Jo’s Weaning Story

Jo @slummysinglemummy

👩‍🍳Foodie, Mini-Breaks & Money Matters
Mum to Bee & Belle, & Grandmother to Joey
Lover of cats 🐈🐈🐈

My grandson Joey turned six months old in December and a couple of weeks ago he had his very first taste of solid food. We all gathered round – my daughter Bee, her partner Mike, me, and my younger daughter Belle.

“You hold him,” Bee said to Mike, “and I’ll do the spoon. Mum, you video it,” she said to me. “Belle, make sure his hands don’t get in the way.”

It was very much a case of “how many adults does it take to feed a baby” but we didn’t mind, it was exciting. It felt like a big landmark in Joey’s life, a shift from him being a baby to something a little bit more – a tiny person about to embark on a new part of his life, experiencing new things and developing new tastes and preferences.

Joey seemed surprised by his first mouthful of Piccolo puree, and rightly so. Can you imagine what it must be like to have nothing but milk for your entire life and then suddenly have a spoonful of mashed fruit in your mouth? He quickly cottoned on though and has been tucking into new flavours ever since.

Bee sent me a message this week though that reminded me that even when the practical elements of weaning go smoothly, there’s still an awful lot of pressure on new parents to get it right.

“I’m feeling really overwhelmed by this whole weaning thing,” she wrote. “He’s doing so well but I’m going to need to start cooking him actual meals soon and I don’t know how I’m going to know if he’s eating the right things or eating enough? I’m going to do a meal plan and try and include stuff we can all eat together but it just seems such a crazy amount of pressure – it impacts their eating habits for their whole life. What did you feed me? What do people do?”

I wanted to include the whole message because it captures everything so brilliantly, doesn’t it? Weaning isn’t just about mashing up a banana, it’s about creating a relationship with food and laying the foundations for healthy eating habits. When you think about it like that, it’s no wonder new parents can feel under such pressure to get it right.

The truth is that there is no “right” way to go about weaning and how it works best for you will depend on so many different factors, not least your own baby’s tastes and personality. I tried to think back to what I fed Bee at that age and vaguely remembered cubes of cheese and bowls of peas, marmite toast soldiers, and pasta swirls clutched in chubby hands. She loved tinned baby chocolate desserts and rice puddings and would generally join in with whatever we were eating.

Belle on the other hand pretty much refused anything but breastmilk until she was nearly a year old, around the time she got her first tooth. I’m not sure if the two are linked, but whatever the case she just wasn’t interested. Even when she did start to take an interest, it was in tiny amounts and I’d have to cut things up into small pieces and offer them casually so as not to scare her off. I don’t remember approaching weaning with Bee and Belle with different mindsets and yet they led me on very different weaning journeys.

The lesson from this I guess is that every family and every baby is different. Whether you have a six months old chowing down on three meals a day or a ten-month-old who only shows a passing interest, they all get there in the end. Having two grown-up children now I can certainly vouch for that!

I wasn’t sure exactly what advice to offer Bee, mainly because when it came to the “what did you feed me?” part of her question I couldn’t honestly remember a great deal! Advice has changed so much since she was a baby, on all sorts of things, would my own experiences even be appropriate nowadays?

All I can really do as a grandparent I think is to reassure her and support whatever she chooses to do. In the meantime, I just get to look forward to watching Joey’s chubby little fists clutching those Marmite toast soldiers.