Weaning - how I teached my baby to eat!
Updated: May 13
Potete leggere questo articolo in Italiano qui.
And here we are talking about weaning, a stressful period for both the parents and the baby. At least for me, as I was spending the vast majority of time at home with our baby, it was so.
When my son was 5 and a half months, the paediatrician recommended to initiate the weaning process.
Before starting, I decided to read more about weaning in order to understand how it really worked. I found some articles on the World Health Organization (WHO) website https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/complementary_feeding/en/, the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) http://www.espghan.org/fileadmin/user_upload/guidelines_pdf/con_28.pdf and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1423 about complementary feeding, dietetic products, nutrition and allergies which were very helpful. I do recommend you to read what these Organizations say about nutrition.
What I learned is that, during the weaning process, the baby doesn’t need to eat a full plate of food but it means that, since the beginning of the process to about 12 months old, he should try different flavours. So if at the beginning he eats only one or a few tea spoons of food, that’s more than enough. Also, an important thing is to give the baby basic mixtures, so that he learns to distinguish tastes.
According to the Committee on Nutrition, Section on Allergy and Immunology of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the ESPGHAN, it seems that that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that avoidance or delayed introduction of potentially allergenic foods beyond 4-6 months reduces allergies in infants considered at increased risk for the development of allergy or in those not considered to be at increased risk”.
I started the weaning process when my baby was 5 and a half months with fruits.
I was very optimistic. The very first days of weaning went smooth: my son was eating everything, he was asking for more fruits and I couldn’t believe how much he was eating. I foully thought he just loved eating and I was a lucky mum😊.
Then I included vegetables* and later on added meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, cereals. And he loved everything. I was so happy!
* Following a very Italian habit, the paediatrician recommended starting with the “pappe” when he was 6 months old. Pappe is a dish with cereal flour and vegetables broth. In the first instance the vegetables are excluded. I preferred not to give “pappe” to my son, I rather started with mashed vegetables and no cereals because I wanted my son to get familiar to the taste of vegetables.
When he was 6 and a half months, he began refusing to eat. I mean, he refused all sort of solid food I prepared for him. No vegetables and no fruits. The only food he accepted at around 7 months was semolina with milk. At this point I added some mashed fruits or vegetables to semolina. And I thought that everything was sorted out 😊.
At around 8 and a half months my son totally refused all kinds of solid food: no semolina, no fruits, no vegetables, no fish, no meat. At this point I was in crisis. I felt that it was my fault and that there was something wrong with the food. I asked the paediatrician to visit my son and to check whether everything was ok. As my son was perfectly well, the paediatrician just asked me to feed him only with milk for 7 days and to give him solids only if he were asking for them. After only 4 days of milk my son was curious again. He started asking for eggs or fruits and I gave him only when he was insisting on having it.
As I was in panic, I started googling. I found out about the book entitled “My child won’t eat” by Carlos Gonzalez (I bought the Italian version from Amazon https://amzn.to/3b1ftsp, but the English version is available too https://amzn.to/2ISbW3V) and my perception of the issue completely changed. I understood the problem was not the way the food was cooked nor the density of it. The issue was that I had insisted he finished everything was in the plate as for me it was impossible he was not hungry or he did not want solids on a particular day. Also, he was teething and I insisted with food.
After reading this book, my perception of weaning completely changed. I understood that weaning is not about forcing our baby to eat but teach him how to do it.
Italian version: https://amzn.to/3b1ftsp
English version: https://amzn.to/2ISbW3V
After reading the book everything changed. I was more relaxed, I never insisted again. If he was refusing solids I was giving to him only milk. Also, I started having meals with him: when he was eating fruits I ate fruits too, when he was having lunch I had lunch too. What changed? My baby started eating again and he was deciding how much he needed to eat.
Now that he is 16 months, he knows whether he needs to eat or not. I do not prepare different types of dishes for him so he cannot choose what he wants to eat. He knows he has to eat the food that is in his plate. If he refuses the main course then I propose some fruits. If he refuses both then I accept it, I never insist.
We, the parents, need to understand that weaning is not about forcing our baby to eat but teach him how to do it.