I’m a winging it type of parent for a lot of things, really I am, but I’m also someone that looooves to learn and there are times when I believe that arming myself with information is the best option. Giving birth, breastfeeding, attempting to understand and gently discipline my threenager and of course, weaning. As a dietitian I naively believed that weaning would be easy because I know about nutrition. Oh how wrong I was… as I approached the weaning stage with my daughter I was frantically messaging a friend and paediatric dietitian ‘HEEEEELLLLP I don’t understand’. Fast forward… hours and hours and hours over weeks and now years learning all there is to know about feeding children. It’s taken a LOT of courses, books and scientific journals to get my head around the whole process and to really understand the science (and that learning is always ongoing), so if it’s hard for me, a person trained to understand nutritional science then I know how hard it is for you.
So here are the reasons that I genuinely think everyone embarking on the weaning journey should get the opportunity to speak with me…
1. Many people feel pressured to wean in a particular way - whether that’s pressure to spoon feed by a grandparent that can’t get their hear around baby led weaning (BLW) or pressure to BLW by other mums they meet. My weaning course is 100% unbiased, evidence based information so you will leave feeling completely confident in whatever choice you make, because there IS NO right or wrong way. If you are happy, your baby will be happy and your weaning journey will be far more successful than if you’re fighting to do something to please others. Once you understand both types of weaning and their pros and cons you can not only make an informed choice, you can completely ignore any pressure from others and even tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing (if you feel so inclined!!).
2. Baby led weaning is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason, there’s lots of positives to it (which you’ll learn all about!). However, it is about so much more than simply allowing your children to self feed. It’s also about understanding their ability to regulate their own intake, knowing what a diet should look like, how to get particular foods into them and much more! There’s also a growing amount of evidence showing up some worrying trends – particularly that many parents are not arming themselves with the information needed to SAFELY wean their children using finger foods. A worrying number of babies are being given foods that pose a choking risk so if you do want to do baby led weaning it’s important that you do so with the knowledge of which foods to safely give.
3. It’s not JUST about baby led weaning vs spoon feeding/traditional weaning (though this of course is a consideration and is discussed on the course). We are not born knowing how to eat and knowing about food, it’s something that needs to be learnt. Which means we have to teach our children. We know from the research that the type of diet children have and the eating habits that they develop at a young age tend to be continued into adulthood. If you can learn what a healthy diet should look like and understand the foundations of eating well then it’s not only the weaning process you’ll be acing but you’ll be improving the health of your child for the rest of their life because a great diet is so important for long term health.
4. Approximately 40% of children will go through a fussy eating phase – some for several years. Anyone that has a child with fussy eating tendencies will tell you that it can become all consuming, turn mealtimes into battles and generally make your time around the dinner table unpleasant. When you understand that the weaning process can have an effect on fussy eating in the future you know it's an investment to spend a few hours of your time to make your life easier going forward!! Of course I can’t guarantee that your child is going to eat every food that is put in front of them… but by following a few basic principles you will be greatly increasing your child’s chances of eating a wide range of foods with the rest of the family.
So of course, you can wing it and if you do that’s fine and I wish you all the luck in your weaning journey. But you could also learn all about the very best way to feed your children, how to encourage them to eat the biggest variety of healthy foods which will set them up for the healthiest future possible and how to decrease the chances of fussy eating which I think you will agree you really can’t put a price on.