Top tips for weaning your baby

**Post written in association with WaterWipes

Weaning your baby is definitely one of the big milestones of the first year of their life, but with so much conflicting advice out there, it can be hard to know where to start! Now Toby is five and Gabe is three we are past the weaning stage, although they are both still regularly trying new foods and discovering what they like and don’t like, just like they did when they were babies.

Is weaning stressful?

I know I found weaning quite stressful, especially as a first time mum with Toby. And it would seem I was not alone. New research commissioned by WaterWipes to mark the launch of new WaterWipes with Soapberry has revealed that 73 per cent of parents feel confused when it comes to what they should be feeding their baby in the early months – with 67 per cent feeling overwhelmed by conflicting advice about when they should begin weaning.

Toby eating porridge when he started weaning

The poll found that, on average, parents started to wean their baby around six months old. Toby was just under six months when we started weaning, and his first meal was actually Christmas dinner! Not that he ate any of it but he did lick a few bits of carrot.

I’ve written before about our weaning journey with Toby. Although we fully intended to do baby-led weaning when it came to it we actually fed Toby quite a lot of the time as he preferred it, and I just couldn’t stand the mess involved with letting him feed himself all the time! He never really had purees though, and mostly ate the same as us from the very beginning.

Weaning is messy!

According to the WaterWipes survey I definitely wasn’t the only parent to have a problem with the mess of weaning – almost six in 10 parents admitted there were times when they chose what to feed their child, based on the amount of mess it would make, opting for the least messiest meal. One in twenty even said the mess that comes with feeding babies is one of the biggest challenges about weaning.

Gabe enjoying his broccoli

I have to say I was more relaxed when Gabe was weaning and as long as he had a good bib on and a mat under his highchair then the mess was much more manageable. Of course a mat and a bib can’t always contain the mess. The survey by WaterWipes highlighted that parents have found food in some rather unexpected places after a particularly messy meal. Over a third found food on the kitchen wall (33 per cent), a fifth found food in their bra/ under their top (20 per cent) and some have even found that food had made its way to the hallway after mealtime had ended (12 per cent). I mean, are you even a mum if you haven’t taken your bra off at night and had a rogue pea or a bit of toast fall out?

Exploring different tastes

Whichever way you choose to wean your baby, one thing that is definitely important is introducing them to lots of different tastes from an early age. Toby and Gabe have nearly always eaten the same as us, meaning they were eating things like (mild) curry and chilli as well as the more usual first foods such as fruit, vegetables and pasta. I don’t know if it’s the way weaned them or just luck but whichever it is I’m very happy that both my boys love vegetables, and will often eat the veggies on their plates before anything else!

Things have definitely changed since I was a baby though. According to the survey over a fifth of millennial babies have a sophisticated palette and enjoy a variety of on-trend ‘staple’ foods including avocados, quinoa and houmous. Traditional dishes such as toad in the hole (41%) and chicken korma (46%) are also highly favoured amongst dinky diners. Toby and Gabe both like houmous but I can’t say they’ve ever had quinoa!

The new WaterWipes with Soapberry baby wipe is designed for growing babies who are starting to try new foods and experience the world around them for the first time. The wipe is made with 99.9% water, plus a drop of fruit and Soapberry extract, to provide the same WaterWipes purity while harnessing the natural cleaning properties of Soapberry.

Waterwipes with Soapberry

Expert weaning advice

As well as conducting the survey about weaning trends, to help parents through the weaning phase WaterWipes have teamed up with Natasha Corrett, parenting influencer and recipe expert. She has the following advice:

  • Let them explore and love food. I started letting Rudy feed himself with finger food’s such as Beetroot Pinwheels after starting purées and he loved exploring the touch, smells and sounds of the food as well as the taste! He is a brilliant eater now because of it. Allowing them to feed themselves teaches them all sorts of developmental skills no matter how much ends up in their mouths.
  • Do not stress about giving them a mixture of purees and solid foods, the variety will help them develop, and they will learn to love more solids as time goes on.
  • Give them different textures and flavours including strong tasting foods such as Teriyaki Chicken and Turmeric Mash, after they have tried the basics, to make sure their senses continue to develop. This also ensures that they get used to the taste of new and more ‘adult’ food and then it becomes easier for cooking for the whole family.
  • I know first-hand how busy parenting is so I recommend batch cooking and freezing. This will make your life so much easier so you are not cooking and cleaning up all day long.
  • If they are going through a teething stage they might go off food. Don’t panic too much, they will eat what they need, but I found reusable pouches the best thing as they enjoying sucking food out of them so just fill them up with purées and let them eat from them. This does get babies quite messy, but WaterWipes with Soapberry are perfect to clean them up with as they are so pure and gentle, even on sensitive skin.

Gabe with a little bit of chocolate on his face

I can definitely agree with a lot of this advice – Gabe had a lot more purees than Toby did but at 3 and 5 they both eat the same foods now, and because they have both always eaten the same foods as us I rarely cook them separate meals. Weaning can be a tricky phase to negotiate but there’s some great advice here, and like everything you’ll get through it in your own way.

Did your children have any strange first tastes? Or do you have any weaning tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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