The Baby Feeding Series with Fresh Milk Mama

Hello and welcome back to another instalment of The Baby Feeding Series, that features real stories from real parents who have experienced how hard and baffling feeding your baby can be. I want this series to be a place where parents can share their own experiences in the hopes that other parents who are struggling can feel less alone. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but it's one of the most rewarding jobs too and so I want to share their stories.
Last week we had the lovely Beth from A Blonde and A Baby who kindly offered to share her breastfeeding experience with her little girl, which wasn't the easiest journey. But it was so lovely to see that it became the experience that she wanted with her daughter in the end. This week I would like to introduce Emily who shares her struggles with breastfeeding over at Fresh Milk Mama, however for her contribution to the series she has decided to share her weaning journey with her son. So much of her post resonated with me, but we soon found our feet and now she's a wonderful eater, with the odd days where she wants to be fussy. Without further ado, I'd like to hand it over to the lovely Emily...
Mis-Adventures in Weaning
Weaning my son was not a pleasant experience - I didn’t follow his cues, and I let his slow weight gain and disinterest in food upset me. After a lot of stress and tears (from both of us) I realized things were actually okay. I’m ready to do everything differently when it comes to weaning with our second child!

Getting Ready to Introduce Solids

Weaning my son was a more difficult process than necessary. I’m a worry-prone mom, so introducing solids to my son had me feeling pretty anxious. I did my research, asked friends about their experiences, spoke to our paediatrician, read a couple of books, and searched online for ideas.

By the time my son was 6 months old, I felt good about the weaning process. We were going to follow baby-led-weaning so my son could go at his own pace. I was armed with plenty of ideas for first foods. I knew what size foods to offer, and I knew infant first aid just in case my son choked.

6 Months is not a Magic Number

At 6 months, there was suddenly a lot of pressure to offer my son food. My friends, our nanny, our doctor, everyone was pushing for him to start eating. The problem was, I didn’t think he was ready! Some signs that a child is ready for solids are when he or she can sit up unassisted, shows an interest in food, and doesn’t automatically push things out of his or her mouth.

I wasn’t seeing any of these developmental cues, but no one seemed to care. We had our 6 month check up with the paediatrician, and my son, as usual, was pretty low on the weight curve. And so, my doctor’s advice was to ‘feed him!’ She ignored me when I said my son didn’t seem ready.

Don’t Give In to Outside Pressure

I dutifully went home and started offering my son solid foods. He wasn’t interested at all!. The thing is, I had the words of my paediatrician, nanny, and friends, ringing in my ears and I felt like my son needed to start eating now.

So, I caved! Away went the carefully steamed and cut pieces of fruits and vegetables, and in came the purees. Meal times went from relaxed and playful to incredibly stressful. I agonized over how many spoonful's of food my son would swallow. Each meal felt like a battle.

A couple of months passed and my son gained the ability to sit up on his own and seemed to enjoy the purees once in while. He still didn’t show the type of interest in food I saw some of my friends’ babies demonstrate. Some of his 8-month old friends would even grab food out of your hand!

Since my son’s interest in solids was minimal, mealtimes were still stressful for me. Slowly he started eating a bit more, but he didn’t seem to enjoy it. Then, when my son had his first birthday, we went to visit my parents. My mom saw how stressed I was over whether my son would eat, and observed how tense our mealtimes were. In turn, I noticed that my son would eat pleasantly when my mom fed him.

Turns Out… I Needed to Relax!

Suddenly I realized that my own stress over feeding my son was impacting how he reacted to food. The fun playful mommy he spent each day with was replaced with an anxious and unsmiling stranger at each meal. The difference was huge when I learned to relax at mealtimes. He wasn’t a champion eater, but we enjoyed eating together and he willingly tried a big variety of foods.

I will admit I couldn’t relax about feeding him over night. I felt like he was eating much less than other kids his age, and he was still slow to gain weight. It is really important to remember NOT to compare your child to other kids. Every baby develops at his or her own pace!

And Now Look Who’s a Big Eater

About three months after his first birthday, it was like something clicked. Suddenly, my son loved to eat! He wanted to taste everything, he loved feeding himself, and eating really was enjoyable. I’m not sure if his sudden love of eating happened because I was truly relaxed about feeding him, or if he just reached the developmental point where he liked to eat.

He has to continued to eat really well as he reached 1.5 years old. In hindsight, I see all of my worry was unfounded and if I had just followed his cues in the first place and waited a bit before offering food, things would have been fine. He is thriving although his weight gain is still on the slow side (I’ve switched paediatricians and our new doctor agrees he’s fine).

I’ll Do Things Differently with Baby #2

I hope we’ll have a second child soon, and when it comes time to wean baby #2, I will do everything differently. It will be easy to wait to offer food when my child seems ready, and not just because my child has reached the age where babies ‘should’ be eating. I’m really looking forward to actually following baby-led-weaning, rather than trying to force a disinterested child to eat!


About Emily

A mother to a very active 1.5 year old boy, Emily is a regular at the neighbourhood playground. She and her husband are from the USA, but currently live in Hong Kong for work. Struggling through the early days of motherhood while trying to breastfeed spurred her to launch her website, Fresh Milk Mama, in hopes of supporting other women who find breastfeeding a challenge. Follow her journey and find breastfeeding and postpartum health tips, as well as great lactation recipes, on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

Remember you can find Emily over at Fresh Milk Mama.

1 comment

  1. Oh I hate the pressure we are under to wean at the 6 month mark and like Emily says this isn't a magic number. Some babies might be ready but others might need longer and we should follow their lead x