Weaning Our Baby Twins
Following on from our section on Baby Led Weaning, in this post I’d like to share with you how I began the weaning process with our baby twins.
If you’ve read my last post about weaning, you’ll know that month six appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly it was time to start introducing foods to our baby twins. But where do you start? If you Google ‘weaning’ you are bombarded with so much information that if you took the time to read it all, your babies would be in their late 70s with their children having children of their own. Ummm… Sometimes there can be too much information available. So how did I approach this stage?
Using My Own Principles
Having a background in Education with a Specialism in Early Years (you can read more about this in our About Us section), I knew there were some things that I definitely wanted to happen:
- I viewed this stage as a learning experience so every time they tasted something it would be an opportunity to learn something new (whether that be what a tomato tasted like, the texture of broccoli or how to actually put food to their mouths)
- I wanted this stage to be an exciting experience for our babies
- Every meal time would have similar routines so that the babies would quickly learn what to expect every time we sat to eat a meal
- Independence to be encouraged (attempting to put food to their mouths themselves)
- Real food to be given from the start, rather than just purees (to make sure that they learnt how to chew, as well as getting them used to different textures)
- Milk feeds would continue as normal so that there would be no pressure on me or the babies to make sure they ate a substantial amount of food (food before one is just for fun)
With all of those in mind, that was when I started using what I had read about Baby Led Weaning and adapting it to make it appropriate for us.
Beginning To Wean
Pete and I were so excited when month six came around because it was time to let our babies explore food for the first time!
Wanting to establish a routine, we decided to feed our babies (six months old):
- 6am: Breakfast (before their first milk feed of the day so that they were hungry and therefore more likely to want to try the food!)
- 7am: Milk (7oz)
- 10/11am: Milk (6-7oz)
- 12pm: Lunch
- 1/2pm: Milk (6-7oz)
- 5pm: Dinner
- 6pm: Milk (6-7oz)
Of course we would be flexible with these timings, but generally this was the pattern we would follow.
I wanted to establish a routine for meal times so that the babies knew what to expect every time we sat to eat. We would put them in their highchairs, tie their bibs on, put their plates in front of them (explaining to them what they have to eat), let them try the foods (aiming for tasting the foods, if they swallowed it too – bonus!), offer them water, say ‘finish’ at the end of the meal (finishing it before they get bored or restless to avoid meal times becoming a negative experience), wipe their hands and faces (saying: ‘wash hands, wash face’ to help teach them key vocabulary) and then take them out of their highchairs. This would be the routine for breakfast and lunch and then dinner time was done in their bouncer chairs as by that time of the day they would be too tired to sit up in their highchairs. Once their core strength has developed then every meal time can done sat to the table.
As this was a new learning experience I knew the babies would need to concentrate really hard to practise their eating skills, so I would make sure there were no other distractions (no TV, radio on etc) so that their attention could be fully on the meal. I would also sit to the table with them to emphasise the ‘family time’ part of meal times.
I wanted the babies’ first tastes to be fruit and vegetables, then to move onto carbohydrates and protein. So we started with wedges of different fruits / vegetables and then progressed onto other varieties of foods. As it was their first time trying solid foods they only managed mushing the food around their fists and mouths, with little success in the actual swallowing. So I would suggest only offering a tiny amount of food to begin with to avoid overwhelming them.
The First Time!
Knowing that Beatrice and Francis would only be able to sit in their new highchairs for a very short amount of time (as they were not able to sit up unaided), I knew the best time to do this would be as soon as they woke up. This would be the time where they would have all of their energy and able to concentrate for a length of time. So, right on cue, at 5.45am the babies woke up and we began the breakfast preparations. We chose avocado as their first taste. We sliced them into wedges (leaving the skin on for extra grip) and eagerly placed it in front of the babies.
There was a delayed response as they just sat there in their big highchairs for the first time thinking ‘What is going on here? Where’s my milk?’. This is where I actually helped them to pick up the wedge and taste it (whereas strict baby-led weaning would advise you not assisting at all). Once Pete and I showed the babies what to do they started munching on the avocado wedge. Their facial expressions were the best! But we could not believe how quickly they took to it. They naturally started the chewing action and did actually swallow some! Wow!
I did not anticipate how much energy the babies would need in order to eat solid foods. They could only manage a very small amount of time in their highchairs, so we were responsive to that and made sure we finished the meal before they got too restless and bored. It’s best not to ‘wait’ until they have finished all of the food. If you find there is always a lot of food left over I would suggest cutting down the portion sizes.
Practise makes Perfect…ish
As time passes by it’s incredible to see the babies cope with a variety of textures and tastes. Remember, every meal time is a new learning experience and some will be more successful than others. Depending on how many teeth a baby has, chewing some foods can be a little tricky and therefore it may be best to wait until they have a few more teeth to tackle particular foods. Foods that have not been successful for us so far have been: lettuce (their gums couldn’t chew it), houmous (it was too thick to swallow so they ended up just gagging) and very milky porridge oats (the milk made the oats slip down their throat. Now we mash up some banana into it to help thicken it up).
What Foods Do You Give For Each Meal?
Throughout this weaning stage all we have done is provide the babies with foods that we have at home. No purée making. No baby food jars. Just food from the cupboards, fridge and homemade cooking. It doesn’t have to be extra work – just set aside a portion of what you cook for yourself and freeze it into smaller portions ready for the babies to eat. If you like to add seasoning to your cooking, just set some aside before you add it (as babies shouldn’t have salt).
Coming up soon will be a list of foods that we have given the babies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Look out for it!
What has been your experiences of weaning?