I remember my first experience of weaning with Reuben as clear as if it were yesterday. I was a very confident first time mum and I didn’t follow all the rules that most would. We started early because I felt that Reuben needed food (4 months – not dangerously early… I was confident, not reckless!) and I started with a beautiful home cooked dish of puréed sweet potato, broccoli and cream cheese.
Not going to lie, it was tasty enough that I had a good lick of the spoon once or twice.
When Toby came along, it was a very different story. I found having a second child a lot more time consuming. With Reuben we used pre-made, shop bought baby food, but only when we were out, for convenience and speed. I took time to make sure that everything I fed him was both balanced and delicious, food that I would eat but that was gentle enough for him. With Toby I followed the recommendations of trying individual flavours one by one, probably more because it was so easy for making a big batch. Buy a huge bag of apples, cook them all, freeze them, serve to baby.
I bought more prepared food too; unashamedly. I think as a mother there is often a stigma around buying food for your baby instead of making it yourself, but I’ve never been one to buy into that. In the time that I would have spent making food for Toby, and later Edith, I was making memories with them, getting out to soft play, the sea life centre and other places where the kids could enjoy themselves and, to be honest, I could get out of the house!
I’ve always been an advocate of letting go of any stress you have over buying baby food. It can get quite monotonous if you are relentlessly making food for your tinker, trying to move forward with each stage, so if you want to, I’m all for buying! We took a full suitcase of baby food on holiday for Toby so that I knew he would have a balance and enjoy his food, without me being concerned that he would pick up something that could hurt him.
If you do want to make food or even buy it, I do have a few tips for you that I found helped me:
- – Be bold! Try different fruits, veggies and flavours. Reuben’s favourite flavours were Asian inspired and veggies with coconut milk. Babies love flavour so don’t be afraid of it!
- – Stick to a good mix of fruit and veg when you first start. HiPP Organic savoury jars don’t have any hidden fruit, which I found really useful with Reuben because he suffered quite badly with nappy rash and acidic poops (yup, weaning brings on a whole barrel of yuck!) so lowering his fruit intake, whilst still keeping the veggies up for vitamins was something I learnt pretty quickly!
- – Different stages mean different textures – it’s now recommended that baby should be introduced to soft lumps from 7 months to encourage healthy eating habits. This is something that I found a little bit daunting when I was making food for Roo. Are the lumps soft enough, are they the right size? So if you are a little bit nervous of this, I would recommend trying hard like HiPP 7m+ to introduce baby to textures, and familiarise yourself with how the food should look and feel.
- – Follow recipes from brands that make baby food! It is a misconception that the baby food industry doesn’t want you to cook your own food and exclusively buy. That’s just not reality for most people. Especially as people get more confident, they tend to make their own food as well as use shop-bought baby food. So many people use both, so there is a wealth of knowledge out there for those who want to make their own food, especially on the brand websites. Even if you just look at the packets, be inspired!
- – What do you eat? Get liquidising. There is nothing wrong with pureeing what you eat for your little one, just be conscious of salt and sugar levels and make sure you check advice about meat and things like honey/shellfish.
- – Be prepared for mess and refusal either way. Sometimes trying something new is tough right? Yeah, baby agrees!! Shop bought or homemade, both were messy and both were turned down at various points!
I hope those tips help and if you are a new Mum about to start weaning but doubting whether you want to make everything yourself or buy a bulk load this will give you the confidence to know that neither is the right or wrong and neither is exclusive.
For more advice, you can also read my post on the HiPP Organic blog which includes my top tips for weaning with fruit and veg! If you want to grab yourself some money off some nutritious grub for your baby, you can with these discount vouchers!