Final chapter in my ABC of Weaning:
[NOTE- written before coronavirus hit, and wow does it show! Stay safe you guys.]
I wrote the first two Weaning ABC posts for a friend with twins 3 months younger than mine, so I was trying to be encouraging that BLW is totally doable with two. Rereading now I’m out of the haze of the first year, I’m worried they come off somewhat preachy. If so, I AM SO SORRY.
I generally try not to be a knob, and contributing to the preachy parental one-upmanship (one-upmumship??) culture is a knobish thing to do. I certainly don’t want anyone to feel rubbish about their weaning choices: FFS we’ve all got to teach them to eat, and there really is no right way. Aspirational instagrams are all very well, but the reality is that time and energy are in short supply in most parents’ lives. There has to be a compromise between lovingly prepared and speedily convenient: and that is no bad thing.
Just to illustrate that I am by no means one of those handmake-everything scorn-shop-bought foodie types, here is a list of Aria’s favourite foods by age:
- 6-12 months: Ella’s mango pouch
- 12-18 months: raisins. By the handful
- 18-24 months: chips. Not sweet potato wedges or sautéed bits of organic baked potato, no no. Triple cooked pub chips, ideally with ketchup and mayonnaise. She can be heard chanting “Chips! Chips! Chips!” as soon as we pass through the doorways of various north London establishments.
Meanwhile, Luna’s favourite food? “Cake!”
The reason for this is simple… We want to live our lives! We want to take the girls to all sorts of fun places, and we want to eat with them, because sharing food is one of life’s biggest pleasures. And we don’t just mean sharing with the babies. And so there has to be compromise!
Imagine I’m trying to catch up with a dear friend over coffee. Given the option of actually having an adult conversation, by giving each baby a pouch of pureed fruit (approx satisfaction time: 20 blissful minutes), versus spending that 20 minutes trying to exchange halting half-sentences whilst devoting the majority of my attention to relentless baby entertainment - no prizes for guessing what I’d do. And I’d regret nothing!
If we’ve all braved the weather to go on a wintry walk, and wound up in a Gastropub to enjoy a sorely needed pint of IPA and a plate of something deliciously restorative, how hypocritical would it be of us to give the babies a cucumber and some salt-free hummus when they wake up and see us dipping deep-fried potato wedges into a glorious garlic mayo?
At the other end of the fun spectrum, every time I’ve found myself in the supermarket with everybody crying, and I have the rest of the shop or (dear god no) a mammoth queue to get through, damn right I am giving them a ginger biscuit to gnaw at whilst I soldier on! That’s basically a public service.
I guess what I’m trying to say is–although I do all these things, I’m not apologising for them whatsoever. It’s real life, and actually, it’s pretty enjoyable. Our babies are well socialised, and we haven’t alienated (many of) our friends in the process.
(By the way: although BLW has the reputation of being all about the organic avocado smash, actually the core tenet is about eating the same thing, together. So if we’re sharing a bowl of cheesy chips we are in fact right on message!)
I’m a big believer in exposure. Show them green leafy vegetables aren’t yucky by eating them yourself, often, and with gusto. Work out how to cook veg so you enjoy it and cook it again and again. Mix it up and eat it often. Model the eating habits you would like them to pick up on.
I know very few adults who go through the day without a tasty treat or two, especially when life gets hard. It’s not just unrealistic but also naive to try and keep all indulgent food out of my children’s mouths – and actually, I suspect it would be detrimental to do that anyway. Much better to expose small amounts of sweet substances occasionally, than for the kid to be buried under an avalanche of sugar when it finally gets out of my clutches. That would pave the way to addiction on a major scale.
So yes, we eat broccoli; we try to minimise salt and sugar; we offer fresh fruit and veg every day unless something major has happened (and yes: a hangover counts as something major!) But we also enjoy pizza, veggie burgers, chips, puddings. And they get bites of this also, without judgement or guilt. The idea is we’re showing them how we eat, and placing the emphasis on enjoyment rather than discipline. We’re not pushing foods we wouldn’t eat ourselves, or punishing anyone for not finishing their plate. We’re just… sharing everything.
And honestly, I think it’s the best of both worlds.