We have regular follow up appointments at the paediatric hospital to monitor the twins’ growth and development because they were so premature. When they were 4 months old (1 month corrected) the paediatrician asked if I’d thought about starting to wean them. I nearly choked. They were tiny – I think at the time they weighed about 6 and 9lbs respectively. They could have been new-born babies…
I had a good chat with the consultant and she explained that they like to take quite an aggressive approach to feeding with low birthweight babies. I smiled and nodded and went home and did some research of my own. I decided to wait a while before I started the boys on solid food. And I’m very very glad I did! I waited until they were 24 weeks and even that felt very early as technically they were only 14 weeks.
As a first time mum I was quite daunted by the whole weaning thing. I felt like I had just about nailed the process for managing to bottle feed the twins on my own and now I had to re-think their whole routine and work out how to fit in (very-slow) spoon feeds. To top it all off, the twins had quite bad reflux and were horrendous projectile vomiters! The number of times I spent ages feeding the boys my lovely home-made baby purees only to have it puked all over me and everything nearby, 20 minutes later.
I hated that there was no clear ‘how to’ manual. I wanted to know what to feed, how often, how much, if I should reduce their their milk intake etc etc. But every book I read only gave rough guidelines… In the end, I relied pretty heavily on a mixture of weaning methods and recipes from Annabel Karmel and Gina Forde until I found what worked best for us.
We started weaning over the summer months when my husband was off work for the school holidays. I was terrified of having two babies choking at the same time and wanted a bit of help to get started. When he went back to work, I was quite nervous about doing all the feeds myself. But I got there!
Here’s my top tips on feeding two babies yourself:
• Try and find a comfortable way to sit for the feeding sessions. This is so important.Each feed could take you up to an hour for the first few weeks. And that’s a lot of time spent in the same position every day. For about the first 3 months of weaning, I had to feed the twins in their bouncer seats as they were just too small to sit up in a high chair. It wrecked my back and I wish that we’d invested in high chairs suitable from birth (they tilt back) from the start. Once we moved them into proper high chairs, it was so much easier.
• If at all possible, feed them both at the same time. This means that you can prepare the food and have it heated up at the same time and you don’t have to go through that ritual twice. For the first few months I had to feed the boys one at a time as they got very distracted unless you gave them your full attention, and stopped eating. Once they got a bit bigger and they were used to spoon feeds, I started to feed them together. I just alternated mouthfuls. This works quite well as they have time to chew up their food as you feed their twin.
• Leave yourself plenty of time. Trying to spoon feed two babies when you’re under pressure for time is a bad idea! I think they can sense that you are in a rush (!) and so everything that possibly could go wrong, does. If you are relaxed, hopefully that will make for calmer babies that want to eat their meal.
• Invest in a split bowl. This is the best £5 I have ever spent on a baby product. It’s so much easier and quicker than having to switch between bowls for each spoonful. Get a nice deep bowl, so the spoons don’t fall out when you switch.
• Two coverall feeding bibs are a must. Unless you want to have the washing machine on four times a day, instead of two!
• Two babies.Two spoons. I always try and make sure they have their own soon – they pick up enough coughs and colds and any effort I can make to limit that is definitively worth it.
• Before you start, make sure you have all the essentials within arms reach. For me, that’s baby coverall bibs, kitchen roll, baby wipes and sippy cups.
• The freezer is your best friend. I rarely make their meals up just before they eat them. I make big batches of chicken, beef or fish based baby food and freeze them in individual portions. I also make a batch of vegetable mashes and every night, I lift out a protein portion and a vegetable portion to defrost overnight in the fridge. That means you can spend a few hours a week cooking and have tasty, home made food everyday.
• Don’t feel bad about feeding pouches of bought baby food when you need to! I recently started using a lot of pre made fruit purees and the boys love them. I couldn’t keep up to the number of apples and pears that needed peeled on a weekly basis!
• There will be days when one or both of them will just decide that they don’t want to eat. Don’t stress and just give them a bit of whatever it is they want –when our two are being fussy, the only thing they won’t refuse is fruit purée and yoghurt! Teething babies do not make good eaters. As long as they are getting plenty of milk, don’t worry about the odd ‘off’ day.
I really didn’t enjoy the early stages of weaning – it’s depressing when you feel like you throw out more food than gets fed! But now I love mealtimes with the boys. They love their food and generally we have lots of fun in the highchairs. It’s a lot of mess. And I get really sick of cleaning the floor. But the giggles make their food smeared faces look very very cute! Have you enjoyed the weaning process or are you fed up with the mess?!