I don’t mean weaning a baby off the boob, I mean introducing a breastfed baby to solid food while carrying on breastfeeding them at the same time.
It’s been more than a year since we first introduced Violet to solids and because I’m still breastfeeding her too I thought I’d share an update on how it’s all going because there really isn’t that much out there about weaning a breastfed baby.
In fact, most of the things I’ve learnt about weaning a breastfed baby I’ve discovered through trial (and error!) and as Violet is baby number four let’s just say there have been rather a lot of errors!
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If you’re reading this because you’re introducing a breastfed baby to solids too I thought it would be useful to share some of the things I wish I’d known, things the books just don’t tell you – like the fact that just because a baby is learning how to use their teeth doesn’t mean they’ll bite!
7 things I wish I’d been told about weaning a breastfed baby
1. Start when you’re ready
Not when the books say you should, not when the label on the packet or pouch suggests you should and definitely not when people who don’t have kids think you should. As I say in Confessions of a Crummy Mummy – The Baby Years (I can’t miss an opportunity for a shameless book plug!) start weaning when you’re ready and when they’re ready. For some that might be four months, but for others that might be seven months or more. With Bluebell and Max I remember feeling really pressured by other people – health visitors included – to start weaning them onto solid food when they were five or six months old. It was only when Marigold was born that I felt confident enough not to be hurried, and by the time Violet arrived we were in no rush to start weaning at all and she was well over seven months old before she started having regular meals. Remember that if you’re breastfeeding breastmilk contains all the calories they need.
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2. Don’t be surprised if they don’t seem very keen
If they don’t hoover up the first food you give them it doesn’t mean they’re not interested or they’re going to be a fussy eater. It just means they’re not driven by hunger so may not be very interested. And that’s totally ok! Just keep offering food at set times, let them explore and play with it, get into a routine and they’ll soon get the hang of it.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
By which I mean don’t compare yourself to other mums, and don’t compare your baby to other babies, either. Just because one of your mum friends started weaning their baby at four months old and they’ll happily tuck into a full roast dinner doesn’t mean you have to, and you’re not doing anything wrong if your baby is slower off the mark when it comes to eating full meals. As I also say in the book, you might be new to mumming and you might not have done this before but only you know what’s right for you and your baby. So don’t be tempted to compare yourself to others!
4. Things have moved on – a lot
First time around I remember cutting food into star shapes in a bid to get Bluebell to eat it – or at least try it – but now I don’t have to. Things have moved on a lot since then and there are all sorts of products on the market to help make weaning easier. Our latest find is Nana’s Manners eat + learn Silly Sausages (£2.50) which are new to Tesco and come in three different shapes – stars, triangles and circles.
We were gifted some to try out (along with Nana’s Manners cutlery which is specifically designed for different stages of weaning – if you follow me on Instagram you may already have seen them in action) and they really do help make meal times fun.
It’s not all about the fun shapes though – although they’re sausages they contain just 29% pork, but not in a bad way. The rest is hidden veg including pea protein and pea fibre along with essential amino acids, making a sausage that’s less meat and more vegetables (there are no bulking agents or suspicious looking numbers on the ingredients list either).
As a family we’re trying to eat less meat but we’re not cutting it out completely, so the Silly Sausages are a great flexitarian solution. As you can see, Violet loves them!
5. Just because they’re not eating three meals a day doesn’t mean they’re not getting enough calories
Of all the misconceptions surrounding breastfeeding ‘they must be hungry’ is the one I hate the most. The second misconception I hate the most is the idea that they’re not getting enough calories if they’re not eating three meals a day. If they’re a breastfed baby and you’re feeding them throughout the day then they’re getting all the calories they need. What’s more, breastmilk adapts to your growing baby and is constantly changing to give them all the nutrients their bodies need.
6. Lots of teeth doesn’t mean they’ll bite
First time mum me worried a lot about what would happen if I continued to breastfeed while my baby was learning to use her teeth. But here’s the thing: lots of teeth doesn’t mean they’ll bite. Even if total strangers take it upon themselves to point out how many teeth they have. Just ignore them. Of course, some babies are more bitey than others (for me that was baby number three) but it’s amazing how they instinctively know what’s food and what’s not (by which I mean boob!)
7. Crumbs in your nursing bra are an occupational hazard
And they can be annoyingly itchy too! I don’t know where they come from or how exactly they get there (I think they must migrate from Violet’s hands, cheeks and general person while she’s feeding) but they work their way in and can be decidedly itchy by the end of the day! If you have a solution please do tell me in the comments!
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Are you or have you recently weaned a breastfed baby onto solids? I’d love to hear about your experience!
We were gifted the Silly Sausages and Nana’s Manners cutlery featured in this post. As always all opinions are my own and based on our own honest experience.