This is a guest post by the lovely Clare from http://babyabroad.co.uk/ She is blogging about weaning her daughter in Spain today. Enjoy!
I loved weaning Amie, my first daughter. I adored seeing which tastes she’d love and which would be projected straight over the side of the high chair. Aside from the hair pulling frustration of her occasionally rejecting foods that took hours to lovingly prepare, all went very well. And so moving to Madrid from England when my second daughter, Georgia, was 6 months old was a challenge to weaning that I hadn’t really anticipated.
The hardest thing for me was adapting my previously tried and tested weaning methods to a totally unfamiliar situation. I didn’t speaking much Spanish on arrival and reading the labels on products was a nightmare. Armed with my dictionary it would take hours to do one shop and as my eldest didn’t attend school for the first 5 months, those shopping trips were, at times, pretty stressful.
Foods were very different too. Baby cereals, for example, are all incredibly sweet here and I didn’t know if it was safe to give my baby the ones that contained honey, so avoided those. Thankfully I found a supermarket selling Weetabix. Likewise with snacks, I really missed Organix crisps and rice cakes. The only baby biscuits were all of the same sweet flavour and any savoury snacks seemed to contain a lot of salt. I guess as a result we used more veg as finger foods which of course was no bad thing, though totally alien to my Spanish friends who were amazed to see Georgia sucking on a piece of red pepper.
I certainly can’t complain about the quality of fresh food here. Fruit and veg tend to be seasonal, which means they all made really flavoursome purees. A bonus to arriving in May was that the fruits were wonderful; delicious mangoes, nectarines and strawberries. Georgia’s favourite was most definitely melon that she would happily gum through post puree. Seasonal produce is of course great, but the main drawback is the lack of variety and it was frustrating not being able to find veg that for me were first time round must haves. I wasted far too much time frantically scouring all the shops in Madrid for parsnips.
I generally made my own baby food, but on occasion you do need a jar of baby food when out and about. My favourites first time were anything with a good robust taste. I particularly liked Organix jars for good strong flavour. Here, the fruit purees were excellent, but the choices of meals at the time were no more than about 6 different flavours; beef and veg, ham and veg, chicken and veg…. you get the idea. Prepared baby food in Spain is also much smoother than the purees we get in the UK and I was admittedly lump obsessed. With my first daughter, I feared she would grow up eating soup forever if she didn’t take to lumpy food early. Here though, pieces aren’t introduced in baby jars until 12 months+ which freaked me out a bit and I avoided using jars as much as possible.
You realise when you’re in another country how different the information available is. I gather, from talking to Spanish mums, that baby led weaning isn’t known and babies are generally weaned at the same time and on the same types of food. Eg from 4 months they put a non gluten cereal into the last bottle at night and switching to gluten based cereal after 6 months. Purees are introduced in the same was as in the UK, but remain a staple part of the diet through to toddler stages. My eldest, now 6 is disgusted that they still serve puree at her age for school dinners from time to time.
The real advantage to weaning in Spain is the social nature of eating and I love how it affected my children’s attitudes to food. Mealtimes at, particularly at weekends, really are the slow drawn out social occasions we think of when we picture Spanish family meals. The relaxed mood and a chance to mimic adults eating habits I think meant that Georgia progressed much quicker onto solid foods, much to my lump obsessed relief and tried things she wouldn’t have chance to in the UK. My favourite memory is seeing her tuck into some very lovely, very tender baby squid.
I am still amazed at the adaptability of children and while it was a challenge for me to wean Georgia while out of my comfort zone, she certainly came through it with flying colours.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Clare – I find it very interesting how other countries differ! If anybody else has any weaning experiences in a different country I would love to hear from you :O)