Mentally preparing for weaning
Weaning is most certainly a topic that most parents have many questions about. You have just got settled with the routine of feeding your little one milk, and then it’s all about to change.
Lucy, Founder of NEST, Norland Nanny and Maternity Practitioner, talked to me about how to mentally prepare for weaning, as it’s quite an emotional transition time, and one which can be a little overwhelming too.
There is so much advice out there on weaning; online, and as well as the never ending blog posts, Instagram accounts, and special offers on weaning books, not forgetting the advice from your friends, family and Mother-in-Law, but we hope that some of the following tips enable you to take a more relaxed approach at this exciting developmental milestone your baby.
- Be prepared to get lots of different advice from everyone, and the advice or support may come at a time you are feeling emotional or tearful as weaning can feel very significant. As with all advice, it’s important to filter it and take from it what works for you - after all, only you know what is right for you, your baby and your family.
- Expect to feel quite emotional about this stage. It will create a change to your feeding routine which you probably feel you have just got settled with. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, when we start to reduce our milk supply our hormones change, which can leave us feeling tearful and sad. Recognise these emotions and be sure to reach out for help should they feel overwhelming.
- Spend some time looking into the various approaches to weaning so that you can determine which approach you feel most comfortable with. Baby Led vs Purees vs combined? How are you feeling about these options? Do you know which method you would prefer to go with? Are you feeling anxious around weaning your little one? There is a host of incredible information out there to help you feel more prepared.
- Start role modelling at meal times with your little one - even before you start offering them food. Pop your little one in their high chair whilst you’re eating, give them a couple of spoons to play with, and allow them to observe you and play, whilst being a part of your meal time. This can help you feel that they’re ready to move onto this exciting stage of their first year.
- Choking is something that always comes up, in every conversation regarding weaning! It is a hugely anxiety provoking area and one which majority of parents are fearful of. You might question how can a little one chew on things when they don’t have any teeth? How do I cut things up to ensure that they don’t choke? But did you know, Public Health England say that babies are less likely to choke if they are feeding themselves? We recommend completing a paediatric first aid course to give yourself confidence with how to deal with a situation should it ever arise and to learn the difference between gagging and weaning.
- Allergies can also be a big worry when introducing new food to your little darling. Read up on the main allergens your baby will encounter and the safest way to introduce these slowly intro their diet, so that you feel prepared. If you’re particularly nervous about introducing them, you can wait until you are not alone with baby, giving you the confidence of another pair of eyes and hands to help out should there be a reaction.
- Reaching this milestone can be a bittersweet developmental stage. Whilst it’s exciting seeing your baby discovering new foods and textures, it often goes hand in hand with a reduction in or stopping of breastfeeding. So be sure to go easy on yourself, considering the pace you’re comfortable with, as well as what your baby is enjoying. Your baby still needs you so very deeply, it’s just a new stage of their incredible growth.
Thank you Lucy. I clearly remember waiting until my husband was home or my mum was round before introducing specifically nut butters to both Etta and her little sister Uma, to give me that bit more confidence. We did combination weaning with both girls, but I was certainly a little bit braver with Uma so she leaned further towards baby led, which was actually a lot of fun once I relaxed into it.
Read Lucy’s blog about the more practical things to consider when it comes to weaning here.
To see the support that NEST could offer you and your family, take a look here.