On weaning, feeding, and teaching my daughter to love food

August 22, 2012

Baby weaning

Thinking back to my childhood, my brothers and I were notoriously picky eaters. One of us would only eat mashed potato with salad cream, one wouldn’t touch anything which had bits in it, and there was a particularly traumatic incident involving some fish that my parents still regularly bring up now. So when it came to weaning Eliza at six months, I have to admit I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. As I’d been such a difficult eater I figured I was due a large dose of karmic fussiness and also, breastfeeding is so convenient and doesn’t require any steaming, sterilising or spoons.

To prepare, I took a whole load of books about both pureeing and baby-lead weaning out of the library the month before, skimmed through each one and them promptly forgot about them. Cue a lecture from the librarian and a £7 in late fines, oops. In the end – after some proper re-reading and discussion – we decided to take elements from both approaches and just run with whatever seemed to work best for the baby.

I was determined not to get stressed if Eliza didn’t like something or wasn’t particularly interested in food at first. After all, I eat everything now, and have no problem with either bits or fish. I was and am so keen for her not to pick up any negative feelings or thoughts about food, especially for later on in life when she reaches the tricky teenage years. I want to make sure eating is something that she views as normal and fun where nothing – within reason! – is naughty or forbidden (I’m sure everyone went to infant school with a classmate who wasn’t allowed any sugar or sweets at home, who would eat them all at birthday parties then run around screaming for two hours).

So after a slow and slightly anticlimatic start with some baby rice – her first mouthful dribbled right back out – it’s going much, much better than I’d anticipated. We started off with smoother mashed food which she was fine with, especially when she could grab the spoon and feed herself. She’s now gumming down lumpier textures and seems to love the independence of the baby-led approach, so that’s what we’re doing more of at the moment.

I encourage her to play with her food as much as possible and I don’t even really mind the mess. So far it’s been a huge amount of fun, especially as Eliza seems to be enjoying it. And I can’t ask for more than that.

P.S. – if you have any good suggestions for baby-friendly food that’s worked for you, let me know!

Baby weaning



  • Eleanor

    August 23, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Hi Gill,

    My good friend Fran is something of a whizz at baby recipes and weaning (lots of practice) http://francescad.hubpages.com/ so your readers might be interested in some of her tips and recipes.

    My sister is at the same stage as you and has found them helpful, anyway.

    ps Eliza is mega-cute!

    1. gillian

      August 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Hello! Thank you 🙂 Ahhh this looks so useful, thanks so much. Really interesting that all her babies have liked spicier food and curry – I wouldn’t have thought to try these, but I guess the younger you start the better. How’s your sister getting on? x

  • Selina

    August 23, 2012 at 7:36 am

    You seem to have the right approach! With Emilia, I spent ages making her her own little pots of veg and fruit and other things when all she wanted was to eat what we were having. In the end, I just mashed her up whatever we had and have done the same from the start with Marianne. There’s no need to modify anything (unless you’re making curry or chilli!) and they get to feel included. We always (well, as often as possible) eat at the table so they can see that eating is normal, how to hold a knife and fork, have a conversation, practice saying please and thank you!

    Don’t worry as well if she goes through phases where she suddenly won’t eat things she wolfed down before. Every kid goes through it. Sometimes it lasts a few months, others it’s for life! And don’t worry if she won’t eat anything. She won’t starve so don’t break your back making her endless meals. I know one mother who fell into this trap and she regularly cooks up to five different meals a night to cater for her family which is not only insane but makes her miserable.

    1. gillian

      August 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      Making that many different meals must be a complete nightmare, I want to avoid that at all costs! Eliza eating what we’re having is ideal really (and so much less effort). Love the suggestion to all eat together where possible, I do try in the week but will make sure we all sit down at the same time at weekends too. Thanks so much for the advice, it’s brilliant reading it from people who’ve been through it – sometimes books can seem a bit clinical and abstract x.

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  • Mari

    August 25, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I had twins to feed so I looked for the easiest foods to serve.
    Pasta has always gone down well with various sauces but they tend to prefer tomato based sauces. I would boil vegetables until soft and let them feed themselves – messy but now they will eat all veg.
    As reserves I always kept a tub of Cheerios in my bag as they can finger feed them too and raisins.
    As they grew and became more proficient I included more fresh fruit cut small and bits of ham and cheese.
    I find they will go off a certain food for no apparent reason I can see so I wait a few months and offer it again in the hope the second attempt might work.
    We also sit and eat as often as we can with them and when they hit the Terrible Two stage, we would ummm and arrr about how delicious our food was and they would soon fall for it and eat too 😉

    1. gillian

      August 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      This is all brilliant advice, thank you so much. We tried pasta today and it seemed to go down well – she liked gripping the pieces in her hand – so much mess though, I’m trying not to let it bother me! It’s funny about the going off food – some days she wolfs certain foods down and other days she’s really not that bothered. All a learning curve! x

  • Emma

    August 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

    All the signs look promising to me, and your enthusiasm is infectious! 🙂 My only advice would be, if she doesn’t like something, don’t be worried about giving it to her again, it can take up to 20 attempts for a new food to be accepted apparently! Have you tried her with avocados yet? I always had one in my bag with a spoon, easy on the go food! 🙂 Emma (found you through BritMums My Best Post)

    1. gillian

      August 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      20 attempts? Wow! Not yet tried avocados with her – I used to love them and eat about one a day, but they were the only food I completely went off when I was pregnant, and they still make me feel a bit odd now for some reason! Easy on-the-go food sounds great though, so I will bite the bullet and try 🙂

  • Sarah

    August 25, 2012 at 8:08 am

    What a great post and what a healthy attitude to food and weaning! My kids are 11, 8 and 6 and the eldest and youngest are a nightmare! Funnily enough, I only posted about it on my blog the other day http://www.mumofthreeworld.blogspot.com I found you through Britmums MBPW by the way!

    1. gillian

      August 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you for the comment! Look forward to reading your blog too :-). Interesting that your eldest and youngest are difficult – but the middle one is a better eater? I think me and both my brothers were very fussy, but it must have changed at some point as we all eat anything now! x

  • WallyMummy

    August 25, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I found weaning such a frustrating process to start off 😉 My L/O is 8 months now and I’ve found if I puree something to spoon feed her at the same time as giving her whole foods to chew on that seems to work for me! I also give her lots of finger foods while we’re out from what I’m eating. I take baby rice cakes and just pass her one with a bit of my food on – cheese, houmous, salad whatever and that seems to work well. The mess is quite fowl though. I’ve been put off food a fair bit… (and have blogged extensively about the funny side of it!) so hopefully will start to get thin soon – which would be a welcome side effect lol xxx good luck with it xxx

    1. gillian

      August 29, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      I will check your posts out! Rice cakes are a great idea – we tried one today and it was a hit. Know what you mean about the mess, I’m trying not to notice it though (eeek) x

  • Bestof2sisters

    August 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Sounds like you are doing a brilliant job! Keep up the good work. My one year old is a fussy eater (understatement), although she got the same weaning treatment as her two older sisters… Who are cool with food… So I guess it all depends on the baby!

    We just wrote two posts about weaning/ kids and food on our site (my sister and i write our site together) similar reflections as you are having.

    1. gillian

      August 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Thank you! That’s so interesting about your youngest – really shows that it depends on the baby, doesn’t it?! I will check your site and posts out now, I need all the help I can get 🙂

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