Disclaimer: All babies are different. I cannot promise that this is a failsafe guide for your own offspring. If you are lucky your baby may go straight from Stage 4: The First Mouthful to Stage 18: #WINNING, skipping out all the crap in between. If your baby does this, please send me tips! If not, repeat after me, “I have never met an adult who doesn’t eat solids…” Aaaaand breathe!
Stage 1: Prep Like a Boss
As the saying goes: fail to prepare – prepare to fail. You will not fall into that trap, you will prep like a boss. You will buy 2 weaning books, download 2 weaning apps, and send off for weaning packs from Ella’s Kitchen and Cow and Gate. You will kit out your kitchen with baby bowls, spoons, bibs and a fancy sippy cup that promises to work miracles and make any baby learn to drink water instantaneously. You, my friend, will be prepared. Joe Wicks would be proud.
Stage 2: Spoon-Feeding vs. Baby-Led Weaning
After reading up on traditional spoon feeding versus baby led weaning you will probably come to the conclusion that you may as well do a bit of both. As long as baby is at the right stage for what you offer him, why narrow down your scope? Sorted.
Stage 3: When To Start
If you are a first time parent (unless you know a lot about babies) you’ll probably be planning to wait until the NHS advisory 6 month mark before weaning commences. But then suddenly you’ll find yourself surrounded by other mothers starting their babies off on solids much earlier and your initial decision begins to waver. You’re tempted to get going a bit early. I dare you not to crack and start early. I dare you!
You cracked 3 weeks early didn’t you? I knew you would!
Stage 4: The First Mouthful
The momentous day comes. You offer baby a little spoonful of their carefully planned first meal. They pull that ‘WTF’ face that you’ve seen on so many other babies plastered all over social media before. You take the obligatory photo of baby with a messy face.
Then you proceed to send said photo to everyone you know. Baby didn’t actually digest much (if any) of the food at this point, but the photo is too cute not to share.
Stage 5: Homemade All The Way
You start with full intentions to always make your own food, but it won’t take long for you to give in. After the umpteenth time your lovingly homemade fare has been splattered across the kitchen floor, your clothes and everywhere except inside the baby’s mouth you will think ‘sod it’ and add a gazillion Ella’s kitchen pouches to your next online shop.
Stage 6: Purée Connoisseur
You will try the majority of your baby’s foods, just to see what they taste like. You’ll feel bad that everything is so bland and tasteless. You’ll also feel eternally thankful that as an adult you are allowed to season your food.
Stage 7: Not Living Up To Expectations
You will feel bad when people keep saying things like, “He’s doing well with his food then!” They think he is doing well because that photo you sent them made it appear so. Suddenly you regret sending the photo to every man and his dog.
Stage 8: Why? Why? Why?
You will start to think to yourself, “Why will my baby still only eat 2 spoons of purée in a day when everybody else’s is onto 3 full meals and 2 snacks already?!” There is no answer to this question. Just accept that babies be babies – they are all different.
Stage 9: Finger Foods
At least baby is a little more responsive to finger foods than he is to spoon-feeding, you will think to yourself. You will hold on to that thought. Perhaps baby is just a forward thinking, self-proclaimed baby led weaner. Of course at this early stage baby mostly just chews and then discards the finger foods offered, but you have heard that is to be expected to begin with. You will feel hopeful that he will soon be properly consuming all these finger foods. You even found little bits of broccoli in his poo one day so that must be a clear sign that SOME of it is being digested!
Stage 10: The Many Types of Baby Cup
Baby doesn’t take to the first sippy cup you offer him. You buy a different type to try. This doesn’t work either. Before you know it you have purchased and tried all the types of baby cups. Still nothing works. Eventually you give up and resort to offering water in baby’s usual milk bottle which works. Occasionally.
Stage 11: Re-Analysis of Equipment
Come to think of it, maybe it’s not just the cup that he doesn’t like: maybe baby’s progress is being hindered by other feeding equipment too. You find yourself analysing all the implements you bought in your Prep Like a Boss stage. You decide everything must be wrong. You buy new ones.
Stage 12: Kitchen Chaos
Suddenly you realise you have no room for your expanding baby dinnerware collection. (Unsurprisingly really, as you now have enough gear to serve up dinner for 52 toddlers all at the same time.) You curse every time you open the cupboard and a UFO (unidentified feeding object) flies out and hits you on the head. It’s official, it’s worse than the Tupperware cupboard. And that’s a feat that you never thought could be possible.
Stage 13: Food Or Teether?
The initial excitement at how ‘good’ baby is with finger foods fades as the realisation kicks in that very little appears to be digested. Ever. Has baby actually just viewed the sticks of broccoli / toast / carrot / cheese / mango you offer to him as particularly tasty teething aids all this time?!
Stage 14: Repeat After Me…
You will create a new mantra and repeat to yourself daily:
“I have never met an adult who doesn’t eat solids… I have never met an adult who doesn’t eat solids!”
99% of the time this mantra helps.
For the other 1% of the time there is always Google…
Stage 15: New Challenges In Public
In the early days of new motherhood you were met with lots of obstacles when going out in public like navigating baby changing facilities, figuring out how to heat babies milk in a variety of places, etc. For some time now you’ve been feeling like a bit of a pro, this stuff is all old hat to you. But now you are upping your game with the weaning thing and suddenly there are new obstacles. From simple things like highchairs (you had no idea they came in so many different shapes, sizes and styles until you started using them!) to other obstacles outside of your control like irritating strangers.
You’re likely to come across well-meaning strangers who will unwittingly distract your baby when you are trying to feed them. These strangers will think it is cute to talk to baby while you are feeding them. (“Are you enjoying your food little one?”) They will feel pleased with themselves as they make baby laugh, then walk away saying, “What a happy little chappy.” Meanwhile you’re left dealing with the fallout of a distracted baby who no longer gives two hoots about the remaining three quarters of their lunch. In this situation you must remind yourself that it is not socially acceptable to lamp strangers on the head in the John Lewis cafe. Even if they did just ruin your latest weaning attempt.
Stage 16: New Levels of Public Humiliation
It’s surprisingly degrading to have a small human spit bland puréed vegetable risotto all over you in public. It’s not fun at home either, but somehow it’s a little more demoralising in the presence of a bunch strangers. Especially when those strangers are relaxing with coffees, having adult conversations and not falling victim to sloppy food missiles fired at them by no other than a small, cute, yet deadly creature of their of own making.
Also in the realms of public humiliation- you will at least once find that you have become that person who leaves a coffee shop / cafe / restaurant table looking like a bomb has gone off. Purée, biscuits, fruit, cake… whatever it is, it is everywhere. Lovely and crunchy underfoot, ground down like sawdust in the cracks of the leather chair, strewn over the table with complete disregard for future diners. I guarantee even if you are the most clean, thoughtful mother in the world you will at least one time be having one of those days where everything is going wrong and other than a quick wet wipe spritz you will leave that mess where it is. You’ll just find yourself apologising profusely to a member of staff on the way out and trying to avoid the looks from the next lot of people about to sit down and are probably thinking, ‘filthy woman.’
Stage 17: STOP!
Finally you decide to stop analysing your baby’s weaning progress and just go with the flow. What will be will be, your baby is just a little renegade. You’ll get there eventually.
Stage 18: #WINNING
Baby finally eats everything, both spoon feeding and fingers foods. Milk is reduced, food is increased, Mum and baby are equally euphoric at the resounding success! At last you can consider yourself a weaning pro!
HAHAHAHA!!! Jokes! I’ve no idea what comes next, we’re still on the STOP! stage for the minute… but here’s hoping the next stage will be #winning!