I decided recently that I would do a few posts about food. I’m not pretending to be a chef, a cook or even an aspiring food blogger. I just want to record what and how I feed my family.
I’m not saying it’s right or that it’s better than any other way. It’s just what we do in our house. It’s what works for us and I’d like to be able to look back on it and to share it with my daughters.
When my first daughter turned five months I did a lot of frantic reading about methods for weaning. The mainstream puréeing of everything, the more ‘hippy’ baby lead (For the record I think it’s a bad name), and the more radical ‘colours’ and raw foods methods. I knew that my eldest daughter was sensitive to cows milk through my breast milk so I was very cautious about what we were going to give her for her first foods. No buttery toast here!
In my usual style I took bits and pieces from everything that I had read and came up with a plan for us that was a bit of a mish mash. I thought of it as The Lazy Mums Guide to Weaning. There was no way that I was going to spend hours and hours puréeing and freezing everything. It just didn’t make sense to me and I’d rather spend my time doing other things. The human race managed a long time without a blender! This didn’t mean I was going to follow the ridiculously named Babyled weaning route because some foods are just easy to eat with a spoon. Simple as that.
Two scientific studies stuck with me though. One showed that a child’s taste preferences are programmed during the womb and their first year. Lots of sweet stuff and you’re building a further problem. Fair enough, that made sense to me. The other was that adults and children who eat in front of the TV pay less attention to their food and consequently eat more. Generally obese people eat their meals on sofa in front of the telly rather than at a table with their family.
So, aside from having a little suck and a gnaw on cold carrot, cucumber and apple sticks during teething, my daughter’s first food was avocado. It was mashed with a fork and served at the dinner table using a spoon.
She hated it.
Ahhh. So you can read as many books as you like and buy the most nutritious, organic, local, healthy food but you can’t force your children to eat it. This was an important parenting lesson for me.
After that first faltering start things went quite smoothly. Whatever vegetables we were having with our evening meal were presented to my daughter for her dinner and lunch the next day. I offered chunks/cubes/sticks/florets for her to try a bit of self feeding while I fork mashed the rest and fed it to her with a spoon. After a week and a wide variety of veg I introduced fruit and started combining items and adding herbs. Mashed sweet potato with chives was a favourite during this time.
Next I gradually added cheese and yoghurt. I stuck to natural bio live yoghurt which I added fruit to myself because I couldn’t find any shop bought varieties that weren’t full of sugar. I have since found that Rachel’s Organic doesn’t have added sugar but every other type such as the really popular petit filous are loaded with it.
The last thing I added was cows milk. Initially it made my daughter sick. I was advised to add it very gradually so we did. It gave my daughter eczema, a stomach ache and a constant runny nose. We changed to goats milk and the symptoms lessened but didn’t go away. Finally we changed to almond and coconut milk. The change was almost instantaneous. All her symptoms vanished. Now the whole family drinks alternative milks and we feel much healthier for it.
My daughters appetite and interest in food grew quickly and she was soon grabbing and reaching for the foods on our plates. We followed this same plan of for weaning with our second daughter too. She, however, loved her avocado and almost every other food that she has been presented with.
Finally, if we’re travelling or have had a difficult night/day/week I don’t beat myself up for using the odd pouch of organic food like Plum or Ellas Kitchen. The conditions under which those foods are made are much more stringent than the methods used in my kitchen. Parenthood is full of challenges, guilt and judgement. We all need a break and a helping hand every now and then.