I felt very differently about starting Alfie’s weaning journey that I did starting Frey’s nearly two years ago. The first time around I remember being so excited to make up nutritious home cooked purees that my little one would eat with delight, along with the lightly steamed broccoli ‘trees’ and such like – and the reality being very different! I think Frey refused most things I offered him, until he had his first taste of apple puree – which went down a treat!
So this time around, I was in no rush. I started Alfie weaning the day before he turned 6 months old. He wasn’t sitting up on his own (he still isn’t, at 7 months) and wasn’t showing much interest in what Frey and I were eating, he seemed quite happy on just milk, so I didn’t feel the need to start him any earlier.
I was contacted by Ella’s Kitchen, who told me about the campaign they have running called Veg for Victory. They would like Public Health England to enhance the NHS Choices guidelines on weaning, to promote vegetables first, vegetables frequently, and vegetables in variety for babies’ first tastes. I am a huge fan of Ella’s kitchen – I can’t praise them enough, for when Frey would refuse any vegetables, their pouches which contained fruit and vegetables combined were an absolute saviour for me. This time around, inspired by their new campaign, my plan with Alfie was to give him vegetables in variety, and nothing else, aside from his usual milk of course, for the first two weeks of weaning. I decided this time around I wasn’t going to get myself overly worried about it, and if he didn’t like anything, then I would just leave it until the following day when I would give him a different taste of vegetables.
Day One, and Alfie’s first taste was of peas, from Ella’s Kitchen’s ‘first taste’ sachets which contain peas, and only peas! I think he was surprised at the taste, which is very different to milk, but he ate a few spoonfuls, which I thought was a very positive start!
Moving on, we tried sweet potatoes, which were also well received..
And the only thing he wasn’t too sure about were the parsnips!
After we had finished our Ella’s Kitchen pouches, I was so lucky that a friend of mine, with a baby the same age as Alfie, gave me freezer bags full of vegetables that she had cooked, pureed, and frozen into ice cube trays. This was a fantastic idea, and made meal times for the next couple of weeks so simple – all I needed to do was to choose a vegetable and defrost it. I often mixed in some of Alfie’s milk if the puree was a bit thick. Alfie tried green beans, butternut squash, cauliflower, potato, carrots, and combinations of the above. He was really seeming to enjoy eating and soon was eating three big ice cubes of vegetables (heated up of course) for his meal, which I gave him at 5pm, simply because this is the time his brother eats his tea, so it was simpler to feed them both together.
I must mention at this point these fantastic weaning spoons that we have been trying out from Nuby. These are ‘Hot Safe’ spoons, which change colour when the food is too hot to give to your baby. They’re also the perfect size for first weaning, and I absolutely love them. Mealtimes here are so hectic, as now Alfie is eating I’m often trying to prepare three meals at once, so these spoons really help give me peace of mind that I’m not going to burn Alfie’s mouth. Testing the temperature by tasting the food yourself is fine of course, but I find my little ones are more sensitive to hot food than I am, and sometimes something that I think is a good temperature will make them jump as they find it a little too hot – which can then put them off eating it!
Alfie’s lovely bib is also from Nuby – this is something else that is such an obviously good idea, that I didn’t come across the first time around – a wipe clean bib! When Frey was weaning I had piles of fabric bibs that needed to go through the wash each day – now I can just pop this one in with the washing up, give it a wipe, and it’s good to go for the next meal.
Moving on, after Alfie’s first two weeks of vegetables first and vegetables in variety, it was time to introduce something else into his diet. I started to give him porridge for breakfast in the morning, plain at first, then after a few days I started to add some fruit purees into the porridge, which also went down very well.
As I started weaning at six months, it wasn’t long before Alfie was ready for something more substantial than just vegetables for his evening meal, so I made up a big batch of carrot, lentil and potato soup, which I made a bit thicker, into a puree. This was one of Frey’s favourites when he was a baby (and there were very few of those!) and thankfully, Alfie loved it too. I’m actually amazed at the quantity of this soup he manages to eat after he had been on solid food for just a few weeks!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large baking potato
1 celery stalk
75g red lentils
500ml low salt vegetable stock
Peel the potatoes and carrots, and then roughly chop all of the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onion, celery, potato and carrots. Reduce the head and cover the pan, and leave the ingredients to sweat for about 10-15 minutes. Then add the lentils and the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and leave to simmer until all the vegetables are soft. Blend with a stick blender.
As I write this, it is the day before Alfie turns 7 months old, so a month since we started our weaning journey. In the last four days, Alfie has been ready for some food at lunchtime too, so is now eating three meals a day. I’ve added some fruit puree or fromage frais as a dessert for him after lunch and tea – although it did take him a day or so to get used to the sweeter taste after all those vegetables!
A month on, I think we’re ready to try a little baby led weaning too, so today I have made some breadsticks for him to chew on. I don’t think he ate any, but they’re great to start giving him the idea of finger foods!
It’s still very early days, but I’m so happy with how Alfie’s weaning journey is going so far. He loves food and there is very little he will refuse to eat. I think the Ella’s Kitchen ‘Veg for Victory’ campaign is such a fantastic idea, I wish I had tried it the first time around too and not worried so much about what my eldest would and wouldn’t eat – which is very easy to say in hindsight!
My favourite book for weaning recipes is the River Cottage Baby and Toddler cookbook – which is where I adapted my soup recipe from, and also has the recipe I use for low salt bread.
You can read more about the Ella’s Kitchen Veg for Victory campaign here where you can also download a two week veg planner.
I also highly recommend Nuby for their baby inventions – you can visit their website and view the range here. I’ve written more about Nuby in my ‘Fabulous Baby Inventions‘ post. They have so many products that I just wish I’d had the first time around!
If you’re on your weaning journey with your little one – good luck, and enjoy!