Later this week my baby girl turns two. Two! How did this happen? Where has that time gone?!
I look back on the past two years and realise how I have done things so differently this time round. In some ways, it almost feels like I have been I have been treading this path of motherhood for the first time again.
With my older girls, I was back to work within six to 12 months of them being born. They went to daycare and completed their preschool years in this setting before heading into primary school. But with my baby girl, I have been a full time stay at home mum needing to discover play groups and considering when might be the best age to start her at three-year-old kinder.
I haven’t rushed into swimming lessons and other activities like I did with my older girls. I’m just letting time be, enjoying what is going on around us, enjoying these moments … because as corny and cliché as it sounds, time really does go by so very fast. Just the idea of my youngest turning two makes me realise just how fast!
One area I really did do differently this time round was how I started feeding Miss 1 solids when she was old enough.
While I began with baby rice cereal and purees at around the age of six months, it wasn’t long before she was being handed a toast finger for breakfast in the morning which she would happily munching away on in her high chair while I got on with helping her older sisters ready for school.
It honestly felt so right for me at the time and, as the third child in the family, it fitted in really well with our family life.
I packed away the blender and the ice trays full of fruit and vegetable purees as it became clear that it was so much easier just to share what we were already eating as a family with her.
Instead of making separate meals, I simply gave her the same thing, or a version of, what we were having for breakfast, lunch or dinner, allowing her to play with her food and feed herself.
She would quite happily eat steamed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots or soft fruits and vegetables such as banana, rockmelon, watermelon. Chunks of boiled potatoes or pasta were also a favourite.
When she was teething, she absolutely loved cold sticks of cucumber as they must have given her some cooling relief on her sore gums. She would suck and munch away on the soft flesh while leaving the skin behind.
It was so lovely for all of us to sit down and enjoy our meal times together, instead of feeding my baby first then eating a cold dinner or gulping my meal down in a rush.
It wasn’t until later that I realised there was an actual term for this type of feeding called ‘baby led weaning’.
The only downside is that it does come with a bit of mess, but I honestly didn’t find this so bad and no more than what I experienced with my older girls who were fed purees and mashed meals by spoon. Although, I would definitely recommend investing in, or even make some large bibs, for your child to protect their clothes.
If plates and bowls are being tossed on the floor, do what I did and skip them altogether to begin with by placing food straight on to the high chair’s tray.
Try not to worry about how much your child is eating when you begin. When you first introduce solids, your little one will still be getting the majority of his or her nutrients from breastmilk or formula. So leave your concerns behind and simply offer a variety of foods at meal times when you are eating yourself and know that eventually your little one will begin enjoying their food and clearing their plate, just like you!
Some people also worry about their child choking on food when making the choice to bypass purees and mashed foods and head straight into finger foods. I personally never experienced any issues with this and I always made sure I was nearby when my little one was eating, just as I would have if I had been spoon feeding.
Hopefully this post has given you a taste of baby led weaning, but if you’re interested in finding out more there are many, many websites out there detailing how to get started or perhaps have a chat to your maternal child health nurse at your next visit.