Fig has been trying solid food properly for about ten days now. By properly, I mean in a more organised and concerted way than we were doing when we started. He was pre-six-months then, so it was just a case of putting a few cucumber sticks in front of him every now and again and seeing what he did with them. Actually, that was really useful, because it gave him practice in picking up sticks of food, and he’s now a bit of an expert on that front. But we’ve been consciously doing a mixture of baby-led weaning and traditional spoon fed mush, and Fig’s really getting into it now.
Baby-led weaning makes so much sense to me, but when we started giving Fig sticks of food, we found two things – either he just sucked the sticks, if they were hard, so wasn’t actually eating anything, or the sticks of food were so slippery he couldn’t hold them. When this happened with banana, I just did what felt right – I got a fork and mushed it up, put it on a spoon and gave him the spoon. He’d already had a spoon as a toy for a few weeks, so he soon figured out what to do with it, even if he didn’t always manage to get it in his moof first go.
Anyway, upshot was he loved it, and he actually did eat a bit. It was flippin’ messy though, I won’t lie. Particularly when he discovered the fun of smearing what was on the spoon onto his bib and then licking it off…
Anyway, as we’ve gone on, we’ve started to get into a rhythm and a routine. I’ve read and absorbed Gill Rapley’s Bab-led Weaning book, and I’m blending it with Annabel Karmel’s Baby and Toddler Meal Planner, which is great for suggesting first foods and when to give them. So what I’ve done is used AK’s ideas, but rather than pureeing the foods she suggests, I’ve roughly mashed them, and given Fig sticks (raw or steamed) of the same food too, so that he can pick up the food with his fingers and suck it or chew it, but also have some on a spoon to eat.
He also sits at the table watching me prepare the food, so he sees, for example, what an apple looks like, then what it’s like raw in sticks, and then stewed. He’s experiencing the same food with different textures, and I feel like this is a good grounding in what food is and how it can be prepared in many ways. I then freeze a couple of pots of the mashed food, so that I have them for emergencies.
So what’s our routine? First, plastic party tablecloth on the floor under the highchair. Clean the high chair tray and wipe Fig’s paws with a baby wipe. Long sleeved bib on (I cannot recommend this enough. It’s this or go naked, which we’ve also done, but at the moment, Fig has awful eczema and he scratches himself if he’s topless, so these bibs are a godsend. If you get towelling ones, make sure they have a plastic back). Give him the foodstuff in stick form. See how he gets on with it. When he’s bored or frustrated with the sticks, give him mush on a spoon. He wolfs this, but soon lets me know when he’s had enough and is ready to go play at something else.
One handy little utensil I’ve got is the AK masher and bowl. I’ve not found I need a mouli, or a liquidiser (yet, but I do want to start making my own smoothies for Fig in a few weeks), and this is great for quickly and roughly mushing stuff.
I also love the little plastic spoon we were given that has a flat end so that I can put food on both ends and it doesn’t matter which end Fig puts in his moof. The end is also slightly flatter than than the bowl of the spoon, and he finds it easier to eat from.
And that’s it. At the moment, we just have a single fruit or veg each day (I get them from a local greengrocer rather than a supermarket because they have so much more flavour), and we have it at lunchtime about halfway between milk feeds, so he’s neither hungry nor full up. Foods tasted so far: carrot, sweet potato, apple, pear, butternut squash, banana, mango. Fave food? Mango, with banana a close second. Most meh food? Carrot. What are we having tomorrow? Carrot. Meh.