One of my favourite parts of motherhood is the time babies start food. It gets messy, yes, but boy is it fun! I loved watching their little faces when they try different types of food for the first time, particularly lemon- that’s a fun one. Although it turns out both my boys actually enjoyed the taste of lemon and even now will suck on one without pulling a face!
I started my Instagram way back when I was looking for inspiration for my first baby as he absolutely refused to be fed off a spoon. Before he arrived, I had decided to try a mix of baby led weaning (BLW) as well as puree foods (because that was what was done and how I was brought up!). However I had to completely change my thinking and investigate fully what baby led weaning was all about as he made up his mind not to follow my plan (as often is the way!).
The first time Big T tried baby rice... it didn't happen and in fact he skipped this altogether!
Now-a-days there is more of an understanding and acceptance of BLW but even 3.5 years ago, it was almost new. I remember having many discussions with my parents as I tried to convince them that it was ok that he played with his food and didn’t eat much at first. They were confused because how did you know he was getting enough? (answer is: he would stop when he actually had enough, babies are actually smarter than you think!) Also, the choking thing. Sometimes with BLW, babies seem to gag when trying certain foods and it looks like choking but as long as you are always keeping an eye on them, they can actually work out how to deal with it-- and this is actually an important step in their weaning development. HOWEVER, like I said, always be supervising them when they are eating!! Read up on the signs so you are ready- just in case.
So with first baby (now Big T), we took the plunge fully into baby led weaning, cue all the late night research on first foods, how to give them to him in a safe way, what does it mean if he gags on something - is it safe? (you can see a theme here, I was mostly worried about the safety aspect).
Big T trying out carrot for the first time (the carrot was softened by steaming and the size of a finger so he could hold it)
My friend recommended a book by Gil Rapley called The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook and it almost became my bible as I looked at different ways of expanding his taste palette with a focus on healthy nutritious foods. And it was fun. I mean, I had more time back then as it was only him. So when he would nap, I would spend my time trying out different recipes and making up some of my own. He was a massive fan of peppers and egg cups. So I would try out different variants of those. He would actually consume a whole ton of courgettes! He couldn’t get enough of them (no idea why, I can eat them but I'm not a massive fan myself!) Although funny enough he won't touch them now!
Baby 2 (Little T) was very different. I expected to let him BLW again and to a certain extent he would do that, but he would also let me feed him! So we also mixed up his diet with purees, homemade or from Ella's kitchen. They were very handy when we were out and about and he wanted some lunch. So he would have a pouch, and then maybe some food to handle as well. It always strikes me as funny that two brothers could be so different. Just a side note about Ella's Kitchen (it doesn't have to be this one but it's the one I used mostly) if you sign up to their website you can get sent a free weaning pack which contains some vouchers and lots of information or first foods!
Little T's first time eating out at a restaurant (he tried steamed tendersteamed broccoli)
Oh and then also, Little T had (not so much now) an egg allergy. We discovered it when I gave him scrambled egg for the first time, he didn't want to eat it. I noticed where he had put his arm in the egg, a small rash developed. So we went down the road of the allergy clinic and it turns out he does have one. But it's managed and now it seems he is growing out of it. At the time I was gutted because I invented the perfect egg cup recipe from Big T. But that was out of the question. We had to be really careful what foods to give to Little T to make sure they had no egg in. But it was something we soon got used to. The NHS website has alot of information about how to manage an egg allergy and information about the egg ladder that is advised. If you do think your baby has a reaction to any sort of food, it doesn't have to be egg, book an appointment with your GP and explain/ take photos and show them. They will refer you to the allergy clinic if they think it is an allergy. It did take a few months (!) before our allergy appointment, we completely avoided egg and egg products in the meantime. Thankfully there are alot of vegan recipes now-a-days and lots of other foods to explore. Now Little T seems to be coming out of the egg allergy. We have progressed up the ladder and often, with egg allergies, by the time they are school age it doesn't affect them anymore. It seems to be the way for little T.
Whilst doing BLW, my friend also suggested the Baby Led Weaning cook book app by Natalie Peall. She has since released other app recipe books such as Slow Cook Recipes, Fussy Toddler Recipes and Lunchbox recipes. These are simple to navigate and include some brilliant recipes to try. I do find it hard to think of different foods to try or different lunch to prepare, so I find these apps provide a variety of options. In the newer versions as well you can filter the recipes if, for example, you need recipes which are egg-free! Brilliant!
But there is nothing wrong with the puree method of weaning if that is what you prefer. I am a big advocate of doing what you feel is right for you and your own baby. These were my experiences with first foods, and I do think its useful to have all the facts. But at the end of the day, you know your baby best.
I have more information about everything to do with food and babies in the Food resources on the website. Including some really useful Instagram accounts to follow. Feeding Littles is a great account as it lays out simply using info-graphics what sorts of foods you could try and how. For example…
I would love to know what your experiences have been for you or if you are expecting, what you think about the idea of first foods! Does the prospect daunt you or are you excited by it?
If you have any questions for me about my experience with first foods, please don’t hesitate to message me on Instagram or send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). You could join the group on facebook. There are other parents who can help answer any questions you may also!
In other news...
The new gift box collection was launched last Friday with a series of videos of me talking through a couple of the new gift boxes and also explaining more about the reason for them. Check them out over on the Instagram page.
The website has had a refresh as well (hello many roses!) and there are two new features. You can now send a card directly AND you can create your very own gift box! This "create your own" feature is the part of the website my husband helped with as it required a much deeper understanding of website coding than my knowledge allowed!
So I hope you take a few moments to explore as I would love to know what you think!!
Wishing you all the best on your food adventure, and the week ahead!