Kieron is weaning onto solid food at the minute and I have researched so much about weaning a baby over the last few months that I must be somewhat of an expert now. I looked into both baby-led weaning and traditional weaning and I was initially adamant that my baby was going to be baby-led weaned because it was the natural way and it seemed to naturally follow on from breastfeeding. I tried him with a few strips of food and I just could not relax. I think in the end the stress was too real and it wasn't fun for either of us. I decided to go onto traditional weaning and we are both much more relaxed about the whole thing. I don't think Kieron cares which way the food goes in, so long as it does, but the more relaxed the mammy is, the more relaxed the baby is. As I am still breastfeeding, this might be somewhat different for a formula fed baby. I will be honest now and say I didn't look into that at all, because it's not relevant for me. I also held off on weaning until 6 months, as is currently recommended. Some people do still wean at 4 months but we decided to wait. With baby-led weaning, it is recommended that the baby is at least 6 months anyway, with good head control and preferably able to sit up unaided. Kieron's very first finger foods were roasted sweet potato, roasted carrot, avocado and banana. He didn't eat much but he mushed them up and brought them to his mouth, then dropped them. I tried him on a piece of toast and he loved it, gumming away until it was all soggy and gross. I was too scared to try him on a wide enough range of food though, so baby-led weaning didn't work for us at all. He has reflux and he is quite a sicky baby already, so watching him gagging on food and bringing up all his milk with it was just too much for me.
With his traditional weaning, we started out on single fruit and single veg purees. I found the Ella's Kitchen pouches to be really handy, especially when he was only on a couple of mouthfuls a day. The pouches are safe in the fridge for 24-48 hours so I fed him straight from the pouch, and put the unused in the fridge as soon as he was done. That way I didn't waste too much. When he was doing ok on single fruit and veg purees, we moved onto mixed. I would say we moved onto mixed after about a week of single. We baby-led weaned for the first few weeks, so he was a few weeks "behind" when we started traditional weaning. I was therefore advised to catch him up fairly quickly. When he had been on mixed fruit and veg purees for a few weeks, he turned 7 months. At 7 months, babies are supposed to go onto lumpier food and also try a wider variety of food. I added rice, oats, beans, chickpeas, lentils, live yoghurt, cheese and pasta, all blended in with his vegetable and fruit purees. He does still get quite a lot of breastfeeds a day aswell but he has cut down dramatically. He used to be feeding every couple of hours at the very least. At this stage, babies are meant to be on around 4 feeds a day. Kieron is on more than that though so you have to go on what your baby is asking for.
His current routine (7 months) is:
6.30 breastfeed then baby porridge made with live yoghurt and some fruit puree
11.30 breastfeed then fruit and vegetable puree
4.30 breastfeed then pulse, cheese, pasta and vegetable puree
He has a few more breastfeeds throughout the day and he still feeds at least once on a night. We keep trying with water but he doesn't seem interested yet. It is very important to keep offering though. I give him water in a beaker with every meal.
In a few weeks, he will be 8 months and then it is recommended that he be eating more independently, so a lot more finger foods. It is still advised to offer three meals a day and four breastfeeds, aswell as water with every meal, but I am sure Kieron will still be on more feeds than that. I am planning on making breakfast a finger food meal. He can have toast fingers, porridge fingers and fruit quite easily. I will also be able to start offering meat mixed in with his purees. Hopefully he will learn to sit up properly soon because I think that will help him not gag so much when he feeds himself. The main problem I have with finger foods is fear that he is going to choke and being able to sit up properly greatly reduces that risk!
I actually forgot how stressful weaning a baby is, but the best tip I can give is just don't get too hung up on the rules and do what is right for you and your baby. Try and stay happy and relaxed because if you're stressed trying to feed him, he will know and he will associate being stressed with eating, something you definitely don't want!