…Or how I accidentally ended up doing Baby-Led Weaning without meaning to….
I have found feeding the Munchkin to be as much of an ordeal from hell as everyone told me it would be. She won’t eat this, she doesn’t want that, food goes everywhere, it’s in ALL your clothes, ALL the time, you spend hours pureeing everything you can find in the fridge only for her to close her mouth and push everything away with her hand. She cries. You cry. It’s really quite awful.
Some people are blessed with a baby who loves their food – they guzzle down everything that is offered, opening their little mouths like hungry birds and smiling sweetly, Not my child. It has been a three month battle and I’ve found it really quite trying – at times I felt as low as I did those first six weeks of the baby blues. It was bad enough when she refused something from Ella’s Kitchen, but a million times worse when it was something I’d made. I was so looking forward to sharing food with Munchkin, cooking her treats and watching her chew happily while I pottered about the kitchen. The reality has been very different.
But – as always with babies – there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and in recent days she has started to show a real passion for certain things – namely finger food, or soft chunks of food that I pop in her mouth with my fingers or a spoon – (but often not a spoon, because, in addition to not being a fan of purees, she’s not a fan of spoons….don’t even). It all started when R came home and said that we needed to give her peas to help with her motor skills. I duly cooked some peas, plonked them in front of her and expected nothing. Except that she loves them. Wolfs them down. Always reaches for them first. From here we graduated to soft chunks of avocado, little pieces of cheese, soft carrot chunks, then mashed hard-boiled egg and so on. Now she eats tiny pasta shells with cheese and tuna, eggy bread, cheese straws, sweet potato fritters and savoury muffins. It’s been a revelation and has made me look forward to (rather dreading with a horror akin to eye-gouging) supper time, plus she’s much happier now I’m not shoving puree in her face. So I am I, in fact.
This approach won’t work for everyone – many babies take ages to get used to texture , some love purees, some have a really sweet tooth, some are ravenous, some are fussy, some like salmon, some won’t eat fish, some are allergic to everything, some only want milk etc. The trick is – hard as it is – to keep persevering and try, if you can, to get a sense of what they’re enjoying and work with them. Let them show you what they want.
And, I suppose – that is exactly what is meant by ‘baby-led weaning’ because, without a doubt, as with everything else in her life, I’ve been led by Munchkin, and not the other way around. And whenever I let her tell me when she’s ready for something, or how she wants it to work, it always does work. It’s just that simple.
* The above pic is courtesy of – bizarrely enough – the Sudocrem website, on which I also read this sentence, which perfectly captures my experience: “Babies who are allowed to choose what they put into their own mouths, rather than being spoon fed, are often far more likely to be adventurous eaters, happily exploring a wide variety of textures and flavours. Mealtimes are just an extension of playful discovery, rather than the battleground they can become when you’re trying to persuade your baby to eat the delicious purees you’ve been slaving over all morning.” Thanks Sudocrem, wise words indeed.