And so it begins…..weaning

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My first round of batch cooking for my youngest daughters’ foray into solid food began today. Despite it being just a little over 16 months from when i first did this with Belle I really can’t remember all that much about it. I’ve had to go back over the books i bought to refresh my memory about good practice. I found Annabel Karmel’s approach straight forward last time so have again turned to her for advice, although I’m cutting way more corners.

Despite being quite militant in my approach to Belle’s weaning. Only organic pure food passed her lips yet she soon strayed into the world of kids treat foods; biscuits, cakes & crisps. I tried to walk the path of moderation with her, so that nothing became off-limits, or seen as a reward. I reasoned the more she was denied something the more she would want it and there was only so much control i would have over her diet, particularly in the early years. So whilst i had total control I wanted to instil good habits.  She feasted on strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, steamed vegetables and good homemade food made from scratch. Then her palate and social life expanded and other kids were eating much more exciting food around her, so it began, her descent into the processed world. I can still remember the time when she was about 14 months old and i took her to the local soft play centre. We bumped into another mum and her child who was literally days younger than Belle and she was eating a bag of cheesy wotsits. Internally I was horrified and i tried to not let it show on my face. (Judgemental Mum = No friends)  Surely they weren’t age appropriate for their diet ? When they offered Belle one I wanted to pull her away  but she took one and her eyes lit up as she sucked it. She wanted more and rightly so.

I introduced treat snack food of the kids variety. Extortionately priced crisps that were wholly healthy but completely tasteless and biscuits that wouldn’t be out-of-place on the bottom of a bird’s cage. Needless to say these didn’t hold her interest for long.

I laugh to myself how precious i was first time around. How I clearly had too much time on my hands worrying about the vagaries of snack food. This time around with my 5 month old I can already sense things are going to be a little different.

For a start she is barely 22 weeks old and I have already tried her with a few very basic first foods; baby rice, carrot, banana. I took the advice from Health Visitors so seriously last time, to not begin until baby is 24 weeks or 6 months – whichever came first. Poor mite was starving by the time she got her first mouthful she tried to eat the spoon, after she had licked the bowl that is. She leap frogged on the centile growth chart they measure children on, with her body clearly delighting in having real food.

This time i think, yeah you’re ready, maybe?, let’s try and see? She seems ready. Holding herself nicely, wanting more milk, starting to wake even more in the night, not lasting between feeds so i thought I would go for it and I have.

And so it begins with my steaming & roasting of all good food today. I forgot how satisfying it is to label up freezer food bags with ice-cube sized portions of food.

My intention is to give Jools the same start in life I gave Belle. To make as much of an effort to instil good habits and fill her up on good food as i can. I’m under no illusion that she too will wander from this path at some stage and there will be times I’ll reach for the shelf that is convieniance also with baby packets and jars.

Belle however, despite this gold standard start in life is now wanting her diet to consist only of cheese, pasta & bread.  I’m sure the French would constitute this as three of their five a day but healthy & regular bowel movements it doesn’t promote. Whatever happened to the child I bored friends with who wouldn’t stop eating bowls of vegetables ? (yes, that was I…. how i laugh at my naivety and (lack of) social conversation)….. She grew up, that’s what happened and so too will Jools.

Tonight I gave Belle roast chicken with steamed carrots & cauliflower and some baked sweet potato. She looked at it like it was a cold turd lying on her plate and pushed it away. How did it come to this ? I make a point of not offering anything else (something i learned on the Baby Led Weaning course i did as a first time mum, which taught if anything just good hygiene and common sense) and yet i know if i offered her crisps, biscuits or cake she’d bite my arm off, figuratively speaking. It’s so frustrating to go to so much effort – the shopping, preparing, cooking, cleaning – for it to go to waste. I’m almost tempted to scream at her ‘there are people starving in Africa’ which my Mum used to scream at my elder sister, only for her to cry back ‘well send it to them’. I refuse to turn meal times into a battle ground.

We can only do what we can do and as the saying goes ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make them drink’.

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