Miriam in conversation about Weaning, with dietician Bianca Parau
I gave birth to my second baby George last Summer (2018) and towards the end of the year I started to think about food. George is a big baby and our paediatrician had recommended, at one of his routine checkups, that he start weaning. As many of you will know I began Mimi’s Bowl because the experience of weaning with my daughter had left me anxious and overwhelmed: feelings I describe as “babyfood panic”. A panic about how to feed your baby and what to feed your baby. I started blogging about my experiences, as I just couldn’t relate to so much of the weaning literature out there. Complicated recipes, with long lists of ingredients, mostly out of season. Consistently recipes combined sweet and savoury flavours: at best the results looked unappealing and at worst they tasted awful: this was not how I wanted to feed my baby daughter.
Having written about baby and toddler food for close to two years I now have to take a leaf out of my own book and embrace this next baby eating adventure. Can I live by the cooking principles I have been sharing? I want my experience to be different: simple and (dare I say it even…) enjoyable.
So, at the very start of my journey, which I will be sharing through Mimi’s Bowl, I sat down in my kitchen with paediatric dietician Bianca Parau. I asked her lots and lots of questions. Everything on my mind and the questions I know are on so many parents minds: as they are the questions I get asked again and again through Mimi’s Bowl. Bianca was able to offer her professional perspective and some really practical advice, which I hope will make starting solids seem so much more straight forward.
If you are starting on your own baby eating adventure, or if you know someone else who is, please share this with them.
Lets end “babyfood panic” for good.
why does starting solid foods
with my baby, seem so complicated?
I felt overwhelmed as a parent when I started solid foods with my daughter, here I talk to Bianca about feeling overwhelmed. Bianca advises that no two babies are the same and to take an approach that suits you and your baby. Making comparisons with other babies and friends only adds to the panic.
For any concerns or food related queries, always speak to your health care advisor.
Signs your baby is ready to start solid foods?
this is What Bianca had to say…
Bianca and I recently co-wrote a blog post together on signs your baby might be ready to start solids, which is worth a read
I am also linking the NHS guidelines for starting solid foods, these are incredibly useful
Another new book I have been reading and can thoroughly recommend is: Baby Food Matters by Dr Clare Llewellyn & Dr Hayley Syrad
the kit list: keep it simple
Another hurdle for parents is all the kit you are told you need when you start weaning. This is simply not true and in my experience the more complicated the equipment the more washing up there is! I loved Bianca’s like-minded approach which is to keep the kit list simple. A stick blender and a basket steamer will get you pretty far along. Here is a blog post I worked on recently with some of the kitchen tools I find useful and use in my own kitchen!
‘sometimes its easier to just know the foods to avoid’
I felt incredibly “panicked” about what my baby could and couldn’t eat. It is complicated and different foods can be introduced at different stages. ALL of this depends on when you start solid foods, with your baby. What I did find really helpful was knowing the foods to avoid completely.
getting started: top tips
It is always useful to have some tips on how to get started. Sometimes just getting going is the problem and it’s important to take the advice of your health care advisor and not delay the process. Food is a key source of nutrition for babies after 6 months. From first foods to try, to sweet versus savoury flavours, Bianca gives all her top weaning tips. I share some practical ideas for parents too. My key takeaway was that from 6 months+ onwards sources of iron and protein are really important, depending on when you started weaning your baby onto solids. I’ll be writing more about this soon.
milk before food? or food before milk?
Milk before food, or food before milk? This is the question I get asked most at Mimi’s Bowl, especially when parents are starting solids and milk is the primary source of nutrition.
I couldn’t not ask Bianca her advice, here is what she has to say…
I wanted to also add that all babies are so different, my experiences weaning first and second time round, between both my own children, could not have been more different. What works for one baby may not work for another, so find out what works best for you and your baby.
baby food with texture
Why is texture important? Bianca advises that delaying texture and sticking with smooth purees can create fussy eating habits. Here we talk about how to start adding texture into your baby eating plan. Including some first finger foods to try, including one of my favourites: root veggie chips*
*always supervise eating to minimise choking risks
how to keep your baby progressing
During our catch up, Bianca and I briefly touched on fussy eaters during our chat and I know that all parents are keen to avoid food becoming a battle ground. It was really interesting to get Bianca’s thoughts; as she is working with clients who are facing challenges in their baby eating journey. There is a lot more to talk about here, but we will try and write a more comprehensive blog on this. What I would say is that if you are having problems, get the advise of your health care advisor as soon as possible. In the meantime, watch this footage for some more of Bianca’s advise on how to keep your baby progressing happily in their baby eating adventure.
This blog post was written in conjunction with paediatric dietitian Bianca Parau. Bianca offers expert advice and nutritional guidance to children and their families. Her NHS clinical role at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital includes a specialist multidisciplinary feeding clinic, for children with eating problems, often resulting from a history of gastrointestinal problems and food allergy.
For any questions, or queries regarding baby eating, please feel free to contact Bianca via her website.