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My daughter, Meadow, is a very happy 5-and-a-bit month old. Being child number 3, I have found myself not looking forward to the inevitable – that is weaning in the coming weeks. Meal times will tend to clash with the school and pre-school runs, and as a fan of routines, I like to have control of timings. I realise, however, that weaning is one of those things that is perhaps most effectively led by the baby and what fits in with our current routine. Afterall, all babies are different, and all families are different.
Meadow is 23 weeks old today, and had her first try in her new highchair at lunchtime. We decided to buy Ikea’s ‘antilop’ highchair, as it is wipeclean, compact, neutral and looked a good shape for comfort. The cost was also a bonus at only £16! She seemed quite comfortable sitting in it, and she was able to watch her older sister and me eat our lunch with great interest.
There are lots of traditional ‘signs’ that a baby may be ready for weaning. Their growth may slow, they may feed more frequently and wake for feeds in the night where they have previously slept through. They may show great interest in watching you eat, and try to grab food off your plate. However the true signs that a baby is ready to start weaning are when the following three signs all happen together:
1. They are able to sit up (supported)
2. They are able to coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth to see the food, pick up the food, and put it in their mouth
3. They lose the tongue thrust reflex – the baby is able to swallow food
These 3 signs all happen together around 6 months. ‘Baby led weaning’ – where the baby feeds themselves (they are not spoon fed but they pick up the food themselves) and sets the pace of their eating, can begin once these 3 signs are present. Many mums decide to wean earlier than this for various reasons. Weaning before these signs are all present will require using the traditional pureed foods method (once the signs are present though, moving on to finger foods in addition to pureed foods is recommended). The British Dietetic Association recommends that weaning begins by 6 months but not before 17 weeks. With Meadow, I intend to wait until these 3 signs are all present before beginning weaning, or wait until she is 6 months old (26 weeks) – whichever is sooner.
At some point during the coming week, I intend to try the ‘banana challenge’. This involves putting a small banana or piece of root vegetable on her tray and assessing what she does with it. I will of course post pictures of the successes or failures of this in due course! I also received in the post today my newest kitchen gadget… a crinkle cutter. I intend to use this for making chunky chip-sized pieces of fruits and vegetables which have a crinkled edge. This should make it easier for her to grip the food. Let the fun (and mess) begin!…