Hello! It’s little N here. Mama said people have been interested in my baby-led weaning journey so I’m going to tell you a little bit about it!
A few days before I reached 6 months old, I grabbed a pizza crust off Mama’s plate and chewed it and sucked it and even swallowed a little bit. Mama said it looked like I was ready to start weaning, which in the UK means to start having complementary food as well as milk. I got to have my yummy milk feeds as normal, but in between I would also get to eat some of whatever Mama was eating. Sometimes she cut the food into strips to make it easier for me to hold but most of the time I just got stuck in. Mama doesn’t feed me, I do it all by myself. This is called baby-led weaning.
Some of my friends from playgroup had pureed or mushed up food and then tried “finger food” a bit later, and some of them had a mix of purees AND finger foods; this is called traditional weaning, or parent-led weaning.
Mama was really nervous about me starting solid food, so she did a workshop about CPR and Choking at our local SureStart centre. She also read a book called Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley, who pioneered this method of weaning. It made her feel much more relaxed about letting me eat solid food. When I first started to have food sometimes I would bite off quite a big chunk and it would tickle my throat and make me gag, but I just spat it out and tried again. Mama has some pictures stuck on the fridge telling her what to do if I were to choke, but she has never needed to use it! Learning to eat food this way means I have learned how to chew before learning how to swallow and I have been in control of how quickly and how much I eat.
After I started having food at first I didn't eat much and just wanted milk when I was hungry but when I got to about 9 months old I realised that food filled my tummy too so I soon started to have less milk and more food. I’m now 14 months old and rarely want milk during the day. I drink a lot of water though; Mama gave me a sippy cup at first and now I have a big sporty cup that I drink from.
I have eaten all sorts of food; from pasta to Sunday roast to risotto to Shepherd's pie, I’ve even eaten soup! Mama pours it over chunks of bread for me, yum yum! The only things I couldn’t have were whole nuts and honey, and things with too much salt.
For breakfast I like things like toast, Weetabix and multigrain hoops; when I finish my breakfast I like to have a few spoons of Mama’s porridge too. For lunch I usually have a sandwich and some cucumber and some cheese. If Mama and I are in town we’ll stop at Starbucks and share a panini. I absolutely love pasta with green pesto, our lovely Health Visitor suggested it and I’m so glad she did as it’s my favourite. For dinner we have all sorts of things, I’ve tried so many different meals. Rice is a lot of fun so is anything with beans. Chicken is my new favourite food, I love when Mama makes a roast dinner. Mmm.
For my snacks I like to have wedges of fruit like apples and pears, I used to have banana strips with the skin left on to make it easy for me to hold but I’ve gone off them recently. I like oatcakes as well, Mama started buying them for me to stop me from eating her books. She said they taste just like cardboard. I also really like the baby and toddler snacks by brands like Organix and Kiddylicious. Mama always puts things like Organix Cheese & Herb Puffs, Organix Squeezy Tubes and Kiddylicious Fruit Wriggles in her bag when we go out, just in case I get peckish. Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, Mama lets me have a little bit of chocolate. She’s a bit strict though, Daddy is much more forthcoming with the chocolate.
Daddy was a bit worried that I wouldn’t learn how to use cutlery if I wasn’t spoon-fed but the health visitor said it doesn’t matter, as long as I can feed myself I can learn to use cutlery later. Mama always lets me have a spoon and fork when I’m eating so I’ve been trying to copy her. I can now use a spoon perfectly and I can also use a fork properly but only when I feel like it. I like to jab my food with my fork and then use my other hand to take it off the fork and put it in my mouth. I don’t know why Mama finds this so funny.
Some people have said that baby-led weaning is messy, but I don’t make too much mess. When I was younger Mama tucked a muslin cloth into my t-shirt but she doesn’t anymore. She just wipes my hands and face when I’m finished. I did go through a phase of throwing my plate on the floor when I’d had enough to eat but now I know how to sign “all gone” so I do that instead. My highchair, the Joie Mimzy, is really easy to clean. It’s fully adjustable and has two different sized removable trays. It’s also very comfy, I have fallen asleep in it quite a few times!