We’ve decided to start weaning Clara.
She’s 23 weeks old, 18 weeks (4 months) corrected. Whilst official guidelines say to now wait until 6 months old, you can start weaning at 4 months old if you believe it’s right for your child.
Some signs to look out for if you think your little one is ready:
- They can sit up steadily, supporting their own head
- They can choose something, grasp it, and bring it to their mouth
- They can swallow without their tongue automatically pushing back out again
If you’re interested in weaning at 4-6 months, speak to your health visitor. We have had the green light to go ahead from Clara’s gastro consultant and a dietician.
Getting the basics
You don’t need much to start weaning. A bib, baby spoons, and your choice of food: baby rice, baby purée, or a home blended vegetable.
It also helps if you have something suitable for your baby to sit up in. We don’t have a high chair yet and Clara’s Bumbo wasn’t a comfortable position for her. So we had to make do with a washing basket, two cushions, and a towel.
Baby rice or purée
I bought both Aptamil baby rice and a pouch of Ella’s Kitchen purée as I wasn’t sure what Clara would take to, if any, and I was intrigued as to the consistency of each.
First up, the baby rice. The instructions said to add 90ml of milk or water to two tablespoons of baby rice. I knew Clara wouldn’t take the lot but until I knew the right consistency, I wasn’t prepared to guess. In reality, it was almost as thin as just milk – by comparison the purée was so much thicker.
Clara has had many cocktails of medication in her time so she has already been introduced to different textures and flavours. Her tastebuds have changed – medication she used to suck from the syringe, she now tries to avoid. Omeprazol used to make her gag and choke, but now she takes it without a fuss (just a very unimpressed look on her face!)
On that basis, I wasn’t expecting much from the baby rice. It looks like wallpaper paste.
Clara was surprised at first, it tasted a bit like the milk she’s used to but clearly with a twang. However, she wasn’t saying no. We tried a few spoonfuls of baby rice but Clara just wasn’t that impressed.
So we moved onto purée.
I picked an Ella’s kitchen pouch of sweet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. It’s a super smooth texture and suitable from four months. I specifically avoided the pouches containing fruit so it wasn’t the sweetness she liked first.
Regardless, she liked it!
I lost count of how many teaspoons I offered her (maybe 8 -10?), but I stopped before she refused any. I had absolutely no idea how much she was supposed to have! Even Google didn’t tell me that. And I wasn’t expecting her to want anywhere near as much as she did.
Next time, I’ll give her as much as she wants (and I’ll count the teaspoons!). I’ll then offer her a bottle after and see how much she wants of it to fill her up. This time, she took 30ml after – 90ml less than her planned milk only feed.
The great thing about the Ella’s kitchen pouches is they last up to 48 hours once opened. So we’ve got plenty left to try again tomorrow.
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) or spoon fed?
Baby Led Weaning is a purée free, spoon free, approach to introducing solids to your baby from six months.
A benefit is food becomes fun and exploratory, a child can learn to choose, pick up, and feel different textures with different tastes.
A downside is you can’t really measure in the beginning how much your baby has consumed, particularly as in the early days it’ll mainly be licks or finger squishing. It can take longer to wean them this way, not really a problem if there’s no rush.
I’ve started weaning Clara at four months so I needed to start with purée. I like the of giving her finger food later on, but I like the controlled start, knowing she’s eating some now I can focus more on different vegetables and flavours. Along with what her gut can tolerate.
Weaning a short gut baby
We are weaning Clara as if she is a ‘normal’ baby.
We’ll introduce new foods slowly and we’ll monitor her output. Some foods may disagree with her gut, but we all experience that at times! We’ll just avoid those foods in future with Clara and we won’t push her.
Solids, even purée, will pass slower than milk through Clara’s intestines so hopefully she’ll absorb more nutrients. They’ll also thicken up her stools as her short gut means she suffers from diarrhoea every time she poos. This in turn will keep her skin in better condition on her bottom. It was for these reasons we decided to try weaning her at four months.
As she grows, she’ll likely need to eat more than most children her age to get all the nutrition she needs so it’s really important we keep feeding a fun experience for her.
Now we know she’s ready, the food adventure can begin.