Over the past month or so, Maddison's interest in our food has become un-be-lievable! We cannot sit down at the dinner table without her glaring at our every mouthful with big inquisitive puppy dog eyes, and sticking her tongue out at us - as if she's trying to join in! (It's actually pretty darn cute!) Maddison is now 21 weeks old (5 months on Friday). I had always planned that I would breastfeed till 6 months and would then start weaning her. However as we all know, planning and babies don't exactly go hand-in-hand!! For a start the breastfeeding for me unfortunately didn't work, (read my breastfeeding journey here.) so Maddison has been a 100% formula fed baby for roughly the past 6 weeks now. Secondly, I know that all the standard weaning courses and NHS say it's best to wait till 6 months till you wean baby due to gut development. But now I know my little girl, and for various reasons have had it suggested to me we start, I've been deliberating the idea more and more...
I've discovered that Maddison is doing every milestone ahead of her time, she's seems to be developing unbelievably fast and doing things wayyyy before the "average" age that babies would normally do. For a start she's pretty much had amazing neck control from the day she was born, looking up and around. She first rolled over at 10 weeks old and then nailed it by 13 weeks. Was reaching, hitting and grabbing things since 8 weeks old. Has now been sitting up on her own for the past 4 weeks. The list goes on! Every time she's achieved a new milestone, rather than jumping for joy I was like, "nooo this can't be right?! How the bloody hell did you do that already?!" so any reading of the baby books I did do, has basically gone out the window and I've given up on haha!!
She is already giving me all the "signs" I've read or heard about, that apparently mean she's ready to start weaning (and has been doing so for the past 3 weeks at least!). She can sit up in her highchair on her own (so fine to swallow). Is ALWAYS interested in and watches us eat our food. While we eat she sits there licking her lips, sticking her tongue out and doing what looks like chewing air! It is hilarious! Anything and everything she grabs goes straight into her mouth, so she has mastered that hand-eye coordination that babies need to start weaning. We have never had a problem with her bowel movement, which I guess is a good indicator her digestive system and gut is working well? (not that I'm a pro!) And I'm not thinking I need to wean because she seems extremely hungry! Just more a case of her curiosity. So due to all these signs she's been giving me... it has been making me more and more tempted to start weaning Maddison fairly soon.
I guess when it comes to it, my plan is to literally start with the basics initially, I'm not going to go all Jamie Oliver on my baby and creating loads of extravagant and overly complicated meals! I'm talking trying a tiny bit of Baby Rice, which I'll make with her formula to see how she copes with the chewing and swallowing. Then if that seems okay, move on to the good stuff like a bit of blended/mashed up veggies or fruit. I'm certain as well she would LOVE to get her hands (and gums) on some cooling cumber sticks to help her teething - hehe! So really basic to start, then take it from there! I was very lucky to go to an event a few months ago to celebrate the launch of a new baby food brand My Little Piccolo, where we had a weaning workshop lead by one of their wonderful nutritionists and recipe creators Alice. So I feel totally swatted up in what to give Maddison from all her tips and knowledge and what to do when she's learning to chew/swallow and overcome chocking etc.!
One of the best things I think I learnt on the weaning workshop, was not to be scared of flavour! When it comes to seasoning.. go for it! Add in pepper, paprika, chilli, garlic, cinnamon etc! Apparently if you give your baby bland foods, then they're more likely to become a fussy eater! So that'll be fun to try! Also I never realised the importance of (healthy) fat for babies! Apparently they need higher fat diets to give them more reserve, Josh will be pleased to hear that! He'll be giving Maddison lots of avocados for the healthy fats they contain I'm sure! (We love avocados in our house hehe!) Also, how important it is to watch out for too much sugar in babies food and diet. A lot of branded supermarket foods, put wayyyy too much sugar for kids in their products! So finding good brands, that are aware of sugar, or just simply making things from scratch at home are best to avoid any nasties!!
I personally, don't see it as the end of the world starting to wean little one slightly early. I know from speaking to other mums that formula feed their babies, they started before the general 6 month mark. And I know there are some circumstances/situations where little one needs to start earlier, which would be consulted with a doctor! I think it all goes back to remembering every baby is different, develops differently and so you can't really compare! I know one mum who weaned both her babies at 4 months and they've never had a problem - they loved it! On the other side, I know someone's baby who refused anything but breast till 7 months! It completely varies! Back in the day, my grandma gave my mum solids in her first week of being born!! Obviously, times change and we have MUCH more knowledge and research now, but she's never had stomach problems, allergies or IBS etc! Of course, if it doesn't agree with Maddison (and we maybe get a few poo-narmis!), it's not like we can't just go back to the bottle for a few more weeks and then try again later!
At the end of the day, no one knows a baby like their mama does. I don't think it's fair for anyone to judge and start jumping on another mother when they don't know that individual baby or their history... I feel much more confident about the thought of starting weaning soon as when I met a nutritionist the other day, she just saw Maddison's behaviour as I was trying to munch on a protein bar and she just said, "omg that baby is SO ready to wean! Go for it!". And I have also had it recommended for my baby by our doctor due to other reasons. It's so reassuring that a professional agrees with all the signs or suggests giving it a go, it makes me feel I'm making the right decision for MY baby. (Of course, it's always good to check with a health professional either GP, Health Visitor, Nutritionist etc!)
Now I've pretty much made up my mind to give it a go soon, I'm getting myself all prepared trying to find baby spoons, bowls and more durable bibs, ready for her when that first feed comes! Any brand recommendations of good baby bowls/spoons etc. please do let me know mamas! Also if you have an great baby food tips/recipes also let me know! With Maddison's ridiculous amount curiosity I'm sure she'll love exploring new tastes! And I can't wait to see her facial expressions as she's trying everything hehe! I've also stocked up on the antibacterial wipes, as I'm pretty certain things are going to be getting messy in our kitchen haha!! I guess sterilising bottles will seem like a breeze compared to having to clean up after preparing, cooking, blending and feeding Maddie our mushy baby creations!!
Mama's.. give me a heads up.. which foods stain clothes the worst and I should definitely watch out for haha?!
My mum also gave me a tip... she said she used to make up a load of baby food and then store it in the freezer in ice-cube trays! She said they were the perfect size for a baby portion to start off with! And it saved having to make a mess everytime we needed feeding! She just used to take out a cube of blended spinach or something and warm it up! Always get the best tips/hacks from my mummy hehe!
When did you start to wean your little one? How did it go? Any tastes they particularly loved or hated?!
Lots of Love, Bethany x
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