Whether you bring up your baby with military precision or are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-loungewear kind of parent, weaning can throw your lovingly constructed mum life into disarray. Suddenly you need to find room in your bulging change bag (if you could go anywhere) or kitchen drawers (that’s more like it) for piles of plastic cutlery, sippy cups and bibs, and figure out how to get tomato stains out of pastels (top tip: direct sunlight works a treat).
And then there’s the small matter of actually feeding them. There is SO much information out there and SO many people with opinions that it can be an overwhelming and anxiety-inducing time. So, with our friends at Babease – who make food for babies, not baby food – we thought we’d answer some of the weaning questions that crop up time and time again…
When should I start giving my baby solids?
This is one of the biggest sources of confusion, since the guidance has changed quite dramatically over the years, hence your Great Auntie Pam proffering a rusk while you were still rocking a maternity pad. These days, all those scientists who know about sciencey things have concluded that around six months is when most babies are ready for their first taste of food (and it should definitely not be introduced before four months, or 17 weeks), and the signs to look for are whether they can hold their head up and sit independently, whether they can feed themselves with their hands and whether they can actually swallow food or if they just mess about with their tongue. There’s loads more info about this over on the Babease blog.
What if they choke?
This is the biggie, the one that causes the most panic when navigating from Milk Avenue to Solid Street. The first thing you need to know is the crucial difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is a totally normal part of the weaning journey, as they transition to delicious lumps. Choking is much rarer, and the best way to avoid it is to keep the size of any chunks small, chop up foods like grapes and berries lengthways and always keep a close eye on them when they’re eating (or just in general. They are, after all, a baby). For extra reassurance, consider taking a paediatric first aid course so you’ll know what to do in an emergency. You can even do this online when IRL isn’t an option, although it’s much more fun if you get to play with crash test dummies.
What shall I feed them first?
Glad you asked, as this is Babease’s area of expertise. Vegetables are at the heart of everything they do, and they never hide fruit behind savoury titles like other baby foods. Why? Because babies are born with a natural preference for the sweet stuff (if you breastfeed and have ever got high off your own supply – come on, we’ve all tasted a little drop – you’ll know it’s pretty sweet, while formula is flavoured to mimic it), so introducing savoury tastes at the beginning of the weaning journey is very important to make sure they go on to eat a varied and nutritious diet (until they leave home and live off instant noodles anyway). You can start them on Babease smooth stage 1 organic pouches from six months, right through to bigger bits in stage 3 (around 10 months).
How will I know if my baby has allergies?
This is why it’s best to introduce one new food at a time, so you can keep an eye out for any dodgy reactions. If you have a family history of allergies and intolerances, you’ll want to be more cautious than most, but either way it’s best to start with the fairly innocuous stuff, like good old carrot, sweet potato and broccoli (although watch out for the ensuing windy pops with that one). They have their whole lives ahead of them to get stuck into more exotic stuff, after all, so don’t rush it. That cauliflower might look boring to you, but it’s a whole new world of excitement to them.
How many meals a day should they be having?
So, your mate Gemma’s little darling devoured a whole Sunday roast and you can barely get a taste of mushy swede past your baby’s deeply suspicious lips? Don’t panic! There are no rules about when your baby should be on three meals a day; it’s far more important for them to get used to a variety of flavours, and if that means they have peas for breakfast with a milk chaser then so be it. As with most things, some babies take to weaning faster than others. It feels stressful when you’re convinced your baby will never eat a proper meal, but they will get there. In the meantime, enjoy the relative simplicity and lack of mess of a largely milk-based diet. Milk is still the most important thing until they’re around a year old, so you have plenty of time to start slotting those mealtimes in around naps, walks and everything else; trust us, it will all figure itself out.
When can I feed them chocolate/chips/chocolate chips?
Bored of baby food? While nothing is strictly off limits (it’s a scientific fact that second and third-time mums introduce fishfingers and beans WAY sooner than first timers), it’s best to limit anything one might consider a treat until they’re a bit older. That doesn’t mean their diet needs to be boring though – Babease’s range of organic pouches includes delights as varied as Keralan Curry, Cottage Pie and Sweet Potato & Spinach Masala, and with no added salt, sugar or nasties, you can be confident that they’re getting a great and flavoursome start on their culinary journey. So, in short, they can nick a chip off your plate, but their first Big Mac can probably wait.
This week’s content is brought to you by…. Babease, who make delicious food for babies, not baby food. Babies have an amazing receptiveness to flavour and Babease believe it is important to make the most of this. All Babease pouches are veg-led, organic, packed full of flavour and they never hide fruit behind a savory title. You can get 25% off by going to their online shop and using the code Mush25 at checkout.