A bush-tucker trial approach to weaning
Ant and Dec would be proud. My 7 month old daughter does an amazing impression of a contestant on I’m a celebrity get me outta here!
She opens her mouth, food goes in and then she promptly bangs the table while chewing (open, shut, open, shut) with her gums and two teeth. Sometimes she will also stamp her feet or kick her legs: Just like the celebs do when trying to munch on something minging. Then she’ll gulp down a bit of her water from her sippy cup (sometimes spit it back out water fountain style), and there we have it. Lunch time in my kitchen is just like a bush tucker trial! And be prepared, it takes ages! The only difference is that she says Mmmmnn when the food goes in (usually) and I certainly don’t feed her witchetty grubs. But believe me, it feels like a trial!
The challenges of weaning
When we started weaning Elsie I realised all of a sudden that the routine I had proudly got us into (which was just starting to feel manageable) was going to have to change. Again. Then it dawned on me: this is what happens. You just get the hang of one thing and then it all changes.
When moving to solids, you introduce one new meal at a time per week as a rough guide. Soon we had moved from five milk feeds a day to 4 milk feeds plus breakfast lunch and tea. 7 freaking feeds! Wasn’t it meant to get easier?
I started with puree. Making up a load of butternut squash, sweet potato and all these things they recommend. I just want to know why, oh why, are they all orange and impossible to wash out of clothes? In fairness I haven’t tried using stain remover on them, just non bio washing liquid and napisan, so maybe I need to up my game in the laundry. I soon realised Elsie was going to need more clothes to change into each day and long sleeved apron bibs as well as the catch-it all plastic one!
I dutifully started going through the baby recipe book I’d bought and made up a load of food and froze it. Then all I had to do was defrost something for Elsie’s meals. Simples. But that only lasted a few weeks. Elsie got poorly over Christmas, and for some reason (all the sick I imagine) she just went off her food never to be the same again. I think puking up mashed avocado and banana was both the end of that meal and the nursery carpet. And along with that went butternut squash, sweet potato and basically any meal I had pre-made pureed and frozen!
The only way I could properly get her to eat again was baby led weaning.
She enjoys picking up the food and feeding herself. But it is messy. You definitely just have to put up with the mess. Which can be hard. Sometimes she is good as gold and eats it all up, and other times shuts her mouth, grunts at me and refuses the food. Even if it’s one of her favourites I’ve cooked up specially. I never really know why. #Souldestroying
With the little time we have as Mums, I found myself cooking three or four times a day (including dinner for my husband and I) which was relentless. After a week or so of that, I was knackered. Then I made a plan. I’m only going to cook things we can all eat and that leave me leftovers to make meals out of the next day. Lowering my cooking percentage by 50%. #Winning.
You need to be pretty organised with your shopping but doing it online can save hassle. Just be sure to cook with no or very little salt so it’s ok for the baby. Instead, you can use a little lightly salted butter or cheese to help with the flavour while still being a food group. Cunning.
Today I serve a mix of finger food and stuff I’ve made either served on a spoon or in a pile on her high chair tray – ready for her little fingers to smush around. Elsie can often be found with a bit of mash in her eyelashes and broccoli under her chin. I get through more kitchen roll than hot dinners 😉
Here are a few of my top tips.
Very simple recipes are available on my recipe page
- Give yourself a break. Sometimes you won’t be that organised and need to cheat with some bought baby food. So what? It can’t hurt every now and again.
- Don’t spend a fortune on a fancy puree machine. A hand mixer can do the job and the puree stage doesn’t last very long.
- Fish pie is a winner: Now fish pie, is what it is. I don’t turn it in to anything else the next day however, you can all eat it and keep some for extra meals. But do make a little extra mash for the topping and keep that back as mash helps make a marvelous meal with little effort once it’s already made.
- The other must have amazing ingredient is frozen spinach. It is a life saver. Really good for you, always available, and ready in five minutes. It’s really good mixed in with left over mash to make a spinach and mash combo (Elsie loves it). She also likes my Popeye impression 😉 mwha ga ga ga ga. I’m clearly very funny.
- Always have eggs in. Because the advert is right, they are fast food and good for you! Make a really simple scrambled egg brekkie or mix in with spinach for a quick what one earth can I make in five minutes lunch.
- Jacket Potatoes are great. Stick ‘em in the oven for a couple of hours and forget about them. We can have it for lunch and Elsie has the potato scraped out of the jacket. It tastes nuttier than mash. It’s her favourite potato.
- Get some white bread in (brown is hard for babies to digest). Take a few slices out to keep in sealable / zip freezer bag in the bread bin, then freeze the loaf. Take out new ones as you need them. Saves chucking out the bread.
- Houmous. Just spread on some white bread as an open sandwich finger food when you’ve got no time.
- Roast chicken is the most versatile of all. Cook a big chicken once to make several meals. Even better if you add flavour to the roast chicken by stuffing it or cooking with herbs then that flavour shines through to the leftover dishes you make. Keep plenty of breast meat back and lots of the vegetables. Keep the broccoli, carrots and whatever other vege you’ve steamed because you can reuse it in other recipes or on its own.
So in addition to just serving another portion of reheated roast dinner there are loads of things you can make with the leftovers. You can find a couple of ideas on my recipe page
Get in touch
What’s your experience of baby weaning?