There are many a stressful situation in life. Moving house, getting married, getting divorced, having kids… starting a new job…
…but I never imagined that deciding how and when to introduce anything other than breastmilk to my child would be up there on the list of things that could ultimately turn me grey before my time.
It’s chaos, this feeding a baby milarky — at least for the seasoned stresshead like me, it is.
I very quickly gave up on Google when it came to weaning because it’s all a bit much. Like a becoming a Mother for the first time, it’s information overload and scaremongering and, mostly, just opinion rather than fact, therefore I decided that I was going to do what feels right for us and take some cues from Ezra on this one.
One thing was for certain: I wasn’t about to enter into a Mum debate on what/when/how I fed my son.
Ezra was just over 5 and a half months old when he had his first taste of anything other than breastmilk. His first food was less than a teaspoon of mushy avocado, fed to him with bated breath and a crushing fear of him choking to death.
He loved it, and over the next few evenings I once again gave him little bits of avocado to taste (we eat a lot of avocado in this house at dinner time!). Ezra responded with a lot of mmm noises, opening his mouth, smacking his lips eagerly every time he caught sight of the little green happy fats and quickly began reaching for it even when it wasn’t offered. I figured, at this point, that he was ready to start his journey. I had a sturdy, well-coordinated, curious baby on my hands and I knew it was time.
As I said in the beginning of the post, all the charts and feeding guides were enough to give me a nose bleed, so I made some basic baby weaning decisions and decided that we would just take things slowly, without any pressure — dabble, if you will, after all food before one is meant just for fun (…an’ all that jazz)
Decision 1: I want to do a combination of traditional spoon feeding and also introduce Ezra to finger foods after he reaches the 6 month mark.
Decision 2: introduce savoury well before sweet to avoid him suddenly deciding that sweet flavours are life (because let’s be real, they are!) and therefore fuss over savoury — or worse — refuse savoury.
Decision 3: avoid juices, stick to water for as long as possible.
Those were my only baby weaning decisions, the rest was very much a go with the flow scenario.
After a few nights of trying a little bit of avocado on a tea spoon and realising that he probably wasn’t going to choke, I braved allowing him half teaspoons of mashed up sweet potato, which he loved more than the avocado and promptly began kicking off whenever I took it away from him.
In the first week, those two things were all he tried. I was too nervous and anxious about the whole thing to put a weaning plan in place. It was clear that Ezra was definately ready to experiment with textures and flavours though, so I went out and hit the supermarkets in search of bowls and spoons and all things baby food related. Genuinely, I was very excited about the whole thing and couldn’t believe I’d turned into the woman who grew giddy at the sight of a feeding bib and a pouch of pureed spag bol.
The first edible things I bought for Ezra were a selection of the adorable little Ella’s kitchen ‘first tastes’ pouches — lovely smooth consistency and great as an introduction to flavour combinations. Over the course of the next week, I gave him the equivalent of half a pouch a day, usually around lunch time. He loved tasting peas, parsnips and mango for the first time.
Ezra then turned 6 months old and I then introduced porridge (made with water or expressed breastmilk) after his first morning nap. As it turns out, porridge is one of his all time favourite things to eat at any hour of the day, his eyes light up when he sees a spoonful of that stuff coming towards him. He’s also tried broccoli, buttered toast and scrambled egg, all of which were given in small quantities directly onto his high chair table for him to pick up/play with/navigate to his mouth when we were eating the same. (Of course, my scrambled egg/toast/broccoli always went cold because I was too concerned with watching everything Ezra did with his samples and making sure he didn’t choke)
He went on to try tomato and basil melty puffs — great for grabbing on the go, bread dipped in soup, sausage, sultana pancakes, cucumber, tomato, cinnamon bagel and chopped banana. There has never been an order for us, as such, only that I would give him things to try around the times we would usually have breakfast, lunch or dinner.
We love Ella’s kitchen purees: combinations such as broccoli, pears and peas are a hit, as are carrots, apples and parsnips, cauliflower cheese and chickpea and sweet potato mash. In fact, there hasn’t been anything, puree or finger food that Ezra has outright rejected yet. He liked the chunky texture of the Ella’s kitchen limited edition jingle belly Christmas dinner over the course of Christmas Day and Boxing day and I particularly like that the pouches just contain all the good stuff. I am evidently not much of a Pinterest Mama who blends everything and stores it all up in ice trays and freezer bags. As he grows and his needs and tastes become more complex, I may well be that girl, but for now I’m enjoying doing things this way. I’m all about that easy life.
Very recently I’ve introduced him to the fruity pouches and the yogurts, but I am a bit stricter on how much of these he has and always treat them as though they are a small dessert — strawberry and apples, mango yoghurt, blueberry yoghurt — all eagerly received by my hungry little baby bear.
It’s so much fun watching him explore a new texture or taste for the first time. He pulls the most comical faces and will sometimes attempt to navigate the spoon into his own mouth . Whenever I give him finger foods, I (begrudgingly) leave it out on the table of his high chair for him to explore with his hands and usually sit back and watch him taking pure joy from making an absolute mess.
Things I’ve learned on his weaning journey so far:
- There is no harm in going with the flow. Not every instruction manual, flow chart and guide needs to be followed. I’m glad I read up on the basics of weaning and made my own adaptations.
- The fear of choking will probably never go away and sometimes the urge to snatch things like toast or fruit out of my baby’s grasp can be overwhelming. I need to watch videos on you tube about choking hazards and how to handle that situation if ever it occurs. Or better still, book onto a baby first aid course. Pronto. I now spend half of my day in a cold sweat thinking about how to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre.
- Gagging is normal.
- As is finding more food smushed into clothing/fingers/carpets and crevices than in mouth of said baby.
- I don’t do well with this level of mess but I am trying to just go with it.
- Ezra loves food. Like, seriously, he is not a fussy baby — that being said, I often repeat flavours for a few days to avoid overwhelming him with too many new tastes at once.
- Ezra sometimes forgets he likes something and so I have to reintroduce it to him.
- I would secretly eat Ella’s kitchen pouches as part of my own diet if the portions were bigger and Ezra wouldn’t judge me so harshly every time I feed him one spoonful and feed me two. They are DELISH.
- Since starting solids, he has slept for much longer stretches, though this could be coincidental.
- The Tommee Tippee ‘1st sippee’ cup is a con. I can barely figure it out and I’m 32 so god knows how a baby is meant to learn to drink water from it. (Still, I persist, at least until we try another cup!)
It’s been over a month since his first ever taste and his appetite and interest grows with each day. I continue to feed Ezra his milk first and foremost and I’ve found that weaning onto solids and now introducing formula has meant we have more of a feeding schedule which has happened entirely naturally.
Some days he is not interested in having much more than his milk, other days he clearly wants more solids. There are days when he will taste tiny bits and days where he will smack his lips and grumble for more of what he’s enjoyed. Some days my floor is covered in crumbs and wedges of vegetables, some days Ezra actually tastes the food we put in front of him. I don’t sweat it and as such, this has so far been really easy and enjoyable.
His habits, tastes and demands will change, this I know, but so far so good!