Tag Archives: weaning

How to prepare yourself for weaning.

I love the adventure of weaning. The excitement of seeing your baby try something for the first time. Their facial expressions when they taste. The determination they have in picking up a food. The mess they make as they feel the texture. Taking photos of them, it’s all rewarding and funny in my eyes. 

Dietitian UK: How to start weaning

However there can be a level of stress in it too. What do I feed them? How do I start them off? How do I minimise the mess? What do I do when out and about? Which foods are best to give them?

So here are my “mum of 3” tips of what you need to get started. 

What you need to start with:

Bibs: I like to have the ones that cover as much of their bodies as possible! Long sleeved as great. It saves a clothing change after eating. You need at least 5 if you can. 1 per meal and 1 in the wash plus 1 in the change bag. It saves hassle to have more bibs around. Although a muslin folded into a triangle can be tied around your little ones neck as a make shift bib. Be warned the food stains may not come out! 

A high chair with a table: I’ve started 2 of mine off in a Bumbo with the tray attached. I like it as they have sat on the table and there is less chance of throwing food onto the floor. However it didn’t work for my boy as he wasn’t safe in the Bumbo. 

Dietitian UK: How to prepare for weaning 2

I don’t think that is any need for an expensive high chair. The Ikea Antilop white one is our fav. Wipe clean with hardly any nooks or crannies for food to get stuck in it is also portable in the car as the legs come off. This highchair fits out table well, however I like it away from the table for the start of weaning so I can prevent baby throwing food in my dinner! It is also found in lots of cafe’s so when you eat out baby feels like it’s a home from home.

A mat: having a plastic sheet, shower curtain or washable mat under the highchair saves a whole heap of clearing up. You can then pick it up, shake the bits of food off outside and put the mat in the washing machine when wanted. I have this one which I take to people’s houses as well (saves apologising constantly about their cream carpets!).

Plastic Spoons: These can be picked up cheaply from any supermarket. These are specifically designed for fit a babies mouth and are shallower than other teaspoons. Metal spoons are not suitable as if baby bites on them or pushes them further into the back of their mouths they could harm themselves. 

Plastic Bowls: Again easily picked up in a supermarket or online. Safe in a dishwasher, microwave and unbreakable as they will get dropped on the floor.  Having some with lids is useful for storing and transporting foods.

weaning-bits

Cups: If you can use an open beaker then that is the best way to encourage baby to drink. It is messy however as they can pour it everywhere! I like to use a combination of different cups. My favourite open cup is the baby cup as it is so small it is easy to hold and there is not much liquid to be thrown around!  Safe, easy to clean and approved by dentists. I also like doidy cups.

 Wipes: We use washable wipes, they just get thrown in with the normal washing. I have a tub that sits on my table with damp wipes in it. Everyone ends up using them for messy hands and faces. I’ve found cheeky wipes really good as they trap all the bits and wash well. 

Patience: baby may not be that interested and eat that much initially, which can be stressful. It is almost best to ignore them and let them get on with it, whilst keeping a quiet eye out for safety. Let them play, let them eat with the family, let them make mess, let them try and feed themselves. 

A plan: Not necessarily a spreadsheet of foods to try out, but some vague plan of what you are cooking and how you can therefore adapt it for baby. I often find it easiest to save leftover from the day before and give that to baby for lunch the following day. You don’t need to cook different meals for baby, but it can also be useful to have bits of food saved up to offer them or spare meals in the freezer.

Good books: If you want to do some reading up then the Baby led weaning book and cookbook by Gill Rapley are good and for some great evidence based information try ”Easy Weaning” by Sara Patience.

Foods to have ready: As babies are used to sweetness in milk I find it good to start with a mixture of a few sweeter foods such as fruit but also plenty of vegetables and starchy foods. 

Examples:

Breakfast : 

Porridge fingers (porridge cooked and left to go hard! I often some to last several days. It is sticky but easy for little fingers to pick up.

Toast fingers with butter, scrambled egg or hummus.

Eggy bread with vegetable sticks.

Weetabix with mashed banana.

Lunch:

Pitta bread in fingers with cream cheese and avocado.

Large Pasta shapes with roasted carrot and courgette strips.

Savoury muffins with cheese and cucumber.

Pancakes with steamed green beans, mushrooms and trips of chicken.

Tea

Risotto with a no/low salt stock

Roast dinner with no gravy

Potato wedges with broccoli florets steamed, sweetcorn and fingers of fish.

 

If you want to stock up online here is a little list of my recommendations:

 

Help, my child won’t eat his veggies!

We are firmly in a fussy eating stage, frustrating is the word. I currently have Miss K who will eat pretty much any fruit or vegetable and the J boy is decidedly anti-vegetables. I’ve tried explaining the evidence behind why vegetables are so good for you, talking him through the nutritional benefits (I know, he is only 22 months right now but they understand more than we think, right?)… but he still insists on not eating that veg. His current trick is to pick up a carrot, tell me rabbits eat them and pop it on my plate. Hilarious.

Dietitian UK: Help my child won't eat vegetables!

To be fair we have been through very bad chicken pox, an infection and now teething, so I fully well know why he is being fussy. However it still grates with me.

So I’ve been coming up with all kinds of inventive ways to get those veggies in. I’ve found that actually he likes the taste but is less keen on them in their whole form.  Grated is fine, added to muffins and flapjacks is fine, chopped up small on pinwheels works, blended in a sauce is all ok, but not in chunks on the plate. However I have persistently kept on offering them at each meal, hoping it will pay off. We have a few fail safe options including raw mushrooms, baked beans and spinach, kale or chard. 

Then today at lunchtime, a complete surprise. The J boy asked for avocado, not unusual as his sister was having some and he hates to be left out. I reluctantly gave him some expecting to get it put back on my plate in a squished, licked form… but he ate it and asked for more. 

© Alexstar | Dreamstime.com - Avocado Photo
© Alexstar | Dreamstime.com – Avocado Photo

So I’m just sharing for those of you in that frustrated place. It will pass. Fussy eating does not last for ever. 

All we can do as parents is to keep on offering healthy food, be good role models, stay calm and let them choose with no pressure.

The trials of toddler eating.

I’ve now weaned 2 munchkins and both of them have been through fussy stages. One of them is still there. That initial weaning part is something I find fun. Messy but fun. I love watching small people try new foods, learn about textures and experiment with what foods does. Both of my children have eaten practically anything at this point. Miss K wouldn’t eat Wasabi (cruel mum alert – it was in hummus, I didn’t think it through, but to be fair she did eat chilli), the J-boy doesn’t like leeks and neither of them have liked lettuce. 

Toddlerhood is another matter. Suddenly around 15-18 months your “fairly happy to eat what I’m given” person turns into a “I’m going to refuse things that look healthy and that you know I normally eat” person. I’ve now weaned 2 munchkins and both of them have definitely had their fussy stages. It is so, so easy to take these stages as a personal affront to your cooking. To get frustrated and downright annnoyed when they tip a delicious plate of homecooked lasagne onto the floor without even trying it. I’ve been there. I’m still working through it. There isn’t always a rhyme or reason to it – That same lasagne was eaten quite happily the next day. Sometimes there is a very valid reason for their fussiness and sometimes it makes no sense at all. Here are some reasons your little one may be in a fussy stage.

Dietitian UK fussy eating in toddlers

Why I am being fussy mummy:

1. My teeth hurt. Teething has always had an effect on my munchkins eating. It makes perfect sense. If your mouth is hurting why would you want to eat certain foods? Miss K would eat anything in a puree form. The J boy refuses to eat vegetables and just wants softer, suckable foods like rice cakes, cheese, yoghurt. It’s at times like these that I have to get inventive.

2. I’m not feeling well. They can’t always tell us what is going on can they. I’ve found in the past that after getting slightly frustrated that small child has not eaten well at dinner, they suddenly keep me up most of the night with a temperature. 

3. It’s just a stage. Some children can alter they way they eat in response to a developmental leap or it could be they are trying to express themselves  or test out a boundary. I know when I am stressed or anxious it can affect my appetite. When your child is learning a new skill or going through a growth spurt it may affect their eating in the same way. Perhaps they want more of your attention and know not eating is a way to get it? Maybe they just want to see what happens if they refuse to eat things? It will all pass. 

4. They are learning something. In developmental leap periods children can become fussier with their food. If you brain is on slightly overload at one end it can lead to other areas being affected. There is a wonderful app called The Wonder Weeks that takes you through these stages and explains what can happen when your child is in a “leap”. 

5. They just want to see how you react. What will mummy/daddy do if I don’t eat something? Do I get a reaction? Being consistent and calm is so the key here. “Keep Calm and Carry On”. 

Top Tips:

Don’t show them that it gets to you! Trust me I get frustrated but I  remind myself that there will be a reason for the fussiness and use my “mummy poker face”.

Keep on offering a range of foods. Don’t assume because they didn’t eat it the other day that they have a dislike for that food. One day they will eat it, one day they may not.

There is no need to cook a different meal. If your little one is choosing not to eat then that is ok. My toddler boy seems to hardly eat anything for lunch. A nibble of a cracker and a spoon of hummus can be his lot. They all make up for it somewhere. 

Extra veggies can be added into snacks and meals by grating. I often grate in courgettes and carrots or stir in frozem spinach to muffins, cheese biscuits or main meals to boost the nutrition in them. Offer vegetables in different forms at different times. My small boy will eat a mountain of raw mushrooms when I am cooking dinner for example.

Relax. All children go through fussy stages. In the main these are just stages. They will pass. Keep on offering nutritious meals, plenty of variety and ride it out. 

Finally if you are at all worried then chat to mummy friends, they usually have the best advice and do get in touch if you need some extra support. 

 

How to really have a more contented baby ;)

This being our second baby I’ve been a teeny, tiny bit wiser to a few things… and a bit slacker on other things! I’ve thrown out all the normal baby books for one and let baby lead the way, so much easier, he naturally showed me his routine. I also bypassed the puree route and went straight for baby led weaning – which I would highly recommend, much less stress and cooking.

Something I noticed with Miss K is how frustrated she would get when trying to communicate. Around a year I started using some basic signs with her and it made a big difference. So with J-boy I’ve put signing in from the instant we started weaning (5.5 months). It is lovely to see him now happily signing away. He does also use words with some of the signs too, however More, Milk and Moo are all very similar sounding so the signs are of big advantage. 

At age 2 toddles apparently recognise around 200 words but can only say about 50. I would be frustrated if I wanted something and couldn’t communicate it. Many times the reasons tantrums occur is due to frustration, so using signing can help with alleviating this.

Now I’m no signing expert, but hubby knows a fair bit of Makaton, so I’ve stolen signs from him and from groups I’ve been to. We use…

Eat

Drink

More

Finished

Please and Thankyou

Book

Milk

I like this free chart of signs: 

 baby-sign-language-chart

 

 

So at 15 months J-boy was using eat and drink and at 16 months he was using more and toothbrush. He doesn’t sign milk but says it. Now I plan to build in “nappy” and “sleep”. If he is potty trained and sleeping by 2 I’ll be a lucky mummy, ha ha!

It’s ok to play with your food

I was brought up to eat with my knife and fork, not to sing at the table, to keep my elbows well away and to definitely not play with my food.

My how things have changed! I’ve followed baby led weaning with my littlies so both have learnt to eat with their fingers…. Miss K (almost 4) still prefers fingers over cutlery and I can’t always argue as I eat some meals with my fingers too, for example rice and curry… It’s the only way.

I now often find myself slipping into song at the table. Part of that is having kids and part of that is just me… I sing a lot around the house.

Playing with food is part of what I do as a dietitian. I like my kids to feel the texture of foods and to get involved in cooking and preparing foods. So we keep mealtimes fun. It can be messy but the result is they eat almost anything and love learning about food.

So here are my little foodies in action.

Who wants manners when you have cuteness?

P.S – Very bad sound I know…. I NEED a new phone 😉

5 reasons why I prefer baby led weaning

Weaning. As soon as you have conquered bottle/breast feeding and are vaguely in the swing of things it comes to time for food. I love the fun of weaning. Letting babies explore tastes and textures with their hands and mouths. My first baby had to be weaned at 17 weeks so was on purée but quickly decided to only want to feed herself. My second we waited until he literally pulled food off my plate into his mouth at almost 6 months. We’ve been letting him feed himself unless he is too tired or not feeling well in which case he asks to be fed.

Dietitian UK Baby led Weaning 1

Lots of people seem worried about the idea of baby led weaning. Personally I’ve found it easier than the purée route and here is why:

1. There is no real preparation or precooking needed. As long as you eat healthily, baby can just eat what you eat. So roast dinners, fish with steamed vegetables, pasta dishes, sandwiches are all fab.

Dietitian UK: Salmon Foil Parcels with Potato Wedges.

2. Eating out is easy peasy. Baby can just eat of your plate. Mine loves jacket potatoes, risotto, picking at a salad or sharing my toddlers meal.

Baby led Weaning - 8 months

3. It doubles up as messy play. Feeling all those textures is a great learning experience. Let baby explore and practice picking up different sized pieces of food.

weaning 3

4. I don’t have to plan a separate menu. In our family we all eat the same meal. One meal fits all.

Dietitian UK: Salmon and Spring Vegetable Risotto: toddler portion.

5. It helps baby feel independent. My baby loves feeding himself. On the odd occasion I have tried to feed him to speed things up as we were running late he has shut his mouth firmly. “No mummy I am doing this myself”. That told me.

Weaning 2

Have you tried baby led weaning? How do you find it. Look out for my top tips on weaning and my meal ideas which I will be posting soon.

Baby Led Weaning at 8 months.

It’s been just over 2 months since the baby  started on food, he has completely taken to it. I’m taking quite a relaxed approach to weaning him, just offering him 3 meals and a snack if he asks for one or grabs a bit of mine.

So far I don’t think we’ve come across anything that he has refused to eat. Some days I find he isn’t that bothered with his evening meal and will just wait for yoghurt, but other days he eats loads. There doesn’t always seem to be much rhyme or reason to it, I find the key is to just go with it and not worry as right now he is just learning and getting his main nutrition from milk.

Baby led Weaning - 8 months

I offer fruit/vegetables, carbohydrate, protein and dairy foods at each lunch and dinner. This is usually a variation on what the rest of the family are eating. 

Dietitian UK: Baby Eats Salmon and Spring Vegetable Risotto

Breakfasts:

ReadyBrek mixed with some porridge oats and fruit – mashed banana, cooked apple, banana or pear.
Weetabix with milk and fruit

Lunches:

Lentil and Vegetable soup with bread, pear slices and cheese.
Cheese on toast with avocado, tomato, banana chunks and sweetcorn hoops.
Mackerel pate with rice cakes, cucumber sticks, steamed pepper strips and yoghurt.
Soft cheese with breadsticks, roasted courgette and carrot chunks (leftover from dinner) and peeled grapes.

Dinners:

Pasta Bologanise
Salmon and vegetable risotto
Roast chicken with roasted vegetables and potatoes
Mushroom Stroganoff
 

Top Tips:

1. Offer a variety of foods across the week.
2. Don’t force a baby to eat, if they aren’t interested then that is fine, try again another time.
3. Try not to get anxious or frustrated around mealtimes. It’s all a learning experience.
4. Keep it fun, we have toys ready for before and after food to keep baby amused.
5. Chat to baby over mealtimes and interact.

Baby led Weaning, let the adventure begin.

Call me weird but I love weaning. I know it’s super messy and requires a bit of time and energy but it’s so much fun! I love watching babies eat things for the first time, watching them learn and get better at feeding themselves, seeing their joy in it all and laughing a the mess they get themselves into. For me it’s a time of hilarity and inventiveness.

My baby boy has recently turned 6 months and started on solids. Being 6 months he can pretty much eat anything so I’ve started him straight on our family meals. His first few forays were steamed vegetables and fruit but after a few days he moved onto trying whatever we were eating. I’ve always cooked with no salt since we had our first baby so most meals are already suitable.

Dietitian Uk: Baby Led Weaning

Some examples of our meals at 6 months:

Breakfasts:
These are usually the same as it’s a rush in the mornings in our house. Readybrek with some fruit mashed in (banana, blueberries or stewed apple from my freezer stash).  Baby J feeds himself if I load up the spoon and give it to him.
 
Lunches:
Rice cakes with hummus and steamed carrots
Toast fingers with scrambled egg and cucumber
Pancakes with cream cheese and tomato
Ham sandwich with steamed pepper strips
 
Dinners:
Sweet potato wedges steamed with roasted peppers and courgettes (we had a sweet potato chilli).
Leek and mushroom risotto – he loves this.
Pasta in a tomato sauce with vegetables (I keep some vegetables in larger chunks for him).
Roast chicken with vegetables and roast potatoes
Homemade vegetable patties

 

Aubergine Dhal, the slow cooker way.

Lots of people are working on reducing their meat consumption at present, it sounds easy but if you are doing it you need to replace that meat protein with some other protein sources. Some examples would be soya, tofu, all forms of bean from kidney to cannellini to black beans, eggs, cheese, quinoa and pulses including lentils.

Having Sri-Lankan blood I absolutely LOVE lentils. So here is one of my favourite ways to cook them – DHAL.

Dhal is legendary in my family. We’ve all grown up on it and a meal of curry and rice is not complete without it. It’s incredibly versatile, can be made with all types of lentils and pulses and you can add most veggies to it too. Also a great dish for weaning 🙂

I also have a love of aubergine (or eggplant), so here is my recipe combining the two, slow cooked for true laziness.

Dietitian UK: Aubergine and lentil Dhal
Dietitian UK: Aubergine and lentil Dhal
Aubergine Dhal
Serves 4
An easy dhal recipe using the amazing aubergine, low GI, high in protein and super healthy.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
62 calories
14 g
0 g
1 g
3 g
0 g
209 g
16 g
5 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
209g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 62
Calories from Fat 5
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 16mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 14g
5%
Dietary Fiber 6g
25%
Sugars 5g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
40%
Calcium
3%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 mugs lentils
  2. 1 aubergine
  3. 3 cloves garlic
  4. 1 onion
  5. 1.5cm fresh ginger, grated
  6. 150g cauliflower chopped up finely
  7. 1tsp each of mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and cumin
Instructions
  1. Saute the onion in pan or crockpot with spices, then add ginger and garlic, plus all other ingredients. Stir well, add water so it's covered by about 1/2 inch and leave to cook on high for 5 hours. Check the fluid level and towards the end of cooking add 100ml milk. I cooked mine for most of the day, it smelt divine.
beta
calories
62
fat
1g
protein
3g
carbs
14g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

 

Baby Food: Why it’s better to make your own.

A Glasgow team have tested 479 shop bought baby foods and found that most of them had fewer nutrients than homemade versions. They also found that the majority of the foods (65%) were sweet in taste, sweetened with fruit sugar rather than sugar itself. Finger foods expecially were found to be sweet.

baby-food-jars-15118476

A quote from the researchers “UK infant mainly supplies sweet, soft, spoonable foods targeted from age 4 months”

Babies have an innate preference for sweet foods and breast milk itself has a sweet taste to it, however when it comes to weaning we want to be encouraging our small ones to extend their palate. Offering a range of tastes, textures and flavours will do this, by sticking to sweeter tastes babies will be more likely to want sweet foods later in life which could lead to less healthy choices.

The nutritional composition of the baby foods was looked at and the researchers found that babies would  need to eat twice as much shop bought foods to get the same energy and protein as a homecooked meal. This makes it pretty hard work for a baby to meet their nutritional needs.

So is there a role for shop bought baby foods and should manufacturers be changing their meals?

I would say there still is a role for these foods. We all need a balance of foods in our diets and being a mum I know full well that there are occasions when a pouch or jar of baby food can be so much easier. Try to stick to homemade meals as often as you can and keep the bought versions for those emergency occasions. I’ve certainly used bought baby meals when abroad on holiday for example and when out and about with no other options. 

My top tip would be to aim for 80% of the diet to be homemade, be realistic about your time, plan meals, cook in bulk and freeze and don’t beat yourself up if you resort to shop bought food now and again.

Why not check out some of my weaning recipes or check out my Baby Weaning Ebooks. 

Read the abstract of the study here.