10 lessons I’ve learnt during weaning (so far)November 7, 2015
Phoebe wasn’t interested in solid food until she was about six and a half months old. Before that we lovingly steamed and pureed various veg only for her to clamp her little month shut as the spoon approached. Then, during lunch one weekend, she wrestled a piece of baguette out of my hand (a carb lover, like her mother) and we were off.
In keeping with my approach to parenting, I hadn’t read any books. Well, I’d started a Gina Ford guide to weaning for a ‘contented’ baby that held big promise, but frankly it made my head fall off. Trying to keep to her daily planner of introducing new foods on a staggeringly rigid basis was a test of patience, discipline and shopping lists that proved too much for me. I could picture Gina shaking her head at me as I closed the book for the last time.
Since then, weaning has been a combination of purees, putting nibbly bits on her high chair table and letting her eat from our plates on occasion. In short, we’re winging it. And she’s not starving, so I’m calling it a win.
Here are some lessons I’ve learnt so far:
- Ella is a goddess (or her father who allegedly makes those yummy pouches deserves an OBE). We use them at weekends when the thought of defrosting sloppy broccoli on the go makes my stomach turn. I’m pretty sure we’ve spent so much on them that Ella and her entire family can comfortably retire to Bermuda in 2016.
- What the baby doesn’t eat, the dogs will. Earlier today our aged spaniel Lizzie licked up some discarded chicken casserole from the floor, while the puppy often benefits from a stray berry-flavoured rice cake, organic carrot crisp and those melty hoop things that sadly don’t taste as good as they smell. Note: descriptions of baby food make it sound delicious but they’re all rank, which quickly ended my plans of getting on Jennifer Aniston’s reported diet plan.
- Don’t worry about what your baby eats in a day, worry about it over a week. Sometimes distraction, teething, tiredness or whatever goes through their tiny minds means that their appetite is smaller or bigger on any given day. Don’t stress.
- Sometimes it’s ok for a baby to eat pain au chocolat. If it keeps her quiet long enough for me to have a cup of tea in a cafe with another mum then it’s fine in my book.
- Don’t compare. As with crawling, talking, walking and every other developmental point of difference, what your kid eats won’t be the same as that baby over there (yes, that one happily dipping their focaccia in truffle oil with an air of sophistication).
- Persevere. Baby might adore your famous spag bol one day, then the next act like you’ve warmed up excrement in their orange plastic bowl. Chances are, they’ll like it again tomorrow. Don’t take it personally.
- Planning helps, if you’re an organised person. I’m not. A lot of mums cook most nights and cunningly make separate portions of salt-free meals for their baby. Due to both parents working full time, at our house dinner is often cheese on toast or ordered in – and I seriously doubt Gina or Annabel would endorse me whizzing up Biryani Pot’s butter chicken or 800 Pizza’s finest pepperoni.
- The Nutribullet is your friend. Yes, it was bought with romantic, idealistic notions of a green juice before work leading to so much baby weight lost that friends would ask for my secret, with mock concern. It has, however, never seen spinach but is brilliant for pureeing the crap out of just about anything.
- The contents of nappies change. I can’t say more without getting graphic, but let’s just say that you’ll yearn for the days of newborn poops once the more grown-up, umm, efforts appear.
- Wipes. Wipes. Wipes. Great for distracting baby long enough to shove a spoon in their mouth, essential for cleaning up after and good for your handbag when you see you have Mango Baby Brekkie behind your ear in the rearview mirror on the way to work.
Bonus tip: my very clever friend Lyndsay is a trained chef and has a blog called I Eat My Peas full of awesome recipes that can be adapted for big people and little people. Check it out here.