Discussion | Weaning

Over the coming weeks we will be concentrating and taking time to describe, disect and explain the huge topic of weaning. One that, to a new parent, has the potential to feel quite overwelming and perhaps scary. With so much information out there it is another minefield for parents to navigate that we wanted to take the time to explain  simply and steadily. We have touched on several aspects of weaning in previous blog posts which, where necessary, we will refer back to. Between the three of us we have now lost count how many babies we’ve weaned but what we do know is that it is one of our favourite stages of our jobs which we want to share with you.

Today we will look at what weaning is, types of weaning and equipment list. After that, our blog posts will look at the stages of weaning in more detail, with recipe suggestions, relevant and easily digestable information and favourite tried and tested resources along the way.

What is weaning?

Weaning is the stage in which a baby reaches when he needs to be introduced to solid foods after only being on a diet of milk, either formula or breast milk. This time will come when only having milk is not sustaining the nutrients needed to support a growing child. This stage occurs at around 6 months – some babies will need to be weaned earlier than this, but not before 4 months and some can easily wait until 6 months.

Types of weaning?

How are you going to wean your baby? There are two types of weaning; when we trained as nannies we learnt about the ‘traditional’ bowl, spoon, puree method but throughout our nannying careers, ‘baby led weaning’ has become a popular requirement from many families we have helped out and worked for. However, I think it’s safe to say our natural way to wean a baby these days is a combination of both methods…just to mix it all up a bit! Let’s look at them all.

Tradtional – this method requires you to prepare a range of smooth vegetable and fruit purees to begin with in, we would highly recommend, ice cube trays for you to introduce one flavour at a time every couple of days to baby. Using soft weaning spoons you can continue to bond with your child by feeding them these new flavours and keep track of how much they’ve eaten. Keeping to one favour for a couple of days benefits both of you – gives baby a chance to get used to each new flavour and also helps you determine any allergies occuring by being able to identify the culprit straight away. Over time, you can join two and then three flavours together making up little meals (another great reason for using ice cube trays) and then gradually altering the texture of the purees too by making them more lumpy as baby gets older.

Baby led weaning – this method gives you the opportunity to follow baby’s likes and dislikes from the go and promotes baby feeding itself from the get go. The adult prepares a range of food in large chunks or sticks for baby and let’s baby do the rest; explore, play and try the foods as they want. Of course to begin with the food will be cooked to a softer consistancy and less so as time goes on a teeth appear. We have to admit, this method we find the messiest as it is also a lesson for baby in hand eye coordination and to begin with that can be a challenge, not to mention the mushing of foods that goes on in baby’s hands! This method is probably less easy to keep track of how much baby has had after exploring their foods and stashing many things down the back of their highchairs!

Combination – as said previously, this is probably the way we lean towards weaning babies if there isn’t a strict direction from parents. We are really keen on encouraging children to feed themselves and have sociable meal times. We often make up a stash of purees in the freezer and bring out a combination at each meal time as well as two spoons, one for you and one for baby to play and learn to use, and a small selection of finger food. Or one meal can be spoon fed the other more finger food focused. As nannies, if you work for parents who are vigilent about wanting to know how much a baby has eaten this method gives good balance of being able to relay that information, as well as encouraging independant eaters.

Equipment – already in the first six months babies will have accumulated a huge amount of equipment, so here is a little more to add to your list! However, we really don’t think it needs to be extensive, expensive, or falling into the trap of more baby, in this case weaning, gimmicks, such as branded storage pots or small blenders that heat and steam food too. Here is our essential equipment list:

  • weaning spoons
  • ramakins
  • storage bags
  • ice cube trays
  • small saucepan
  • bibs
  • pack of wipes/muslin/warm flannel
  • highchair
  • hand held blender
  • 2/3 recipe books

We hope this has given you enough to think about to begin with and we look forward to you joining the rest of our weaning series over the coming weeks.

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