This season Joel will be mostly wearing an exquisite coat made from Aldi’s finest apples and sweet potatoes with a shimmer of Autumnal broccoli on top.
Around a month ago his rumbling tummy started to lose us an hour’s sleep as he would wake up desperate to visit the milk bar. During meal times I could sense the tiny eyes stuck on me like every Scot on Murray during Wimbledon.
I turned to my side and I could see Joel lying on his playmat transfixed on me. If close enough, he would try to reach out for my spoon unaware that Mummy doesn’t share her food, no matter how cute you are. Usually when we’re eating he would be engrossed with 'Martin the Monkey' so we could eat in peace, however, a quiet meal was starting to happen less as those heart-breaking tears would start just as we’re about to dig in.
It was clear that our wee boy was ready to eat the same as us. My husband - a fully certified foodie - had been looking forward to this stage. Before I met my husband I was a size ten and he made me his guinea pig for his new recipes, now it was Joel’s turn.
So, we started off with every bottle giving him a spoonful of pureed fruit or veg to introduce the new flavours and textures. We expected Joel to make screwed up faces so Daddy could make a popular Youtube video, however, he started grinning away. Sometimes we let him hold the raw ingredient of what he’s eating thinking the texture would keep him interested. This appeared less exciting to Joel who would just sit with the carrot in his hand like a confused Bugs Bunny dropping it on the floor.
Due to my husband still being on his paternal leave, he has been busy batch cooking, so when it comes to meal times we can in true Blue Peter style say “here’s one I made earlier” and pop it in the microwave. The first time we fed him we both sat there with constipated looks on our faces praying we hadn’t made it too hot for him or he didn’t choke on any unnoticed large lumps.
Despite completing a baby first aid course whilst pregnant, the fear of choking is still on top of the Mummy fear list with the weaning process.
We expected Joel to make screwed up faces so Daddy could make a popular Youtube video
We looked at introducing baby-led weaning despite first feeding with the spoon but I felt slightly confused with what it initially involves. My health visitor had kindly given us a leaflet, and of course I had put that leaflet in one of my many “safe places” then forgot quite where that was. I’ll probably find it in the freezer’s bottom drawer and blame my husband entirely for it.
I’ve spoken recently over lunch with some other Mums regarding this approach and we have all received different responses from family, friends and even health visitors. I decided to look into this further to help me make an informed decision.
It was around 2003 when a health visitor Gill Rapley created the term “baby-led weaning”. It involves the baby using their hands instead of being spoon fed to eat their food and to give your little one their own mini finger food buffet. This approach is believed to help a baby control and establish their intake. If you’re worried about the mess or that your baby may not be eating enough, then this is possibly not the right approach for you.
A lot of the weaning process is trial and error to find what suits you all the best. We attempted this a few times with Joel with his pureed berry pudding and within seconds he ended up looking like Carrie on prom night.
After completing what we called Joel’s “temporary veggie stage” we moved him onto the meat stage. He has now consumed beef, chicken, fish and turkey as Old MacDonald laughs all the way to the bank. We also added in garlic and other herbs to broaden his tastebuds’ horizons further. This unfortunately proved to be Joel’s Waterloo and like Napoleon his poor wee tummy did surrender all over the lounge floor then the kitchen floor. The next day we reverted back to serving his delicate tummy the blandest thing on the menu which fingers crossed he’s keeping down.
So far we’re all ending up having more costume changes than Beyonce and there’s nothing sweet about that potato with the permanent stains it has left.
At the end of the day I’m finding crumbs in places I can’t mention as this is a family article. One morning the Amazon tracking service gave me a very inaccurate report of my parcel. It arrived twenty minutes earlier than expected, so in a panic I ended up physically using Joel as a shield to cover up the mixture of food and sick over me as I answered the door. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to sign for that parcel, but the mere sight of me, must have left the driver preferring the risk of forgery than one more second looking at my Sweeney Todd hair.
So far we’re all ending up having more costume changes than Beyonce and there’s nothing sweet about that potato with the permanent stains it's left!
Currently Joel is now happily eating three meals a day and it's now serious gas mask territory with his nappies. He starts off the day with his baby porridge as Mummy has a cardio work-out trying to pull the lid off the Tommee Tippee cup. Sometimes during the morning he may want some finger food treats but a lot of the time he’ll have a nibble then I’ll find other parts in his bib or on the floor for Mummy to squish later on, or for Daddy to munch.
Then for both lunch and dinner, we give him the same pureed meal which he usually wolfs down after a tiring day of rolling and teething. If he doesn’t finish his meal, I do find this difficult not to encourage him to do so. This is due to me growing up in a house where our motto was “to eat everything on our plate”. Nevertheless, I remind myself that I want to avoid over-feeding and not end up raising a mini Teletubbie.
It did take a good couple of weeks for Joel to adjust to the highchair, but with the help of highchair suction toys, it soon became his favourite place to hang out. He likes to keep an eye on Daddy for Mummy and make sure he’s not rolling his eyes when Mummy is providing him with some positive criticism.
We’re really enjoying all sitting down as a family and eating our meals together as Joel’s food jealousy is slowly deteriorating. Needless to say, all our hard efforts could go to waste in the next few years when he’s asking for chicken nuggets and happy meals. I realise this is something I can control as much as Jamie Oliver can stop his own children munching Turkey Twizzlers. At this stage, we’re aiming at a young age to encourage and promote healthy eating, as challenging as it can be, we feel the end result of a happy and healthy child is a rewarding goal.
Our weaning experience so far has been mostly positive with some rather challenging moments mixed in, because the chaos brings us laughter after the stressful storm. Any doubts about our weaning success are quickly diminished when he looks at me with his mouth wide open and Oliver Twist eyes, as if to say “please Mum can I have some more?”.
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