Hello moms and dads! It is most probably a scorcher outside today and you are enjoying your house air conditioning. We are on the same page! Baby Princess definitely doesn’t like hot weather so we are prisoners in our flat: what a great excuse to bingewatch the newly released season of Money Heist with a frozen beer. Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. Of course, normally one would prefer to be out at a park, under less extreme temperatures. This is why, these days, I have been often thinking of our trip to London when baby Princess was six months old. She discovered the grass in Hyde Park and we all had great fun. Ok, but in the subway, as you may know if you read our post about walking with a stroller in London. For us, this was an important trip because it was the first time away from home after starting weaning Princess. As strange as it may sound, the first six months of life are perfect for travelling: the problem is that we are too focused on how our life has changed to realize it. Weaning a baby baby for sure makes life harder, especially at the very beginning. You indeed face both emotional and practical problems. On one side, the whole thing is a bit messy: there are plenty of theories about when a baby should start having solid food, what kind of food to introduce and quantities. On the other side, every meal is a question mark: will the baby eat? Will he/she rather spit? Will he/she like it? Will he/she mess around (well, it’s pretty sure he/she will)? I know. Life is so easy when you breastfeed. And even when you are on formula only. Still, this is not an excuse not to travel: we made it to be in London on day 10 of Princess weaning. This means everyone can make it! Consider the following advice and pack your stuff: Swinging London is waiting for you!
There’s no exact rule to weaning, so you can relax. As long as you are abroad and get baby food, you’ll figure out that rules and approaches to weaning are completely different. In Italy, for example, the theory of introducing one food at a time is still prevailing. This means that industrial baby meals are normally made of one element (chicken, veal, vegetables, …) that you should combine at home with broth and some carbs. Some brands have introduced complete meals (e.g.: vegs&salmon) but in limited choice. Then, you have a wide variety of fruit jars. This makes life very hard if you are out of home, with no access to a kitchen. It’s like hearing Italian grandmas’ call: “Whaaaat? Go out with bambino instead of cooking baby pasta? Shame, shame on you!”. You then wonder why our demographics are in such a bad shape. In the UK, we found it is pretty much the opposite. You can find true baby meals there. By true, I mean something that are ready to consume and palatable as they are. I was particularly impressed by the “spaghetti bolognese” baby meal. Something that would provoke a heart attack to most Italian mothers, but that I personally found very useful for me to relax: if in other Countries there are other ways of dealing with weaning, it means one should try. Wean like a local, as our column claims!
Explore British options. It’s pointless to bring baby food from home. The UK is a destination where you can find everything you need better then at home. First of all, baby supplies are available at convenience and proximity stores. You don’t need to search much: we located a Sainsbury’s close to our Airbnb moments after our arrival. It was a small store but we could find a good selection of baby food brands. In particular, we found Ella’s Kitchen. This is a UK-based, organic baby food producer that has a variety of healthy, funny meals aiming at increasing the vegs intake of the little ones. They even published three cookbooks for family meals. Believe me, I wish they enter the Italian market soon. Their products are not only healthy and tasty, but also ready to consume and nicely-packed. Baby Princess loved them. So far, it is the only baby food brand that she happens to accept. Another stereotype proves wrong: British food is indeed not bad at all! By the way, not even for the grown-ups!
Fresh food. As a rule of thumb, I tend to stick to fresh food for my baby. Wherever I go, I think that it is a healthier solution for her. In the UK I made an exception. First of all, Princess was at the very initial stage of weaning (6/7 months old): this made it very complicated for her to try fresh food and she was unable to chew. She was still on pureed at home, so she just had some of my toasts for breakfast and a bite of pudding before I drowned it into gravey sauce (and still, there are people convinced that you cannot find good food in the UK. Poor them!). Of course, this situation changes if the baby is older. In the UK, and in London in particular, you can find basically whatever you like to eat: for sure you can easily have some white rice or some pasta. Moreover, we were really fine with baby meals: normally we are in the opposite situation and we struggle to make Princess have a couple of spoonful of baby food, while she is eager to try fresh food. Ella’s Kitchen, as I said, did the magic and so far it is the only brand that seems to work very well for Princess. Hey Ella’s management, I have a message for you: do enter the Italian market please. You can prove grandmas that someone’s cooking better than they do! Last but not least, we were on a short trip, we spent a long weekend there, so we wanted to optimize the time off (ok, and going to the pub: I guess we are horrible persons). For sure, if you stay longer, you’ll organize better with local food.
All in all, as far as weaning is concerned, the UK is one of those destinations that you can always target for a family trip. You can find what you need at any time, at every corner, being sure about quality and safety. Plus, for most of people there’s no language barrier (or not that much) if you need to ask something specific. This is important mainly for solid food newbies. For example, I was freaking out at the idea that Princess wouldn’t be able to chew and I was reading carefully any information about the texture. Fortunately enough, I had over gone beyond that by the time we went to Japan. Can you imagine me, asking “Hey excuse me, does this corn from Hokkaido baby meal come with a pureed texture, or rather with pieces to chew? You know, Princess has been on solid food for a couple of week. Do you think she might chew it?”? That would have been quite something!