Felicity Bertin is an osteopath, a breastfeeding peer support volunteer and a lecturer in Neuro-Musculo-Skeletal Medicine, Embryology and Developmental Biology at the British School of Osteopathy – as well as being mum to three-year-old Lucas.
Emma Ogden-Hooper studied English language and linguistics at university and enjoyed a successful career in professional recruitment before becoming a full-time mum to her two year old son, Ethan. Whether it be baking birthday cakes for children, hosting dinner parties for friends, or creating dishes for her family, Emma always takes delight in cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
Together, Felicity and Emma have written The Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book. Here’s how it all came about…
Emma and I met at ante-natal classes when we were pregnant with our boys, Lucas and Ethan. We supported each other through each stage, regularly discussing how many times we had been up that night or vomited upon. At six months old, the time came for us to wean our boys and this is where (for the first time) our parenting choices deviated. I decided to baby-led wean Lucas and Emma decided to traditionally wean Ethan. As a health professional it’s in my nature to research every parenting decision I make, from vaccinations to washable nappies. All my friends were pureeing up carrot and shovelling another spoonful of baby rice in to their little one’s open mouth, but all my knowledge of child development led me down a different path. I decided to follow my instincts and got stuck in with serving up chicken curry and falafels and allowing Lucas to feed himself.
Being a new mum I was scared. None of my mummy-friends (who I always looked to for reassurance) were following this method. I had nobody to ask for help or to gather tips from and I had no idea if what I was doing was right. There was only one book on the market on baby-led weaning which gave me guidance on how to do it but didn’t answer all my needs. So, I fumbled my way through and in the evenings once Lucas was in bed, I started writing my own – a baby-led weaning recipe book which I hope deals with questions that occurred to me. I wanted it to contain knowledge I had gleaned and recipes which could be knocked together when Lucas was napping whilst still squeezing in a cup of tea and biscuit.
I kept my little project to myself and then several months later, Emma and I were sitting in the cafe enjoying lunch with our little ones and the subject of weaning came up. As we started sharing recipes for finger foods Emma suggested “Why don’t you write your own recipe book” and from there I knew that the book I had started to pen was a good idea, and let her in on my little secret. With Emma being such a fabulous cook I knew that if we pulled together our experiences of baby-led weaning and traditional weaning we could produce something really special. And we have.
The book sat there for months on my computer, not really doing much as how do two mums with no experience of publishing get a book on the market? One day, fate intervened and in my work as an osteopath, it turned out a patient whose baby I was treating was a graphic designer. I told her all about our book (which she thought was brilliant) and before I knew it, we had a possible book cover and sample pages drawn-up and a company: Yummy Discoveries. I searched on the internet on how we might get our book published and stumbled across Robert Hale Ltd who stated on their website that they accepted unsolicited manuscripts – so we wouldn’t need an agent. Amazingly, they liked what they saw and the rest, as they say, is history.
Felicity and I met back in 2009 through the NCT course we signed up to in Hertfordshire. Both of us went on to have baby boys Lucas and Ethan, who are now 3 years of age and are just as good friends as their mums are!
When it came to weaning, the one thing I was sure of was that I was going to feed Ethan home cooked food.
I was brought up on traditional food and I can fondly remember how my mum’s kitchen always smelled of something delicious being cooked or baked. Being the daughter of a mother who cooked everything herself from scratch (pies, casseroles, roasts, soup, bread, pastry, biscuits….) I have clearly inherited her love of cooking. I believe that this attribute has contributed to why I am conscious of eating a healthy diet and one not laden with processed foods. Becoming a mum myself, I wanted to give Ethan the best possible start to his culinary journey and that for me, begins with home cooking.
What I wasn’t sure of was the method I was going to use to feed my son this home cooked goodness. All my friends with older children gave me advice on how to wean with purées as did my mother and the health visitors at the local children’s centre. So I decided to go down the puréeing route. I armed myself with a blender and ice cube trays and whizzed up the foods I cooked. But after a few months Ethan become bored and restless at mealtimes and started to refuse what I was feeding him. But I discovered that if I offered him the food and allowed him to feed himself he once again became happy when eating. It therefore became clear to me that Ethan enjoyed the freedom to explore food for himself and he relished the independence that came with self-feeding.
Due to Felicity’s own experience of weaning her son, when we came to write the book together, we both agreed it was important that it offered more than just recipes to parents who are at the weaning stage; we wanted to create a “handbook” and one whose style, tone and content reflected the ethos of ‘written by parents, for parents’.
Therefore our book provides a step-by-step guide on how to wean the baby-led way in addition to over 150 recipes that the family can enjoy together (not just for weaning babies). We have included useful tips which we found save time or make weaning and cooking a little easier, practical advice on how to get started with baby-led weaning, first foods, meal planners, shopping lists and eating out when weaning. We have listed recipes according to their actual cooking times as we understand time is a precious commodity. As parents, we also appreciate how costly throwing away food can be so we created recipes and suggestions for leftovers.
Children’s health seems to be a hot topic at the moment; from discussions about childhood obesity to fussy eating habits in addition to articles that discuss the virtues of home cooked foods for babies and children against those that are processed or pre-packaged.
I personally hope that our book is being released at a time when it can make a positive difference. Not only can baby-led weaning help establish healthy eating habits and prevent fussy eating later on in life, its principle of ‘your baby can eat what you eat (with a few dos and don’ts)’ is reflected positively by our book’s promotion of recipes you and your baby can both enjoy together.
The Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book by Felicity Bertin and Emma Ogden-Hooper
We like to think we have created something special because our book has a few unique points which help reinforce our books ethos:
- Research has shown that once we start to get used to sugar in our diets we then crave more and so we end up more likely to become obese. Our book is 100% refined sugar free. We aim to target children when they first start weaning – and to encourage healthy eating habits from the moment they put food in to their mouth is a step towards this.
- Certain foods have been highlighted due to their health or developmental benefits
- The book contains recipes or suggestions for leftovers (to help save the parent money)
- There are easy ‘Adult Add-On’ suggestions, for the more sophisticated palate
- All recipes have been tried and tested by our families – including our little ones!