I remember clearly when I first started talking about weaning with other mums. Our babies were about 3 or 4 months old. I felt like we had only just figured out how to breast or bottle feed and already there was a new “phase” we had to start thinking about. Our first conversations were all about baby rice and rusks and to do or not to do baby led weaning. Our parents and grandparents were desperate for Isaac to have his first rusk, although the advice I read was that they had too much sugar in them (when we did eventually give him one, I opted for the low sugar ones!) For the first few weeks of conversations I didn’t really even know what ‘baby led weaning’ meant and it felt like everyone around me had made a decision to do it or to try a mix and I still didn’t understand what it was! I bought a couple of books but there was just so much information it was hard to cut through it all. So I booked myself on to an NCT weaning masterclass. Whilst I found it incredibly helpful all I could think was how was I going to remember all the rules! There was a list of things the babies couldn’t eat, some they shouldn’t eat and some they must eat. Food for babies is such an essential thing, they have to have the right portions of all the vital things every day and I had to learn to balance all of this together with everything else we were trying to learn (and a severe lack of sleep!) We decided to go for part baby led, part purees, meaning Isaac got to eat some finger food but I also fed him puréed meals too. Despite the fact that it is extremely rare for a baby to choke when feeding himself, I still wanted to be equipped if I needed to be, so I also went to a first aid course and learnt what happens when a baby chokes… this stuff was petrifying! If I’m completely honest at the time I wasn’t sure if I could be bothered with it all, it all seemed like so much hard work when breastfeeding was so simple!
I’m writing this as my son is eating his breakfast – Daddy has made him pancakes with fruit and yoghurt! And I’m writing this because I want to share how much I absolutely love watching him eat, it’s one of my favourite things to do. We have come along way since baby rice and pureeing everything in sight! After the age of one there is nothing really off bounds and we let Isaac try almost anything. I like that my husband and I have a similar attitude to Isaac’s food, he has his set meal times but we don’t mind too much (nor, more importantly, does Isaac) if we are an hour earlier or later, and he can try most things we are eating including the odd bit of cake, chocolate or ice cream every now and then! Watching his face with new flavours and textures is so much fun and watching him lick his lips and make funny noises when he wants to try something that we are eating is brilliant. I love watching his feet swing in his highchair whilst he’s munching away, the way he bounces up and down (his little food dance (we all do it sometimes!)) when food is on its way, the thought that goes into choosing which part of his meal to eat next and even how he slyly picks food up and drops it over the side of his highchair when he doesn’t fancy the look of it. I love how he stands with his hands on my knees as I try to eat my lunch, it sometimes feels like having a puppy!
I enjoy cooking him new things to try and one my favourite apps is now the Baby led weaning cookbook full of simple meals and snacks for my son to try. Whilst I only really get to eat with him at weekends I make sure the freezer is stocked up so that he has some homemade meals to eat during the week, alongside the freezer favourites of fish fingers or vegetable fingers!
Isaac has just learned to use a spoon for himself which is amazing but also comes with so much more mess! The mess is unbelievable, I think we have to laugh or else we would cry. The amount of baby wipes we used has quadrupled and I have already had to dry clean my curtains (something I’ve never done before..) and within a couple of days there were fruity handprints down them again!
It is such a fun part of being a mum and I love that Isaac loves his food as much as his Daddy and me do! It can be hard work cooking things from fresh, thinking what he can eat every day, giving him lots of variety and making sure we always have enough time to sit and eat proper meals, especially at the weekends. But the only real downside is that I no longer get to eat a full meal to myself!