My twins are nearly six months now and so it’s time to think about starting solids. With Thomas, a couple of years ago now, we started off on the traditional parent led route – purees and baby rice, selecting individual fruit and veg at first then combining, keeping a special watch out for intolerances and then introducing meat, fish and textures.
Then one month later he decided being spoon fed was not what he wanted. So baby led weaning it was! Cue self feeding, finger foods, enormous portions (his choice!) and a huge mess! But you know what, he absolutely loved it! Breakfast was weetabix and toast, lunch and tea was whatever we were having as long as the salt levels were minimal. Thankfully I love cooking so preparing no added salt meals was no trouble and also meant I didn’t have to cook twice. It also meant I could eat my own meal at the same time.
Finding low salt snacks and bread was actually pretty hard, so it was definitely easier to cook from scratch at home.
So, here are my top weaning tips from my own personal experience:
1) Expect mess! And a lot more mess. Babies love the feel of food in their fingers…and also what happens when they throw it on the floor! I remember taking Thomas out for lunch to a local pub with some tasty quinoa and apple bites – the mess we made was ridiculous but I did clean it up myself – I don’t expect the staff to clean that level of food destruction! Note to self-don’t take crumbly food out this time!
2) Keep a wipe clean or machine washable tablecloth on the floor beneath the high chair for easy clean ups
3) Avoid high chairs that have lots of absorbable material or whose covers cannot be machine washed – Ikea do a brilliant Antilop highchair that is easy to clean. I’m personally using Fisher Price Space Saving high chairs for the twins so they can be attached to the dining chairs. They also have high backs and are great for support at the six month period (the covers are wipe clean and machine washable too). I find some highchairs have really wide legs so having two in the kitchen as well as the table would be a bit tight!
4) Bibs with full arms are a godsend, especially if they are machine washable – stock up so you have enough for every mealtime. It will save you washing masses of clothes. Alternatively, remove top layers of clothing prior to eating
5) Putting a tea towel on their lap will also catch a lot of crumbs
6) Keep finger food big enough so they can’t swallow it whole and choke, but is easy to pick up and munch on – think chip or finger sized
7) Don’t worry about plates and bowls with finger food-most will end up in the highchair tray anyway and it’ll save your washing up pile
8) We used to squish harder berries such as blueberries under a finger and slice grapes lengthways so they were less of a choking hazard
9) Remember safety is paramount! Never leave your little one unattended whilst eating, they have a very efficient gag reflex but know your first aid and what to do if the worst should happen. I can recommend some great local Norfolk courses – let me know if you’d like details.
10) Don’t worry about the volume of food consumed – babies will still get the nutrients they need from milk, whether breast or bottle feeding. This stage is all about experimenting with textures and tastes and promoting a varied palate. Some will be ready sooner than others
11) Still offer the same number of milk feeds when starting out, they may not decrease for a while yet
12) Make sure you enjoy it too! It’s a fun time and will hopefully encourage you to keep an eye on your own diet and salt intake if your little people are eating the same meals as you
We’ll be trying each method again this time around – parent and baby led feeding – to hopefully find a way that works for all. Spoons are also great fun as I remember – especially the loaded ones! Babies are all different and will have varying preferences and I’m fully expecting this will happen with the twins too. Having a flexible approach to starting solids is best as the journey will probably change along the way!
What are your experiences of starting solids with your little ones and do you have any tips to add? I’d love to hear all about it to help with my own preparation!