or pasta with gusto only seen by a competitor eater in training, but fast-forward 24 hours and she’ll not even accept it into her mouth. In scenarios such as this, I’ve been known to hide certain foods in other foods to trick the little one into eating what I want her to eat.
This has worked a treat – although “treat” might be a poor choice of words considering she’s eaten chicken hidden in strawberry yoghurt, bread covered in blackcurrant yoghurt and prawns concealed in porridge. Yummy!
5) Celebrate The Successes
Although not always easy, we try to focus on the positive, rather than the negative, when it comes to raising our little human. This means that most things she does, no matter how small, are met with encouraging words, noises and expressions. I never thought I’d celebrate a burp, a crap or a smile as much as I have over the last 11 months. I certainly don’t get a round of applause after pebble dashing the toilet.
This also goes for food. In the early days of weaning, she’d get a little cheer and clap if she tasted a bit of food. This progressed on to the likes of eating food from a spoon, picking things up by herself, putting food into her own mouth and drinking water from a cup. Each of these little successes were celebrated like she had scored the winning goal at Wembley to lift the FA Cup.
All of this positive reinforcement seems to have paid off as she continues to go from strength to strength on her weaning journey. She’s even started to applaud herself. Big headed git.
Those are my five top weaning hacks – perhaps unorthodox, but they get the job done! Have you done any of the above before? Have you taken to any strange methods to get your little one to eat?