So after taking months to stabilise Lily’s feeding with alot of breastfeeding failures and tears, and a lot of bottle feeding struggles, leading to hospitalisation and threats of tube feeding, then finally getting her reflux under control with medication, the next stage of her journey was upon us… weaning!
Initially it went well. I tried some vegetable pouches and within seconds of her first mouthfuls of sweet potato, she was pulling the spoon towards her own mouth for more. She completely stunned my mum who believed she still wasn’t ready for solids, and for the next few weeks, she was more than happy to enjoy various vegetable based sachets. So now I decided it was time to make my own.
I had dreams of home-making endless amounts of organic foods, made with only the freshest of ingredients. Little did I realise that this wouldn’t be the case! Unless you have all the time in the world, or are lucky enough to perhaps have a nanny, making even a cup of tea is often a struggle, let alone a whole array of beautifully prepared baby meals!
I remembed putting her in her bouncer chair, in the kitchen entrance, where she usually liked to sit and play while watching me clear up the kitchen. But for some reason, cooking wasn’t something she wanted me to do! As soon as all the vegetables and various sizes of baby tupperwear were all lined up, the knives came out, a Lily-breakdown was to be had. This wasn’t fun. So the kitchen was left in a state that drives me edgy, and I had to wait until she was asleep to even attempt any quiet chopping (with sweet potatoes, no chopping is quiet!). After much stop and start to make just a few tubs of sweet potatoes, I was in complete disarray on how it’s actually possible to create those beautiful spreads of various meals for your little one. It just didn’t seem possible.
Once it had cooled down, I excitedly settled Lily into her chair to feed her some delicious home made sweet potato mash (from the local market, but not organic… fail #1!). The next thing I know, she’s gagging. It’s not the super smooth puree she’s used to, so the tiny lumps I tried so hard to get out are just too much for her. So, reluctantly, it was back to the purees.
I thought back to another mum a few months earlier, who had offered me some food she’d made for her son. Unfortunately Lily was just too young at the time and it wouldn’t have lasted that long in the freezer. She said she’d made about 40 trays of food, when her son had just started to refuse being spoon fed. He just wanted to feed himself, and despite all her best efforts and intentions, he just wanted finger foods.
It crossed my mind that Lily liked her vegetable purees too much for this to happen, but sure enough after 2 months she decided she wanted to do it herself. She enjoyed feeding herself rice wafers and bits of banana, and didn’t want purees anymore. It was just out of the blue! So I then did my next batch of research into baby-led weaning, and presented her with various foods.
The next challenge was her reflux – she enjoyed demolishing small wholemeal toast slices, but projectile vomited these when they hit her stomach. The same happened with very boiled carrot sticks. And skinned cucumber. I couldn’t win! Finally I found something she enjoyed eating, and it just made her sick!!
Dr Google was back again and mixtures of ‘it’s her teething” and “it’s just a phase” were intermingled with “she should be having 3 meals a day at this stage” and “this is the basis for her food for the rest of her life”!
Revert to “feeling like a bad mum”… again!
Fast forward another month and I think we are back on track. It may have just been a “phase” or “teething” or just part of the learning process for both Lily and I. It all seems to be trial and error, and now it turns out she loves my own sweet potato mash, has a particular liking for orange vegetables(!), she loves natural yoghurt and banana for breakfast, and she loves tasting bits of our own food. I’m trying my hardest to keep her healthy, and she’s still yet to try chocolate or cakes, but she does have her own carrot wafers, carrot or vegetable puffs, and even baby biscotti!
She’s even demolished some spaghetti bolognese, vegetable lasagne, and other pureed meals this week!
However with alot of finger foods, such as very boiled carrots and broccoli for example, she’s still really struggling, and even alot of textured foods designed for babies 7+ she’s struggling with. The health visitor reminded us she was very prem so give it a few weeks on very basic purees again then if she still struggles then we’ll be referred to a specialist.
After nearly 4 months of ‘weaning’ I still feel the journey is just beginning, but I’m already planning a whole range of foods to make and freeze when my mum comes up to give me a hand with the baby next month. They may not be the array of organic, fresh meals I planned to make from scratch daily for her, but as long as they’re as healthy as possible then that’s all that matters to me.
She’ll be exposed to treats plenty of times through her life but as long as the majority of her foods are nutritious then it’s going to be wrong to hide her from the treats.
For now I keep thinking of the phrase “food before 1 is just for fun”, because weaning is just another stage in the journey that is bringing up our little ones.
Again, social media and all the books give you an image of happy babies eating perfectly at every meal, with all those fresh meals prepared lovingly each time, but in reality that’s rarely the case.
Every baby is different and there’s no Youtube books to tell you what your own child will want in life. I believe our job is just to be there to provide the best options for them.