First-time parents (and we’re including ourselves here) can often be sweetly, naively convinced that we have a grave responsibility to Make Big Decisions for the little people in our lives. And some of them are, indeed, our call – cloth vs disposable nappies, for instance. Or whether little boys should wear purple. But one of the things we spend the most time agonising over usually ends up completely out of our well-meaning hands.
Just ask any parent of a baby 4 months or older. They’ll probably tell you they’ve spent hours researching, asking health visitors and chatting to other mums about one topic: weaning. Parenthood seems to magically expand our ability to discuss the minutiae of introducing solids in great detail, to the point where we can wax eloquent on the relative merits of organic pumpkin puree vs. self-fed toast fingers until the cows come home. But that’s ignoring one tiny, but important factor: our babies.
Much to many parents’ surprise, the little person they’ve spawned often turns out to have quite decided opinions on this matter, and many a tidy mum has found her neat spoonfuls of puree ignored in favour of the myriad joys of finger-painting with pasta sauce. (Of course, there are a roughly equal number of tots who can’t be bothered with all that carefully steamed and cut up finger food, and just want to be fed like rather large baby birds, much to dad’s dismay.) And no matter what we think is best theoretically, a huge number of babies seem to want not one or the other, but some mixture of both methods (quite sensible of them, really).
The best tip in all these cases? Relax and enjoy it, and follow your baby’s lead. After all, the happier your baby is, the more fun this whole process will be, and that’s sort of the point, right?
Other good concepts to keep in mind:
- New is good. Yes, your baby might pull some very funny faces at times (keep that camera handy!) but at this age, encountering new flavours is really what it’s all about. After all, the more healthy new foods your baby gets used to now, the healthier his diet is likely to be later on, when he’s the one choosing what to eat.
- Savoury is even better. Yes, babies have a natural preference for sweet tastes, but offering them true savoury flavours early on is key to building a healthy diet that will last a lifetime. So don’t mix everything with tonnes of apple (and try to steer clear of prepared baby foods that do the same – read the labels if you’re not sure!)
- Be persistent but not pushy. Most babies will find at least a few new tastes quite challenging, and they may refuse them altogether, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Don’t push – it’s never a good idea to force a baby to eat – but do make sure to try it again another day. And another, and another if you need to – it can take up to 10 tries for babies to accept a new flavour. Keep at it – it’s worth it in the end. Trust us.
- Get comfortable with your inner clown. We all know about the old ‘airplane into the hangar’ trick, but other highjinks can work just as well, from dancing along to the radio to making funny faces in between bites. Rule of thumb: if it works, do it. (Just make sure your partner’s not lurking nearby with the video camera.)
Last but not least, enjoy yourself! (And always get porridge out of your hair before it sets – it’s impossible to comb out later!)
Did you have your heart set on a weaning plan, only to find your baby had other ideas? Tell us all about it, and we might feature you on our Facebook page!
These experienced mums have been there, done that, and successfully scrubbed the pumpkin off the walls afterward… when we asked them for their top weaning tips, here’s what they had to say:
1. “I wish I’d known how messy it would be – we wouldn’t have bothered with bibs, we’d have just sat him down naked to eat!” - Alex
Naked eating… check.
2. “Sometimes the expensive highchairs aren’t the best. We were lent a really good high chair, but food got in every bit of it. Eventually we got an IKEA one, which is easy to wipe clean and take away with us.” - Nicola
Ahh, we knew cheap was good. Now, on to the heaving and retching bit…
3. “Let them put the lumps into their own mouth to start, that way you overcome the gagging. It also helps if you eat with them, making exaggerated chewing motions so they know what to do.” - Elizabeth
One mum’s rationalisation for dog ownership:
4. “It takes longer than you ever imagined to establish a feeding routine. Don’t worry about the mess; invest in a Labrador, as they like to hoover anything up! Oh, and don’t beat yourself up if they refuse food you made, the pouches are great. I came to the conclusion that store-bought food is better than no food!” - Caroline
An important anatomy tip you might not have picked up in school:
5. “It will be messy, and there will be days where you both end up wearing more of the food than was actually eaten. Spaghetti has a habit of coming out of nostrils when your little one sneezes – it happened to us, and it took me a while to work out what it was!” - Alison
And yet more about sneezing (a very important aspect of weaning, it appears):
6. “If you see a sneeze coming, don’t feed ‘till it’s gone, or there will be food everywhere – and I mean everywhere – even on your glasses!” - Natasha
If your little darling won’t touch a thing, haul out the rogan josh:
7. “I wish I had known what my baby was holding out for when he spent his first 2 weeks of weaning refusing to eat my lovingly prepared sweet potato, butternut squash, parsnip, carrot – and any other vegetable I could steam and mash. In desperation, I pureed our lamb curry dinner, and he ate a huge portion. My top tip – go for flavour in their food from the outset, not just for perfect vegetable mush!” - Sarah
Peer pressure works wonders:
8. “If you have twins, have them face each other when they eat. They seem to enjoy watching each other eat, and sometimes will try new things more easily when they see the other one eating it.” - Rebecca
Don’t hurry mealtime, even if you have to get to the chemist before it closes:
9. “Give them time to eat. My little boy takes his time picking things up, eating a bit, then trying something else until he’s cleared his tray (no need for bowls or plates). He loves feeding himself right from 6 months, and loves cheesy pasta.” - Samantha
And last but certainly not least… maintain a sense of humour at all times!
10. “Yoghurt and raspberry-blowing do not mix, as I learnt today!” - Sarah
Got a top tip to share? We’d love to hear it – and we might just share it on our Facebook page!
Stage 1 pouches 6 for 5 (ends 3 June)
Stage 3 Taste Adventures £1.50 (ends 3 June)
Stage 1 pouches 5 for £4 (ends 8 July)
Stage 2 pouches – save 20% (ends 3 June)
Stage 3 Taste Adventures – save 20% (ends 3 June)
Stage 1 pouches save 1/3 (ends 20 May)
Spend £20 get £5 back across our range (ends 27 May)
Stage 1 pouches 5 for 4 (ends 20 May)
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Special Bundle Offers save you up to £5.44
The Baby Show is coming! The UK’s top parenting event will be at the NEC Birmingham on the 17-19 May, and we’ve arranged a fantastic ticket discount for our Plum parents of up to 40%! Just type PLUM into the discount code box when you buy your tickets online at http://www.thebabyshow.co.uk/, and you’ll be on your way!
Here’s just some of what you’ll see:
• Professor Robert Winston – BBC’s “Child of our Time”
• Jo Tantum – Twins and Baby Sleep Specialist
• Clare Byam-Cook – Celebrity Breastfeeding Expert
• British Red Cross First Aid Sessions – How to save your child’s life
• Amanda Jenner – How to potty train without going potty!
• Vtech Smart Play Zone
• Fisher-Price Giant Bouncer
• Fisher-Price exclusive pampering area for mums with massages and goody bags
• Free Emma’s Diary ‘Shop & Drop’ and ‘Collect-by-Car’ services
• Complimentary Fisher-Price crèche
• Private breastfeeding area including free breast pads, spoons and bibs… with FREE baby food from Plum!
Feel free to share this offer with your friends – after all, the more the merrier!
Psssst, have you heard? Asda’s legendary Baby and Toddler Event is now on in store and online – and to celebrate, they’re giving away a fabulous hamper of Plum worth £300! To be in with a chance, head over to the ASDA competition page and enter your details. Good luck, we hope you win!
While you’re there, you might also want to pick up a few huge bargains – for example, our Stage 3 Taste Adventures pots are down from £1.79 to just £1 each in Asda stores and online during the event, or you can pick up five stage 1 pouches for just £4!
If you haven’t tried Taste Adventures yet, you’re in for a treat – these recipes were created specifically to help your baby explore exciting new tastes and textures from around the world. Want to know more? ASDA recently gave some mums the chance to try the latest flavours for free – here’s what they had to say.
As part of their fabulous Baby & Toddler Event, ASDA is offering our brilliant new stage 3 Taste Adventures pots for just £1 each – a good deal by anyone’s standards! They didn’t stop there, though: here’s their Tried & Tested review…
“…we gave parents the chance to try Plum’s latest Taste Adventures flavours for free! We sent out Sweet Potato & Chicken Peri Peri pots which are exclusive to Asda, and Super Greens, Pasta & Cheese pots.
Sam Goodwin, mum of Josh, two, and Jake, 10 months, said: “The packaging saves on washing up as you can feed straight from the pot, brilliant!
“It looked and tasted great, like home-cooked baby food, and you can pick out individual flavours. It smelled great too. He seemed to really enjoy the tastes and ate almost the whole pots each time.”
Vicky Ballinger, mum to Aida, said: “Plum’s Taste Adventures went down a treat! The texture was just right for her age and it’s interesting to see the response to the new flavours I hadn’t yet introduced.
“It’s handy that they can be eaten straight from the pot as are good for taking out and about.”
These recipes have been a real hit with older babies who are ready for a bit more texture and flavour in their meals – and studies show that giving your baby a taste for lots of healthy, savoury flavours will pay off handsomely later on, when they’re choosing what to eat on their own. Why not head over to ASDA and give them a try – but hurry, the Baby Event ends May 13!
“We’ve had an exciting food day! Monty has moved on to Stage 3 food, largely because the only thing I had in my cupboard was a Plum baby food’s Taste Adventures that sounded hilariously adult – Sweet potato with Peri Peri Chicken. He loved it, though, and coped with the lumpy texture fine, although I did mash up a few extra large bits of carrot to try and make sure it was roughly all the same texture.”
Tracey, we’re completely chuffed at our success! Please do let us know if Monty continues his winning Plum streak (we recommend the sweet Cape curry with beef, personally!)
The last several years have been tough on the budget, to say the least. Families have compromised, cut back, switched brands and generally done everything possible to get by on less, to make do and mend.
Instead of impulse shopping, 90% of us now make a list and check it twice as we wander the supermarket aisles. More than 60% of us say we’re keeping a close eye out for sales these days, and nearly a quarter of us are buying more dried, tinned and frozen food than before.
As a result, our consumption of things we consider luxuries has gone down – we’ve downgraded from Champagne to buck’s fizz, and we’re foregoing steak in favour of beef shin. But despite these belt-tightening maneuvers, more and more parents are choosing organic foods for their children when they can: the market for organic baby foods has actually grown slightly during the recession.
Does this mean our kids are eating better than we are? It certainly seems to, since the rest of our national “shopping basket” is increasingly filled with ready-meals instead of fresh fruit and veg. According to Defra in its yearly “Food Pocketbook” report, the poorest households bought 14% less fruit and vegetables last year than they did in 2007.
Do you ever buy organic food just for your kids to eat? What compromises have you made in your shopping habits in the past few years?
Doing your shopping this weekend and want to save a few pence? Here’s all the info on next week’s sales!
Stage 2 pouches, Special offer £1
Stage 1 and Stage 2 pouches, 5 for the price of 4
Stage 1 pouches, 6 for the price of 5
Save 25% on Taste Adventures
Stage 2 pouches, 3 for £3
Plum online shop
Special bundle offers saving you up to £5.47, plus FREE DELIVERY on all orders over £10
Is your phone your most important bit of parenting gear? Then you’re not alone – new research from BabyCentre has found that mums are leading the way in mobile internet use, with half of all mums owning a smartphone (that’s close to twice the rate of the general population).
According to their study, after becoming a mum Internet use goes up by 45% and email usage by 31% (we think this must be due to all those baby pics we send out!) And since we don’t have time to actually sit down with a laptop, we use our smartphones. The study showed that 36% of the women surveyed bought a smartphone as a result of becoming a mum, and nearly 60% of us call it a ‘do-everything device’. (Sound familiar?)
The things we actually do with our phones change a lot after baby arrives, though – pre-baby, we voted text messaging and voice calls as the most important functions on our phones, but afterward, it’s photos and video all the way, followed by calendar and list-making apps. We also use our phones as a distraction – nearly half of us let our kids play with our phones to keep them occupied.
One of the biggest things we do with that extra online time is shopping – 62% of the mums surveyed said they preferred to do all their shopping online. It’s probably not the fun sort of shopping, though – since nearly 70% of mums said becoming a parent had changed their criteria for buying nearly everything, from clothes to cars.
Does this sound like you? How did having your baby change the time you spend online? We’d love to know!