It can feel like all or nothing when it's time to coax babies off milk. Our mums share their tactics
Jenny Hancock, mum to twins, Harrison and Connie, age eight months
'It only took two to three days for Connie to realise what I was doing when we started, but Harrison took a bit more persuading – he still likes us doing “the train" -I prepare all their meals from scratch. I like knowing what’s going into them, and it’s also encouraging us to eat better and for less money. For the cost of a few jars of food, I can buy carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and broccoli, or even a mixed bag of prepared vegetables to mash and freeze in ice cube trays, ready to be popped-out into bags. They both like fruit purée mixed with baby rice, milk or a rusk for variety, and roast chicken dinner purée. They’re also teething and I’ve tried dry rusks and rice cakes but they just aren’t that interested at the moment. If Harrison even has little lumps left in his purée, he still gags, so I tend to watch out for those. I’m going to start reducing the milk with their food and I’m trying to encourage them to have a drink of water with it, but I’m going to keep morning and lunchtime bottles because I think it’s quite nice for them'.
Ellie Crisell, BBC newsreader, mum to Milo, age two
'Milo stopped sleeping through at about five and a half months, and I was confused because he seemed hungry but wouldn’t take more milk. So we tried him with baby rice on the end of the teaspoon and he lapped it like a cat! I then started puréeing different exotic combinations of organic fruit and vegetables. Baby rice and baby pasta were really useful, and I did try jars of baby food but he hated them – I think I spoiled him with the homemade stuff. Friends have told me they introduced their babies to one thing at a time, but I thought “I’m just going to try everything and bring in as much variety as possible”, as he’s not at high risk from allergies. I think it’s important to teach babies that eating should be a fun and sociable thing. As my mum says, “don’t make it a battle ground”. I think sometimes new mums can be a bit too anxious, but I remember I went to a pub when Milo hadn’t been weaned for that long, with my friend and her small daughter. We were chatting away while he was in his high chair
Ching-Li Chew, mum to Jasmine, age two
‘We are vegetarians, so I focused on puréeing veg high in vitamins for Jasmine. I also blended dried apricots into her food, as they contain iron. I do this because once they stop breastfeeding there is the worry they aren’t getting enough iron. Red lentils were a good staple and I added herbs to things as I felt it helped her palette develop a bit more. Instead of steaming, I would roast things occasionally. If she doesn’t like something, I persevere and try it again and again, and suddenly she will like it. Maybe they need to get familiar with the taste before they eat it properly. Jasmine had a pelican-style bib with a scoop that was great for catching some of the food that got dropped, but you do just have to resign yourself to months of cleaning the floor! Screw-top pouches are great for convenience – we just squeezed them straight into her mouth while on the plane to Australia. It was the ultimate in laziness, but sometimes you need that. To stop her getting bored and to keep her interested in what she was eating, we would play games – I would put raspberries on the ends of her fingers, or hide food in my hands and she’d guess which one it was in. I also used to cut up the food into different shapes to make little smiley faces – but, to be honest, I think that was more for my own entertainment!’
Kate Donohue, mum to Cameron, age 15 months
‘I gave Cameron naturally baton-shaped foods, like steamed green beans and asparagus, or cauliflower and broccoli, as they had ‘handles’ to grip. I cut other soft foods into chunks big enough to hold in his fist and put easily in his mouth. At the beginning it would just end up all over the floor but for first few months you don’t worry about it, you just let them discover and explore food - and also you don’t worry so much about cutting down on their milk, you let the baby do it themselves. One thing I didn’t do is to try to let Cameron eat sticky, runny foods like porridge for babies, but I will do with our new baby which I’m expecting. With baby-led weaning I think a lot of people’s main worry is that their child will choke, but you have to have a bit of faith in the method. Cameron coped fine, so I tried not to worry too much about it. With baby-led weaning I think a lot of people’s main worry is that their child will choke, but you have to have a bit of faith in the method. Cameron coped fine, so I tried not to worry too much about it.
To read more about weaning your little one, have a look at our article Weaning your baby: first food
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