It’s all a bit mind blowing really. One minute your baby is happily slurping away on milk and the next a whole new world awaits you. One filled with textures, flavours and quite frankly, a whole lot of mess.
I, like most first time mums, was quite excited at the prospect of weaning my baby. I breastfed exclusively up until six months and the very day of his half-birthday (it’s a thing, trust me), we tried him on his first food. What was it you ask? A raw carrot.
To be fair, that may be where we went wrong.
We played with weaning for the next few weeks with little success. Every now and then we’d chuck a bit of food in his direction, hoping that something would pass his ever increasing standards and make it into his mouth. He played with carrot, he mushed banana, he pushed away broccoli. And then one day, parsnip made it to the hallowed ground and went past his lips. A couple chews and it went down. A couple gags and it came right back up… accompanied by a whole heap of projectile milk. Great.
From then onwards, he barely touched food. Nothing seemed to pique his interest. It was as if he was traumatised. I continued to breastfeed him whilst attempting meal after meal for him, none of which hit the spot. He’d mush a bit into his hands and that was it. It was completely and utterly soul destroying.
We constantly questioned ourselves. Had we done something wrong by trying to go down a baby led weaning route? Was it our fault he hated purees? Should we be forcing the spoon into his mouth just to get him to try things? It didn’t feel right to push food onto him when all he wanted was milk.
What if he only ever drinks milk?
What if his lack of food starts to affect his growth?
Are we failing as parents?
Whenever we met up with friends they’d whip out a variety of foods for their babies who’d happily gum away at a breadstick quietly whilst my child roared with tears and refused the lovingly pre-prepared cucumber sticks. I’d laugh it off but inside be worrying that there was something seriously wrong. Why wasn’t my child keeping up with his cohorts? Why was he so much slower at eating?
We repeatedly quoted the awful saying ‘food before one is just for fun’. It became our mantra. Which was hilarious because it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Food before one was not fun. It was far from it.
Eventually, I asked the Health Visitor. His weight was fine but he SHOULD be eating more. We discussed the frequency of his feeds and she told me to cut his feeds down to just two a day. Two. At seven months old. It felt completely and utterly wrong. He couldn’t survive on two milk feeds a day. I didn’t want to starve him into submission. I didn’t want to force him to comply with my wishes by taking away his source of comfort. It didn’t fit with my parenting style. It didn’t feel right.
And so we carried on. Surviving on yoghurt, blueberries and a shed load of milk we plodded on. I stopped trying to force food on him. We ignored food all together and just focused on enjoying our time together rather than fussing about meals. Weaning took a back seat. Really, really far back.
After Christmas, I thought. We’ll crack it then.
And then on Christmas day, he reached for a parsnip. We placed it in front of him thinking it would quickly make it’s way onto the floor and into the dog. But it didn’t. He sucked on it and sucked on it and it stayed down. He had another and a bit of potato, looking around at our shocked faces as if to say “see, I don’t know what you were worried about”.
That night, I cried. For the first time in months I felt like we were getting somewhere. He’d barely eaten anything but it was SOMETHING. We were making progress.
Since then he’s slowly started to come round to trying food. He’ll suck on a bit of toast, chew at strawberries and surprisingly adores dried mango. At nursery, the routine comment is ‘he tried a little’. Ok, it’s not enough to keep him going but it’s something. It’s a step in the right direction. A tiny, baby step.
So to all parents looking forward to weaning their baby, I pass on this advice. Don’t worry if it doesn’t ‘click’ with your child. Don’t panic if they don’t seem interested. Take it at your own speed. Listen to your child and remember, we all get there eventually; no adult survives on milk alone.
Oh and one last thing….
Food before one is just for fun!
About Devon Mama
Devon Mama is run by Hayley; a 30 year old mama, wife and recovering sleep addict. Living with her husband, baby and the world’s bounciest dog in rural Devon, Hayley can be found attempting to cook, Googling everything and embracing the strange new world that is parenting. Add in a house with ‘a lot of potential’ and a return to her ‘real’ job as a Company Director and it’s organized chaos at the best of times.
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