baby · food · parenting · top tips

My Top Weaning Tips So Far

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We started weaning Little Man at six months, so we’re now about seven weeks in and having two solid meals a day as standard (I’ll be honest, we could be doing three a day, I just can’t be bothered cleaning porridge off the walls that early in the morning). That means it’s time to share my top weaning tips so far, based on what I’ve learned!

We’re following a mix of traditional weaning (where the food is puréed or mushy at first, gradually increasing in chunky textures, and you feed baby with a spoon) and baby-led weaning (or BLW – where baby is presented with solid food options from the start and has to feed him or herself). This seems to be working just fine, despite some evangelists on the BLW side saying it’s all or nothing and you must never mix the two approaches for fear of confusing baby. Maybe some babies are more easily confused than others… Mine just seems to treat all food of all textures and presentations as an opportunity to coat himself in muck from head to toe.

In general, lunch is more of a purist’s BLW approach, where Little Man gets foods he can pick up himself and the time to have fun with them. Sometimes they even go into his mouth. Then at dinner, he sits in his high chair at the table with me and my husband, and there’s more of a concerted effort to get some food in his tummy.

Anyway, I’ve been reflecting on our weaning journey so far, and I thought I’d share some weaning tips that I wish I’d known when we started!

Don’t make assumptions about what they will or won’t like

Little Man has consistently surprised me with what he enjoys eating. The other day, I was eating some very strongly flavoured salt and vinegar crisps. Little Man was on my lap, and he was reaching for them. We don’t normally let him have any kind of junk food, but I let him have a crisp, on the basis that I thought the flavour would be way too strong and acidic for him and he wouldn’t like it. I even thought it might put him off asking for crisps in the future! Predictably, I was 100% wrong and he loved it… Oops.

Other foods that he has liked despite my expectations have included raspberries, broccoli mash (come on though, broccoli is grim… I practically made myself ill from the smell when I cooked it for him!), risotto, Japanese-style pork croquettes, and more. Now, I just let him try whatever and see what he thinks. Fingers crossed it works and we avoid having a fussy eater later on in life!

Help them get started off

I often offer Little Man one or two pieces of his finger food before leaving him to try to eat himself. Giving him a piece straight to his mouth at the start of the meal helps him get enthusiastic about feeding himself the rest. I then often give him one or two pieces to hold, as he often struggles to pick things up initially and it seems to help him get the hang of it for the rest of the meal.

Weaning is tough

Don’t start sweet (unless you mean to go on…)

The other day, I gave Little Man some raspberries to start him off while I made veggie omelette for his main. Oops. He loves veggie omelette, but after the raspberries he was in no way interested. Every time he put a piece in his mouth, he just made a sad face. Now we don’t do sweet things until the savoury is out the way first…

Let him have his own damn spoon

Little Man ALWAYS wants to hold the spoon. He struggles a lot with his teething and loves chomping on our wooden spoons. He’ll take a bite from a spoon, then if his teeth are bothering him, he’ll get very angry if you try to take the spoon back to give him a second bite. So now I have a back-up spoon on hand, and I just let him keep the spoon he wants. It’s much easier all around.

Brace yourself for those first weaning nappies

Little Man has always had trouble with his stomach, but as his tummy had improved by the time we came to start weaning, I have to say I wasn’t fully prepared for the violent and explosive nature of the poops he produced after starting weaning. We went through a couple of weeks where he was routinely experiencing such forceful poops that they completely escaped his nappy and went right up his back. He’s also been quite windy, but fortunately doesn’t seem to have tummy pain like he used to when he was smaller. Luckily for us (and our washing machine), Little Man’s digestive system does seem to have begun to acclimatise to solid foods, and poops are now normally being contained within the safety of his nappy. But I really wish someone had warned me about those first few weeks!

What are your top weaning tips? Share them in the comments!

baby · environment · food · parenting

Eco-friendly Weaning

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So now Little Man is six months old, he’s started trying solid foods! Or very mushy food, really. I’m not sure why we talk about weaning onto solids when the foods in question are actually basically liquid anyway. When we started planning for weaning, I realised just how much plastic can be involved in the process, and I decided to try to reduce the amount of plastic we were using and the amount of plastic waste we generate as well. So I’ve thought about how to do that as far as possible, and I thought I’d blog a bit about it so far… My tips for eco-friendly weaning!

Eco-friendly Weaning

Bamboo Tableware

Obviously ceramic crockery is a bad idea for tiny people who like to throw their bowls on the floor, but although I had plastic plates and bowls when I was little, I wanted to avoid this if possible. Instead, I’ve found some lovely sustainable bamboo tableware including plates, cups and spoons. There are some very cute designs from Sass & Belle and lots of other options if you search online.

The flip side of bamboo tableware is that it’s not dishwasher or microwave safe and not as durable as plastic. Currently I’m fine handwashing Little Man’s plate/bowl after his meals, but as he eats more and when I’m no longer on maternity leave I guess that may become more of a drag! So far though, I’ve really loved them. And Little Man seems to find the spoons easy to hold and nice to chomp on!

Some of our new plates and spoons

High Chair

Again when picking a high chair I really wanted a wooden chair rather than a plastic one. I was expecting wooden chairs to be much more expensive than their plastic equivalents, but actually there was a good range available at a similar price to the plastic chairs. I also think the wooden chairs look nicer! As Little Man hasn’t really spent much time in his new chair yet, I won’t recommend the brand we’ve chosen, but I might talk about it in a follow up post! It’s not completely 100% plastic free as there is plastic in the safety harness, but I think that’s probably difficult to avoid altogether and at least it’s a much lower plastic content than most high chairs.

Eco Friendly Baby Food

In general, our aim is to make our own baby food and avoid pre-packaged stuff as far as possible. So far that’s been fairly easy, I can quite quickly make up some simple mashed potato or other veg, and pop leftovers in the fridge or freezer. However, I know that when we travel or go out and about, it will be a bit more challenging, so I’m doing some research on eco-friendly pre-packaged baby foods. Any tips would be much appreciated! I’m also planning to buy some reusable baby food pouches so that it’s easier to take homemade food out and about.

Bibs and More

Obviously one of the big challenges with weaning is just the mess! At the moment, we’re using cloth bibs and just sticking them in the washing machine, but I do feel like this is using up a lot of water perhaps unnecessarily. The alternative is something like a silicone bib which can just be wiped clean and reused time and again. Which option works out as more eco-friendly? At the moment, I’m coming down on the side of using the cloth bibs.

Your Tips For Eco-Friendly Weaning:

How have you made the weaning process more eco-friendly? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing. Let me know in the comments!

More ideas for an eco-friendly home:

I also wanted to share some more great articles for eco friendly living that I’ve enjoyed recently. I like these ideas for bathroom eco swaps and this post on sustainable cleaning products has got me thinking about other ways we can reduce waste and increase our sustainability. As well as reducing waste, I try to support small businesses, so I also really enjoyed this guide to eco-friendly products available on Etsy, the online handmade marketplace – not somewhere I’d previously thought to look for sustainable products.

baby · child development · colic · food · parenting

Why We’re Trying Lactose Free Formula

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So as regular readers will know, Little Man has been having a lot of tummy trouble recently, and it’s just been getting worse. He’s really windy but struggles to get the wind out, and it’s been keeping him up at night and waking him up regularly when he does manage to sleep. He’s also had a bit of constipation, despite our efforts to keep him well hydrated. We’ve tried everything we can think of – changing his formula, using infant colic drops, making sure to burp him and wind him regularly, etc etc. But nothing seems to make much of a difference.

As a result, it’s been a tough few weeks, especially combined with his teething issues. Little Man has gone from sleeping through til about 3/4am and then having a slightly fitful sleep after that, to more or less having a fitful sleep through the whole night. Some nights I’ve been up with him much more often than every hour. So he’s been super grumpy, and to be honest, so have I!

So we went to the doctor’s and they recommended changing formula. As we’d already changed formula once, they suggested trying a lactose-free formula. Apparently if it does work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Little Man is lactose intolerant, but the change might be helpful for him. I guess a lactose free formula is about as big a change as you can have!

So we’re crossing our fingers a) that it works, and b) that he’s not actually got a lactose intolerance! Apparently some babies develop temporary lactose intolerance after tummy upsets or if they were born prematurely, and it can be something they grow out of. Little Man did have some issues with some kind of tummy bug which really upset his stomach a while ago, so it’s not impossible that this could have caused a temporary intolerance which just hasn’t settled yet. I’ll keep you updated on our progress and how he gets on with his lactose free formula!

baby · child development · colic · parenting

Why Are Babies’ Digestive Systems So Utterly Useless?

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I can’t be the only parent who has looked at their beloved baby, covered in vomit at 4am after waking up crying because of trapped wind, and wondered… Why are babies born with such completely useless digestive systems? Are we the only mammal this bad at eating and pooping? Do baby monkeys get colic? And when will my child finally be able to get through a day without continuously leaking milk curds from the sides of his mouth like a pint-sized Vesuvius?

Reflux and Spitting Up

In young babies, the lower oesophageal sphincter, which separates the stomach from the oesophagus, is weak and immature, and consequently does a terrible job of keeping the contents of baby’s stomach where they’re supposed to be.

Additionally, it can take a while before baby’s stomach gets into the swing of it’s normal squeezing pattern, meaning that milk may sit in the stomach longer than normal.

The good news is that reflux should subside in around four to twelve months!

Painful Wind

Babies are rubbish at eating properly, so they take in a lot of air when feeding. Then because they just lie around like lazy little beached porpoises all day, they can’t easily eliminate the gas via the normal route of burps and farts.

Tiny bubbles of gas then cause pressure and stomach pain. And that causes very grumpy babies. Here’s the irony: crying babies also often take in excess air. Which causes gassy pain. Which causes more crying. You see where I’m going with this. It’s kind of a vicious cycle.

In theory, this should improve around 3 – 4 months of age, or when the baby starts rolling on his own, as this helps to get the gas out.

Tummy Upsets

Humans are supposed to have a (delightfully named) “digestive mucosal lining” or layer of mucous, which protects their digestive tract from microbes and other contaminants in food. In babies, this layer is thin and does a bad job at protecting their gastrointestinal tract from infection.

Weaning

Current recommendations are to avoid weaning babies until they are about six months old. Why? I found it really interesting to read about this:

  • Babies can’t produce digestive enzymes to digest starches until they’re six months old.
  • They don’t produce enough enzymes to digest complex carbohydrates until nearly seven months.
  • Their bile and lipase for digesting fats don’t reach full levels until six months.
  • Until about six months, babies’ guts allow large molecules to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is to allow antibodies from mum’s breastmilk to pass into baby’s blood. But it also allows larger molecules from solid food through, which could create a risk of infection or allergy.

Little Man has had a bad tummy ever since we got him home from hospital. I think a lot of it is due to him taking in air when he eats, because when he was in intensive care and then on the ward with me, we fed him through a naso-gastric tube, and he didn’t vomit as much or have anything like as much trouble with his tummy. Can’t wait until it all settles down, but it doesnt seem like it will be happening any time soon…

baby · child development · colic · parenting · sleeping · teething

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child: Thank You

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We’ve been having a pretty bad time the last couple of weeks with Little Man. He has long had bad trouble with wind that wakes him up at night and upsets him regularly. But his teething has now got really bad as well.

We’re currently struggling to feed him at all, because any time the bottle goes near his mouth, he goes through the roof, even with having given him Calpol and teething gel – which obviously we can’t give every feed. Plus it’s waking him up every 40 – 60 minutes throughout the night, so we’re seriously missing out on sleep as well, and thanks to lockdown we don’t have access to any external or family support that we would normally have. So it’s tough. And it means stressing that I’m not doing a good enough job… The classic mum guilt.

One thing that is really positive though is all the help that we’ve had from friends and family who have shared some great tips and ideas for things that might help. Ideas from using a teething glove, to freezing ice cubes out of formula to rub on sore gums, to trying herbal teething powders or teas, and trying the next year size up, have all come from our friends, family and colleagues. Even if they don’t all work, at least we can feel like we’re being proactive in how we’re trying to deal with it and help the poor little dude.

It’s especially appreciated at this time. Normally, I would be going to baby groups and socialising with other mums and chatting about what they do or what products they use, but I can’t do that at the moment thanks to the lockdown. It can feel really isolating. So I really want to thank everyone who’s taken the time to share their experiences and their advice. Not only is it really useful, but it makes me feel better to know that other people have had the same issues. When you’re stuck in the house with a crying baby who won’t eat or sleep, it’s easy to get worried about what is it isn’t normal. It really brings to mind the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. We’re very lucky to have you all in our village.

So thank you, everyone. And thanks also to everyone who’s just checked in on us or let us have a rant or even sent a gift. These are weird and challenging times to have a new baby, as if having a baby wasn’t weird and challenging enough…