It feels like only yesterday I was sat in the hospital with my baby girl in my arms, wondering how on earth I created such a beautiful human. Fast forward to now and my little lady is growing at an exponential rate, and ready to start solids!
Feeding has never gone quite according to plan for me. We had a rocky start to life which frankly scuppered my breastfeeding plans. When Cecelia was born, after a very traumatic labour and an emergency C section we both developed an infection, and she was taken to the neonatal unit in Stepping Hill hospital for the first three days of her life. It was very hard for me to visit her as I was recovering from major surgery and unable to stand or walk, so I missed out on those crucial first feeds and as a result, she was put onto formula.
When my supply eventually came in, I began to pump as she would not latch, she was simply too used to the bottle and became very impatient with the boob as it did not flow as freely as the bottle. Unfortunately pumping wasn’t to be either, as my supply was very low. I ended up giving her a mixture of formula and breastmilk for the first three months but switched to formula only at 12 weeks as the amount of milk I was pumping was pitiful.
We had a relatively easy journey (breastmilk aside) with bottle feeding, and my hope has always been that weaning would be an equally straight forward ride.
I have to admit I did have my own worries when it comes to weaning, I worry that she will choke or get food lodged in her throat, a worry that I am sure many other parents have when it comes to solid foods. I also worried myself that I was weaning before she was ready and of course worried that I was doing it wrong, as frankly I had no idea what I was doing.
When I felt we were nearing the weaning stage, I did what I always do when I don’t know a lot about a subject – research, research, research!
I found the signs to look out for to be sure that she was ready. Is she holding her head steady? Check! Can she pick things up and put them in her mouth? Check!
The baby rice stage
After much research, I decided to start our weaning journey with some baby rice. As a first food it is easy on the tummy and all you need to do is mix it with formula or breastmilk.
I recently acquired the Graco Swiftfold highchair which I absolutely love. It is really easy to fold out and the back is adjustable, as well as the height. In fact, the first time I put Cecelia in the chair she fell asleep in it straight away. Not quite the reaction I was expecting, but it must be comfy!
I wasn’t really sure how much baby rice to give her, so I started with a spoonful of rice mixed with formula. I made it quite watery as it was her first time, and I expected her to spit it out, and have a bit of a battle the first few tries as she gets used to it. But no. she wolfed it down, and another three scoops! The baby rice was a winner. For the next week I began to give her baby rice every morning between her first and second bottle. I used the Aptimil baby rice, as I give her Aptimil formula and wanted to stick to the same brand.
I was able to get hold of some muslin snap bibs from Aden + Anais which I still use to this day, every morning at breakfast time. Cecelia has developed a habit of sucking on her silicone bibs mid feed, so the muslin bibs make feeding time a lot easier for us, especially on the days she decides she wants to be extra cheeky!
Baby rice in Cecelia's Cove Baby suction plate
Cecelia in her Aden + Anais muslin bib
Cecelia's first time trying baby rice
Cecelia asleep in her Graco highchair for the first time
Aden + Anais muslin bibs
Weaning on the go
We have had a few nights away from home recently. Taking a highchair isn’t always a good idea for us, as boot space can be limited (depending on where we are going and what we are doing) so when space is tight, I take our Bumbo multi seat. I love the Bumbo as it is so small and compact and can be strapped to any chair. The tray is also concealed nicely at the back and very easy to slot into place when you need to use it.
Cece loves being sat up, but she isn’t quite able to do it without support (for more than a couple of seconds) so we often sit her in her Bumbo on the floor and put her toys on her tray for her to play with.
We recently came across Magnetic Blocks which she seems to love at the moment. Blocks are great toys for babies as they are easy to pick up and helps their hand eye coordination. I try and get them out at least once a day.
When we do decide to take a highchair, we also have the Chicco Polly Magic Relax highchair. It folds easily into the boot of the car with plenty of space to fill. Because it can comfortably recline and has a handy toy bar, it keeps Cece entertained and gives her a space to relax when we are away from home.
Now that Cecelia is into more solid foods and snacks, we use Tum Tum nesting snack pots from Hippy Chick along with their matching Tum Tum travel cutlery set when we go out and we know that we need to keep Cece entertained or when we know she is due her lunch/dinner.
Regardless of where we are and what we are doing, I always try and stick to her routine as much as possible.
Cecelia in her Chicco Polly Relax Highchair
Chicco Polly Magic Relax Highchair
Bumbo Multi Seat
The world of Puree foods
After I felt that Cecelia was accustomed to the baby rice, I added a puree meal into her daily routine.
I kept the baby rice going in the morning, but in the afternoon between her second and third bottle I added a puree. I wanted her purees to be as nutritional as possible, and I came across a great machine which I have been recommending to everyone!
The VitalBaby Nourish prep and wean machine is a must-have for any parent in my book. This machine sterilises, steams and blends all in one! It is ridiculously easy to use and locks in all the nutrients of the food.
As the food steams the water collects in the jug where the blender is housed. Once the veg (or fruit) is steamed I simply tip it into the blender compartment and give it a whizz. The water from the steam is crucial as it contains all the nutrients that would have otherwise escaped.
The first puree Cece had (and loved) was sweet potato. Even now it is a firm favourite. Each day I tried a different vegetable, before stepping it up and mixing them together.
She wasn’t too keen on peas or broccoli, however, when the broccoli was mixed with carrot she couldn’t get enough. I’ve now learnt to hide her greens amongst the sweeter flavoured vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot and parsnip.
There is a range of puree pouches on the market, and I have tried Cecelia on them, but honestly, they are not for us.
I didn’t like the way they smelt or looked, and it just felt like there were too many preservatives. The fruit pouches I have no issue with, but the “simply sweet potato” smelled, looked and tasted like anything but.
Overall, I would buy ready-made baby food, but for me I would rather make the purees using my VitalBaby machine and freeze the surplus. I found some great little freezer pots in the baby section of Sainsbury’s that are perfect for this.
All is not lost however for foods on the go. Organix have a fantastic range of baby meals in little to-go pots which are great to grab when you are out for the afternoon (just remember to pack a spoon).
My bible at this time was Annabel Karmel’s Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. I cannot recommend this book enough; it talks you through each stage of weaning and what to expect. Plus, its filled with recipes from purees through to toddler meals. She currently has a collaboration collection with Rachel Riley, I have the Jelly Baby essentials gift set which includes an adorable bib, plush strawberry and the book itself. It makes a fantastic gift too; I even kept the gift box it came in to use as a storage box in the nursery!
VitalBaby Prep & Wean machine
Rachel Riley x Annabel Karmel gift set
Organix baby meals
Sweet potato steaming in the VitalBaby Prep machine
This is where our weaning journey began to get a little difficult. It was a slow process for us, and like most first time parents, the gagging really did put me off. I was so worried that she would choke, that anytime she gagged I thought “right, that’s it, she’s not ready.” and back to the purees we would go.
I began to slowly introduce solid foods. We started with Rusks, they were great as they melted in her mouth, so gagging didn’t really happen with them but as the melted so quickly they would stick to her fingers, and she struggled to get a good grip to feed herself. It was a messy occasion for us both.
Next, we tried toast with a small amount of unsalted butter. She really enjoyed this but a few days in she got a bit caught in the back of her throat and although she coughed it up and it didn’t cause her too much distress, I got scared and we went back a step.
At this point I began to try Cecelia on some finger food snacks. The carrot melts from the Organix range are fantastic. Think giant carrot flavoured wotsits! This really helped with Cecelia’s coordination and got her used to feeding herself and of course they melt in her mouth so no gagging at all with these!
Over time we have successfully explored a variety of different textures. We discovered Pots for Tots, a homemade baby food delivery service. As I wasn’t a fan of the puree pouches, I thought these would make a great alternative, as well as give me a little inspiration on meals I could make myself for Cecelia in the future. The pots arrive frozen, and the packaging is microwave safe. To prepare the pots you can cook from frozen and pop them straight in the microwave.
Cecelia is just like her mama and absolutely adores Bolognese. The Pots for Tots Bolognese comes with baby pasta stars which she was able to eat without any gagging. The vegetable lasagne was also a big win for us.
As time went on, and she had more practice with solids, she began to chew her food and the gagging became a distant memory. I also started introducing water around this stage with her meals. I bought a few baby beakers, but the MAM we found was the best as the teat was soft and a little longer than others, so she could get a good suction. She could also hold it by herself which was a very proud mama moment.
We are still getting there with weaning and some days are better than others. We are learning and exploring new foods and textures everyday and I will continue to broaden her foodie horizons as we go.
Cecelia in her Baby Bjorn dinner set and Pots for Tots bolognese
Cecelia feeding herself
Cecelia holding her beaker for the first time
Cecelia eating her Organix carrot melt
Cecelia trying steamed carrots
Must-Have weaning products and brands
Below is a selection of some of my go-to products and brands that have helped to make my weaning journey a lot easier.
Cecelia feeding herself
This is my favourite local brand at the moment. They are Cheshire based and have a fantastic range of highchair accessories. I love their silicone suction plates, they are dishwasher safe so super easy to clean and they really stick to our highchair tray, so no chance of plates ending up on the floor.
I have their Sage Leaf Splash Mat which goes under the highchair to protect your floor/carpet from spills, crumbs and anything else that baby drops. The mat is easy to wipe down and a must-have for your weaning shopping list.
Another brand I am really into right now. They do a wide range of bamboo plates in loads of different shapes. From dinosaurs to rabbits, owls, elephants and ducks they are great for keeping your little one entertained at dinner time.
We have quite the selection of Ziggle products in our household. The dribble bibs are the best quality bibs we have found as they are super absorbent, soft and come in a range of patterns and designs.
Ziggle have an all-in-one coverall feeding bib which I cannot recommend enough. This bib is essential, especially when your little one begins to feed themselves. It is not a clean occasion and we have stained many baby grows and outfits before coming across the coverall bib.
Baby Bjorn have the most beautiful set of silicone bibs. I’ve tried a few different brands of silicone bibs and not only is the design special, but the quality is far superior, and the clasp is the easiest to put on of any other bib.
Bloomsbury Mill has been a firm favourite baby brand of mine since Cecelia was born. I have their sleeping bag, which is lightweight and super comfortable, as well as being easy to wash and dry.
They have a fantastic range of muslin cloths. The material is organic, soft and the size of these cloths are much bigger than any other brand I have, which is a big plus for me. They are a great all-rounder for milk feeds and for when feeding time gets a bit out of control – which has happened more than once for us!
My go-to baby wipe brand. I have tried loads of different wipe brands and AquaWipes are by far the best. Not only are they plastic-free but they contain a lot more moisture than any other brand. They are also super sensitive and are great for wiping both mouths and bums!
One of my most-used weaning products to date is the Nuby stackable suction bowls. These are great as you can make a puree in advance, put the lid on and pop straight in the fridge for the next day. When it comes to feeding time the puree is already in the bowl so just pop off the lid and straight to the table (or highchair).
I also use the Nibbler which really came in useful as I progressed from purees to solids. The net meant that Cece could safely explore new flavours and feeding herself with less risk of choking. It’s also great on a hot day, just pop a bit of fruit in the net and put the Nibbler in the freezer for a little while. Perfect for teething babas.