We're onto solids lads, well kinda. We've started incorporating solids via baby led weaning. First impressions, feckin messy. Baby Led weaning if you're not familiar with it, is when you allow your baby to choose what they eat. They then feed themselves solid foods instead of spoon-feeding.
As you might imagine for a baby, feeding themselves is new and more often than not. They miss their mouth, hit their face and generally catapult food everywhere.
Now with baby led weaning, choosing what they eat, it isn't a case of Erin chucking items down on the shopping list she might fancy.
"Jaysus Dad, I'd murder a Strawberry Pop-Tart. Will ya pick me up some?".
There's a little more behind it. The general gist is, as I've mentioned above, they feed themselves while learning the mechanics of feeding themselves either by hand or a spoon and it also makes them curious about food. It's meant to negate the 'picky eater' toddler you might get down the line.
Baby Led Weaning Basics
By no means am I an expert in this field. I'm just sharing what Ruth and myself are doing. Essentially with baby led weaning and in a nutshell, the baby eats what you're eating. Just a blander, less choking hazard version ie. no spices, salt, bones etc.
For example, should you fancy a Roast Chicken dinner? You simply cook the chicken without salt but some olive oil is ok. Serve them just the breast no skin. Boil the potatoes in water for mash, then when it's time to mash the potatoes, put some aside for baby which is plain and the rest you can season as you wish for you and your partner. Vegetables are simple, just boil them but do give them a bit longer.
Nothing fancy I might add but this is just an example.
A few things to note is to obviously let the food cool down so it doesn't burn your baby's hands or mouth. Cut the chicken and vegetables into big long strips as it makes it easier for them to grab, larger pieces means less chance of it being a choking hazard, have some cooled boiled water in a sippy cup (helps them swallow plus I'm told it helps prevent constipation) and lastly be prepared to demonstrate the most elaborate way of eating to your baby.
You'll sit in front of them and for the first time in maybe 30 years, you chew with your mouth open to show them how it's done. I even pick up whatever Erin is eating, like a carrot, so she sees me eating it with my hand. While all this is happening you and your other half are making eating noises and sounds that suggest that this is the greatest roast chicken you've ever had or that ye have some sort of food fetish.
Thank god my wife is a good cook so I don't have to fake it... "Hmmm...tastes good!" (Friends reference).
Now the goal of baby led weaning isn't for them to clear the plate of food each and every sitting. A baby will still need milk until their at least a year old. Now some foods are easier like porridge, mash or purees to eat because well Erin is still all gums bar a little tooth we can feel about to surface. These softer foods are great as she actually eats solids. However, the overall goal is for them to try different foods, eat some of them and learn the mechanics.
Types of Food
Now we're just at the beginning of this but I thought it might useful to see what foods we're feeding Erin. Can't beat a good list. Might help someone out there who's about to head off for the shopping.
Milupa Baby Porridge (Which in my opinion could be used as a substitute to cement when it hardens, you'd be scrubbing the baby bowl for ages)
Eggs (I talk more about this one later)
Chickpeas for Hummus. Erin loves Hummus!
Bread, well toast technically
Kiddylicious Wafers (Banana & Blueberry flavour, very handy when on the go).
Tomatoes (for bolognese sauce)
Garlic (small amount)
Peanut butter (Yet to give this, but it's in the cupboard).
This is just a selection, well it's what I can think of, but it's enough to get ya started.
Fears of Allergies
In general, you find out you're allergic to something by either coming in contact with it or ingesting it. High on the list of food allergens is Egg and Peanuts. Now there are more like Cow's milk but these two are ones we've tackled and are still fearful to introduce.
So we've given Erin egg and I'm happy to announce, no reaction. Well other than a face that says what in the blue Jesus am I eating.
We started off with just egg white as the yolk contains more allergens, then introduced the yolk in an omelette while bracing ourselves for the worst as first time parents do.
Thankfully, again no reaction, other than a look of bemusement from Erin as she wolfed her little omelette down. Also, having no reaction to eggs also allows us to make pancakes. Which Erin is a massive fan of.
Egg allergy symptoms in case you're wondering can be coughing, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhoea and a rash on their cheeks. Nothing too scary but nonetheless you're hoping they don't have a reaction so you don't have to limit a food group in cooking etc.
Peanuts on the other hand... well... Anaphylactic shock jumps straight to the forefront of your mind along with stabbing someone in the chest with an epi-pen.
We've yet to introduce peanuts, well peanut butter, to Erin as we're a bit nervous and a close seasoned Mom friend said to not have any plans the day you do introduce peanut butter in case a mad dash to CUMH is needed.
The plan is to introduce peanut butter in the coming days and it's been suggested to add it with yoghurt or ricotta in a small quantity in the beginning. So fingers crossed all goes well but I do have some peace of mind that she'll probably be ok as neither Ruth nor myself have a peanut allergy and no one in our immediate family does either.
But still, it will be squeaky bum time when Erin tastes peanut butter for the first time.
Baby Led Weaning is Messy
In fact, baby's, in general, are just messy. If you're an OCD neat freak perhaps having a baby may not be for you. They just mess everything up and when you give them food, well they have an incredible gift of getting the food into places you only thought possible in fiction.
Anyway, weaning or baby led weaning is messy even with all the bibs, special bowls etc. and from what I've read it looks like being this way for quite some time. Invest in some good bibs to help at least stop the food going down their top, Nuby plates that don't slip or come off the high chair easily and use my trick. Always feed your baby in an outfit that's already dirty, ie. leave them in the vest they slept in for breakfast, let it get destroyed and when you're done pop it into the wash, it was going there anyway.
You can get big bibs that wrap around the high chair but I haven't picked up one yet. Along with the Nuby plates which I highly recommend, we have these ClevaMama food tasting dummies. They let you put food inside them and it lets your little one try new foods or flavours without fear of them swallowing anything or choking. They're class. Check them out below.
Indie is loving Baby Led Weaning
Erin isn't the only one benefitting from baby led weaning. So too is Indie. You should see her eyes light up when food falls onto the floor. Or when myself or Ruth goes "Hmmm" in an attempt to get Erin more interested in whatever is on the menu.
It's like Christmas has come early. (In the voice I have for Indie and we all have a voice for our dogs that we think they'd sound like if they actually spoke to us).
"The little hooman is showering me with hooman food. I like her, I think we'll keep her around".
Now, I've Indie well trained that she stays in bed while we're feeding Erin. The reason for this is simply we don't want Indie hovering around the food eating every scrap because one it's a bad habit, two she could eat something that could make her sick and three we don't want her thinking she could get food from Erin.
When we're all done with the meal, have cleaned up and there are a few little bits left that are dog friendly. I let our very furry rumba clean up the mess.
Word of warning on this, (my other half is a veterinary nurse), if you let your dog eat the scraps all the time, he/she could put on weight and also as I mentioned should they eat something poisonous to dogs it could make them very ill.
The Washing Machine is on the go 24/7
I thought I was washing Erin clothes a lot, then we started weaning and it's safe the say the washing machine cannot keep up with the rate of vests, tops, trousers and babygrows Erin is going through.
I feel like I need to treat the washing machine to a day off or something? Maybe a fancy Calgon tablet?
Batch Cooking and any baby led weaning tips?
Finally, it's not long until Ruth goes back to work. So, we'll be starting to batch cooking meals for the working week for Erin. Just so we don't have to worry about cooking after work or coming in from work and cooking on top of everything else.
I'll keep you posted on how that goes and will post the meals on my social media. Or rob them off my wife's page.
Now, if you have any baby led weaning tips, tricks or recipes please leave them in the comment section below. I do read them.
Also, other people read this so you could be helping out another regular Dad or Mom.