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7 mistakes parents often make when weaning

If your baby is coming up to weaning age, you might be wondering where to start. Which flavours will your child feel drawn towards, and which will they spit out? Should you wear a smile or a raincoat? Is it best to start with fruit or vegetables, invest in a gallon of baby rice, choose baby-led weaning, or just throw your hands up in the air and admit you don’t have a clue?

Try to cook from scratch when possible

Whatever your starting point, I think it’s a great idea to cook from scratch when weaning. Having had trouble with breastfeeding, I found that cooking pots of stews and sauces and making hummus delivered a different – but just as welcome – opportunity to bond with each of my three babies.

A saucepan bubbling away on the stove felt very soothing. These were freshly prepared ingredients with zero additives, full of flavour, and all prepared by hand, specifically to nourish my baby’s growing body.

The weaning experience also taught me a lot about cooking – I learnt how to make my own stock for a start. And I emerged from it with some wonderful recipes, like a mean tomato sauce, that I still use today with my kids, now aged eight, six and three.

I’m no angel, and I did use ready-prepared pouches when we were out and about for my younger two – it really was so much easier than worrying about whether your child’s lunch was quietly defrosting at the right rate in your chill bag. (Pouches weren’t around with my older one, otherwise I’d have used them too.)

But back home, I had a freezer full of delicious home-made foods for my baby. And I think all those flavours and textures have stood my kids in good stead – my older two are really good eaters now.

But I know that at first, weaning can seem daunting.

In a bid to clear up some common misperceptions, here are some of the mistakes that parents commonly make when weaning:

1. Translating a wince, frown or gag as a no

This actually doesn’t usually mean that your baby hates a food. “Even though it might look like an expression of disgust, it’s more likely to be shock or surprise at trying something new,” says Lucy Thomas, nutrition expert and founder of Mange Tout, whose classes help children to learn to like fruit and veg.

“Babies are not really born with a sense of like and dislike. Babies are born with a preference for sweet and they simply need to learn through exploration and new offerings to adjust to other flavours and textures.”

 2. Avoiding certain weaning foods or flavours – because you don’t eat them

 Just because you don’t like, say, aubergine, it doesn’t mean that your baby shouldn’t get a chance to sample that taste and texture.

“Ask yourself whether there are particular foods that you exclude without realising,” says Lucy. “Weaning is a great opportunity to explore some new flavours yourself – and you might find that your taste buds have changed too.” 

3. Constantly interrupting your baby’s meal to mop up the mess (from the floor, their hair, their clothes, all over you etc etc)

 Okay, so weaning is quite messy. Accept it, relax – and put the cloth down.

“It’s important to give babies the opportunity to touch, feel and explore food without having their hands and faces wiped every minute,” says Lucy. “If babies are allowed to squash, squeeze and smear their food, they learn more about textures, cause and effect. At some point, messy fingers covered in new flavours and textures end up in their mouths.” 

To keep things as clean as possible, she suggests donning a raincoat and covering the floor with an old shower curtain. I bought full-length bibs with arms for my baby.

broccoli4. Masking challenging tastes

Don’t blunt the flavours of stronger-tasting food by mixing them with easier ones, for example by stirring apple puree into broccoli puree.

Instead, let your baby enjoy the real taste of different vegetables without blurring them with sweet fruits, or they may struggle to accept them later on.

 

5. Giving up on a particular food after a couple of failed attempts

Nutrition experts all agree that it can take 14 to 20 tastes before a child starts enjoying a new flavour, so don’t worry if your little one refuses certain foods at first.  

6. Worrying that one failed meal = malnourished baby

 If your child just picks at their lunch or seems to exist more on air, don’t focus on one meal, but what they eat over a three-day period instead.

7. Limiting meals to same time, same place

“Molly can refuse new foods up to 10 times at home,” says Lucy. “But if I offer it to her in a different environment – for example, in the supermarket trolley or a bench in the park – and at a time when she is not over-tired or too hungry, she often surprises me and accepts it. So don’t just feed in your high chair in the kitchen. Mix it up.”

The Little Book of Weaning Organix  You can find more weaning tips in The Organix Little Book of Weaning, plus advice about whether your child is ready to start weaning and a handy weaning guide.

 It is available free to download at: www.organix.com/littlebookofweaning

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all views are my own.

Read more:

My toddler doesn’t eat enough: part 2
10 mistakes parents make when brushing their child’s teeth
The Organix #NoJunk Challenge
My child doesn’t eat enough: 8 tips for fussy eating


Comments (22)

  • Avatar

    Nell@PigeonPairandMe

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    My two would always eat more when having tea at a friend’s house than they did at home! Unless their friend was a fussy eater, in which case they’d copy and refuse the meal too :-) some great tips here, especially the one about mess. We always ended up with food splashed up the walls!

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    Jen aka The Mad House

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    I was so lucky with my boys they pretty much ate everything as long as it was paired with pair of parsnip and my family used to joke that they would turn orange due to the amount of sweet potato I fed them!

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    You Baby Me Mummy

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    Great tips! We have a fussy eater and it is a constant headache x

  • Avatar

    Ryan Costello

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    Good tips. I agree that it takes patience and you have to battle through some of the desire to want to clean midmeal, give up or avoid certain flavours.

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    Rachel

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    I was always told I had to try something before saying I didnt like it, was never made to sit there until it was eaten, but if I refused to eat whatever it was, I got no sweets or treats x

  • Avatar

    mellissa williams

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    Great tips for weaning. Number 2 is very important I think especially. Just because you don’t eat a food shouldn’t mean your child doesn’t get to try it.

  • Avatar

    Louisa

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    Some very sensible advice. I remember being baffled by weaning, with every child the guidelines had changed. In the end I followed my own path and enjoyed it as a learning experience for us all.

  • Avatar

    Mina Joshi

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    Such good points made about weaning children. It taught me to enjoy cooking, It is hard work though and I am so glad mine have grown up.

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    VaiChin @RamblingThroughParenthood

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    Very useful tips here. I cooked most of J’s weaning foods at home and kept the flavours true and separate. Made a huge difference to his palate, I think.

  • Avatar

    nessjibberjabberuk

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    I used to love concocting new stuff for my children to try. I once gave my daughter a jar when we went away for a night and it went straight through her!

  • Avatar

    Lori

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    I could definitely done with reading more when I was weaning my son. Thankfully we’re way past all that and he has rather an adventurous palette. x

  • Avatar

    Polly

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    great tips . I loved making food for my girls when they were weaning, looking forward to doing the same for little man next year

  • Avatar

    Globalmouse

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    some great tips – especially the one about just because you don’t like it…I have to force myself to give my little ones egg, which they all adore, just because I don’t!!

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    Shell Louise

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    I used shop bought jars for my son. I don’t know why, looking back, but I did. Probably because I was a single mum and it was easy and convenient for me. With my second I was married and I’d started doing a lot of cooking from scratch ( I used to use ready made foods like jars of pasta sauce for my own meals). I decided to cook my own baby food and I found that my daughter was much easier to wean than my son. He was quite a fussy eater while she ate anything. The third, another girl, was also weaned on homemade food and she’s never been a fussy eater either. It could be coincidence of course but I do believe they both ate better because they had homemade food with no crap in it!

  • Avatar

    wendy

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    Very useful tips

  • Avatar

    Fritha Strickland

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    we did baby led weaning which was great as I was still breastfeeding and not too concerned if he actually got much in or not.Was so messy though! x

  • Avatar

    Kara

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    Some great advice there, I am so pleased we are passed this stage now

  • Avatar

    Sharon Powell

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    Great tips! As a parent to a 13,12 and 2 year old I was nodding along to every one x

  • Avatar

    Carolynne @ Mummy Endeavours

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    Well I’m way past the weaning stage but these tips are great. I wish I’d done more cooking from scratch for mine. I did some but I didn’t experiment as much as I could have

  • Avatar

    Helen @ Witty Hoots

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    I loved the weaning stage – we were mainly baby led which my daughter loved from the start.

  • Avatar

    ninjacat

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    What a great and informative post

Comments are closed