Weaning can be a contentious issue fraught with uncertainty, guilt and surprisingly even shame. When to wean is now thought to be ‘best’ at around six months old according to the UK Department of Health, because those ‘experts’ tell us that a babies gastrointestinal function isn’t fully matured until seventeen weeks of age. Tons of information is provided to news mum’s not just by health visitors but other mums and the internet too, however with all of that ‘stuff’ and being a newbie at it can be a little bit daunting.
Pregnancy is monitored, predicated and recorded for nine whole months (if you make it that far) so it is hardly a shock when your baby is finally here, to find out that others welcome you with advice about feeding, from breast to bottle and then onto weaning. For new mothers weaning can be seen another exciting milestone yet to discover whereas mothers second time or so on, may secretly not be too thrilled by the idea of peeling, chopping and blending the shit out of everything. This is me currently!
I am now at the stage of finding teeny, tiny pots to put my (lovingly made with swear words) homemade puree’s, which look and often smell disgusting when it goes in just as when it comes out! This time I have waited till the perceived ‘right’ time, otherwise known as six months to wean my number three. However I had approached the whole subject of weaning completely differently both first and second time around.
As a new mum first time, like a rabbit caught in headlights, I did what any new mum did; chat lots about how and when I would wean number one, purchase a copy of Annabel Karmel’s book and stock up on lots of gender specific coloured pots and spoons! I was so ready to discover this new phase of parenthood, that I was probably more ready than she was! Blender ready, every organic dried snack on the market stocked and a chock a block freezer, I began our journey to food with Imogen at about 4/5 months old. I cant be sure about how many weeks she was, but if I did look back on Facebook I know that I took a picture of the first time she tried baby rice.
I used to make such huge portions of food for what was a tiny baby and more of it went all over her and up her nose than actually in the mouth! Who cares it was like some fun social experiment to see how many strange faces she could pull at each new food! I was absolutely adamant that my baby wasn’t having any of that jar food nonsense and that she would absolutely never EVER eat a packet of wotsits. Or heaven forbid taste a McDonald’s or a few chocolate buttons until she was like 5. Hmmmm. Aspirations are wonderful aren’t they? Reality however is slightly different.
I did however stick to making all of my own baby food, purely to punish and exhaust myself more…no really because I weirdly liked making them and because it made me feel better about my mothering abilities! I am sure there was the odd occasion when I gave number one something not homemade in them early days. But when I did make a purchase I was drawn to those Ella’s kitchen type pouches, as they simply read ‘organic’ which in the parenting world translates as ‘gold’ right? After many, many months on those tasteless organic vegetable type wotsits we eventually moved on to much cheaper alternatives, such as Skips, Quavers and real life wotsits! Funnily enough these went far quicker than those tasteless organic ones! And her first ever taste of McDonald’s was much later than number twos was. Still however racked with awful guilt and shame. I definitely did not take the shameless balloon out of my car for all to see where I had been! And I wasn’t one of those mummies with their child munching away happily in their buggy with their happy meal on show. Silly really!! Oh and as for chocolate buttons it was one for baby, two for mummy…
Number twos journey to weaning began at 5 months and I was like “This better make him bastard sleep”. “Feed em up to shut em up” that was the advice from my lovely Nan! Talking of advice, weaning is just like the subject of bottle or breastfeeding, what is ‘best’ and when to start can be met with a lot of tension! If like me with number one and two you wean before the six month mark, you may keep it hidden like some dirty little secret, just like how you enjoy watching trashy MTV shows! This was me, not bragging about weaning early, but if the subject was approached I replied with caution and would say things like “Oh he is just always so hungry, feeding like every hour”. Everything I said was a defence, like I was saying “I’m honestly not a bad mum, leading them into a life of obesity, heart disease and a zillion allergies”.
Why an earth I didn’t have the confidence to say, “I have decided it is now the right time for baby and I”, END OF. So with number two, I started much the same with all the blending of vegetables and puree of fruits until we moved onto our blended up dinners. I still had that Annabel Karmel book, but I must say I didn’t look at it once, in fact it’s still in my kitchen on the shelf! Sorry Annabel this mum has her own ideas! I moved number two onto our food reasonably quickly and found he was quite sensitive to dairy. Two many pettiti filous meant two many poonamis. I have picture proof of those too but for some reason that never made it onto Facebook!
So now with number three, I have started again with the blended up, mashed up vegetables and fruit and she is guzzling down everything I give her, which leads me to think waiting until six months may not have been best for her! In fact I think she was a bit starving!OOPS. Whenever you start weaning, is a decision only a mother or father who knows their baby well can decide. Advise is insightful but also at times unhelpful. Just because a mother doesn’t make her own baby food doesn’t make her a bad mother or mean her baby is less healthy than yours. And giving your child wotsits, or chocolate buttons or even a ‘dirty’ McDonald’s, does however mean you are quite normal!
What’s your weaning journey been like? Share with me your stories on Facebook? Also find me on Instagram not to miss my often daily picture posts!