Welcome to our Baby led weaning first week and second-week story! Leo has just turned six months old, so I wanted to write about the first and second week of our weaning journey. I’ve been writing a few posts about it over the past few weeks. Check out:
Just a disclaimer – I’m not an expert or trained in nutrition. This is not an advice post, it’s just sharing the experience of what I’ve done.
Weaning can be an exciting and difficult time. I was so excited for Leo to experience new foods. But it’s also a bit of a scary time. I’m terrified of him choking. I’ve read about gagging vs choking and watched videos that showed me what to do if he does choke. But I’m desperate for him not to choke! I can’t deal with it.
Babies have a brilliant gag reflex to protect them from choking. l knew gagging would happen and it’s normal. That doesn’t mean it’s nice.
Another thing that I was worried about was our routine. Where would I fit this in? What would happen when we had plans? I knew I needed a bit of time first between starting weaning and then being able to take him places and let him eat solids.
It felt like we had a routine sorted, but now things were changing and I’d have to figure out what to do again.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
I knew I wanted to do baby-led weaning from the start.
Baby-led weaning is exactly what it sounds like it is. Your baby leads the way. It’s different to traditional feeding, where you feed your baby purees with a spoon.
With baby-led weaning, they have their first finger foods in front of them and you let them explore it. They pick it up and put it to their mouths on their own. This gives them the chance to explore tastes and textures in their own time.
Benefits of baby-led weaning:
- It helps them practice their fine motor skills of putting their hands to their mouth
- They develop chewing skills
- It allows them to control their own appetite and stop eating when they want to stop
When you spoon-feed a baby, it’s possible to sneak in a few extra spoonfuls of food than they don’t need, doing this regularly teaches a child to eat more than they need and they are unable to regulate their appetite properly. Recent studies show that baby-led weaning helps a baby to regulate their own appetite in later life and also has a positive effect on their eating habits and palettes.
Baby led weaning first week
We started our weaning journey about 10 days before he was 6 months. The ideal time is 6 months. We started early because he was displaying all signs of readiness, he was close to 6 months and we started on a weekend where my partner would be there to see. My partner had a work trip the following weekend which mean his next free day would be after Leo was 6 months.
As I had researched about weaning before, I knew Leo would not eat much. Weaning is all about exploring food. Milk (breast or formula milk) is the main source of nutrition until they are 1 year old.
It can be tempting to start early but this can lead to problems with gut health and digestion in later life. Starting from 4 months is out of date advice. There are lots of myths that babies are hungry so need food to fill them, but that’s not right. Unless you have been advised by a doctor (for example, a doctor may recommend a baby wean early if he has reflux) then wait until they are around 6 months old and are showing signs of readiness:
- Stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady
- Coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
- Swallow food (rather than spit it back out) – babies who aren’t ready will push more food back out with their tongue than they actually swallow.
So, we had set our date and committed to weaning and here’s how it went.
Day 1: Broccoli
I prepared this as both finger food and puree and offered him both. He picked the broccoli up and put it in his mouth and pulled a face. He did this a few times. It was hard to tell how much he actually ate. He wasn’t that bothered about the puree or pre-loaded spoon. He did swallow some as it was in his nappy the next day!
Day 2: Courgette
I didn’t bother with the puree on day two and just steamed some courgette fingers. He put them in his mouth a few time and pulled faces at them! He sucked them more than chewed them.
Day 3: Asparagus
Again, I just kept this as finger food. He picked them up and sucked them a few times. This made me nervous as the whole tip could fall off into his mouth easily.
Day 4: Carrot
He was not in the mood today. He didn’t nap very well and was moody so they all ended up not the floor.
Day 5: Carrot
Today went much better! He was putting the sticks in his mouth and pulled a few small bits into his mouth! I couldn’t tell when he swallowed them but he did as they were in his nappy the next day.
Day 6: Broccoli & Courgette
I offered both broccoli and courgette today as they needed eating. He was way more interested in the broccoli than anything else and had a good go at it!
Day 7: Potato
I offered this as both mash and finger sticks. I put in about half an oz of breast milk in a bowl and mashed it together with a fork. As the sticks were really boiled, they broke off easily in his mouth. He did a big gag on these and was sick. I know this was normal but I hated it and it really scared me.
Baby led weaning second week
With the first week of our baby led weaning journey in the bag, it was now time for our second week!
Day 8: butternut squash
I boiled this and offered it as both mash and finger food. Again, he gagged on the sticks. He’s getting a bit more confident and it’s causing him to gag. He wasn’t just a bit of a gag, it was gagging for a while until he was sick. As he did it two days in a row, it’s really knocked my confidence even though I know it’s normal.
I spent the rest of the day stressing about feeding him and worrying about it. I wanted to stop weaning and was tempted to just give purees going forward.
Day 9: sweet potato mash
I decided to play it safe today and just offer him mash.
I had seen in a baby-led weaning Facebook group that you can’t mix traditional weaning and baby-led weaning as the moment you do traditional weaning and spoon feed them, then it’s no longer baby-led. That messed with my head a bit but then I had a good talk to myself and decided I didn’t want to get caught up on the language and do things that made me feel stressed (eg finger food). So I gave him just sweet potato mashed with some of my breast milk. I loaded the spoons for him and let him put them in his mouth himself.
He seemed to really enjoy this! He did some small gags but nothing big.
Day 10: sweet potato mash
I still had some sweet potato left so decided to offer him the same again. I loaded the spoon for him and put it in his hand and he put it in his mouth.
Day 11: Broccoli
Back to broccoli again as he did so well with it the previous two times. It felt like a safe finger food for me as it comes off in tiny bits! He demolished it with hands and mouth!
Day 12: Avocado
I was feeling a bit more confident now so gave him avocado both as fingers and mashed some up for him. He seemed more interested in the avocado on the spoon than the fingers! He squeezed the finger food but ate most of it off the spoon.
Day 13: Avocado and toast
Today was a big day – the first thing that wasn’t veg and the first allergen! I gave him mashed avocado on toast.
He seemed to really enjoy it! I ended up taking the crust off the top of the finger as it fell very easily into his mouth in a big chunk and that scared me.
Day 14: sweet potato mash, broccoli and asparagus
Three things in one go! I had quite a lot of veg that would go off if not used, so decided to give him sweet potato mash and then broccoli and asparagus as finger food. He wasn’t bothered about the asparagus, but loved the mash and broccoli!
Weaning products we used in these photos:
- IKEA highchair
- wooden footrest
- sage leaf cushion insert
- elephant plate
- bamboo bowl and plate set with 2 spoons
- doidy Cup
I’ve been offering Leo water from an open cup (this cup) each day with is food. Only a SMALL amount. He wasn’t that bothered at first but now he gets excited when he sees the cup. I put it to his mouth and tip it. I think he spits most of it out at the moment but he’s getting better at holding it in his mouth and swallowing.
What’s next for our baby-led weaning journey?
Well, now we’ve had some veg I want to continue offering veg in both mash and finger food. I also am going to offer him greek yoghurt with fruit and more things on toast. We need to try egg and peanut butter too! So I’ll probably do omelette in strips as finger food.
If I’m completely honest, I have not enjoyed weaning. I’ve been very stressed about him choking and it’s been like a dark cloud over the whole process.
I’ve also really struggled with timing when to feed him as it’s taken the time I would normally do housework! It takes a long time as after I’ve prepared the food and it’s cool, I sit with him in the highchair until either all the finger food is on the floor or he stops showing Interest and this can be after 30 minutes of him exploring. Then I need to clean him and clean the high chair and floor.
I have no idea how I’ll deal with increasing his meals but I think for the next couple of weeks we will keep with one meal after his morning nap. Then when he’s tried more food, we will have breakfast at that time, then he can have a second meal with us in the evening. Sat at the table in his highchair and eating similar to what we eat. I need to get better at planning family meals as our meals are a bit samey at the moment and I want lots of variety.
I just feel like I need to have a bit more confidence in his ability to eat and I need to learn more about what he can handle so I can eat with him without watching him like a hawk! This plan is just the ideal and may change depending on how he copes with the next week or two of weaning!
The biggest tip I’ve learnt
Make sure your baby can’t see any toys and is free from distraction! When he could see a toy he would look at it rather than concentrate on the food!
Hope you enjoyed our baby led weaning first week and second-week journal!