This is a guest post from the lovely Kylie :O) Thank you so much for sharing your weaning experiences with us Kylie & of course the gorgeous little Joseph x
Weaning – The Trials and Tribulations of Weaning a Small Baby
My little boy, Joseph, was born at 27 weeks gestation, at birth he was a very petite 1lb 7oz. Initially fed by “superman formula” he soon moved on to expressed breast milk, and finally a specialist premature baby formula, Joseph very much struggled with his weight, and languished under the 0.4th centile for many months, causing sleepless nights for me, and worry for his doctors.
|Joseph’s first ever meal!|
Weaning is confusing and bewildering for many parents, at around 4 months of age, like many parents, I started considering when it would be best to start solids. I found it exceedingly frustrating, Bliss, the premature baby charity, have a factsheet, and guidelines, and recommend between 4 and 7 months from the baby’s actual date of birth, not their due date. My Health Visitor said 9 months of age, and finally I managed to get hold of the paediatric team who confirmed what Bliss recommends, between 4 and 7 months actual age.
During my pregnancy I read Baby Led Weaning by Gillian Rapley from cover to cover. What appealed to me was the baby eating real food, not mush, with the family, and with the hope that this would make life easier for the parents, and discourage fussiness. However Gillian makes it clear that Baby Led Weaning is not appropriate for extremely premature babies.
I looked at websites and books, and the only person who was remotely helpful was Annabel Karmel, who suggested not staying too long on baby rice, if used at all, and not delaying with textures and lumps. So I came up with my own strategy, that I call “Collaborative Weaning”. I decided to start at 24 weeks of age, 2 weeks before 26 weeks, the magic 6 month mark. Joseph had been watching my every move with food, copying my eating, and he looked ready!
Now this is where things become tricky. Whilst Joseph from the neck up was almost 6 months old, he looked and acted pretty much like a new born. He couldn’t sit unsupported, he couldn’t hold things reliably in his hands, there was no way this child could feed himself. Also, my little boy, despite being four times his birth weight was still only 8lbs, smaller than some newborns!
My little boy’s first meal was avocado, I mashed half for him, and spread the rest on my toast. He sat in his bumbo seat, padded with muslins. I sat on the floor and I had a bite and fed him a spoonful. He ate it all! I was stunned.
The next day, we had mango, again I cut long strips for me, and pureed his, and it disappeared. We carried on like this every breakfast time for two weeks. Slowly I added more vegetables. I waited until he was 7 months to introduce wheat and protein. Joseph’s first protein meal was salmon with carrots in orange juice, an Annabel Karmel recipe. And to my suprise, it was delicious for myself and my husband too. So this confirmed my decision to try to keep to the Baby Led principles as much as I could.
|Joseph at 15 months|
I started finger foods with Joseph at 7 months. This was a challenge. Although Joseph could eat well, he still couldn’t hold things, so I’d hold a stick of mango, or a peeled piece of Satsuma and he would suck and slurp away at it. Although time consuming, it was great fun!
As the months went on, I adapted my cooking so we could all eat the same things, Joseph loved strong tasting stews, he loved herbs, I’d take him into my herb garden to smell, pick and choose our herbs. I’d sit him in his bouncy chair holding vegetables whilst I cooked.
Joseph is now 20 months old and people always comment on his eating. His table manners are great (with the odd toddler quirk thrown in, dumping food out of the side of the high chair, or opening his mouth and letting food fall out!) He self feeds 90% of the time, finding only yoghurt difficult to manage.
Joseph’s favourite foods are curry, spicy sausages, mango and avocado. He loves to munch on peas and corn on the cob. He loves apples and kiwi fruit. And he still has an enduring love for fish.
Joseph also likes chocolate, but it must be Green and Black’s, he is not keen on dairy milk buttons! He loves cake, he amazed by parents in law, who live in Germany, by demolishing Bienenstich, a yeasted cake filled with custard topped with almonds.
I still feel that that the parents of babies in special situations need more help and advice, it is suprising how many parents have young children with issues such as prematurity, failure to thrive and are tube fed, and other medical conditions that make weaning more complicated and stressful than it would be otherwise.
I think what is always important to remember is that food provides nutrition and bulk to the diet, but, in all fairness, food is meant to be fun, enjoyable and a pleasant experience at the heart of family life.