📝 Freelance writer, Podcaster & Raising Awareness
Talking all things Men’s Mental Health, family and the environment
Dad to Edie & Arlo
Lover of all creatures great and small 🐳🐕 🐢
Much like any responsibility you have with your child, weaning can be pretty daunting. Children are dependent on you for the food that’s going to help them grow and er, essentially stay alive. Pressure. But it’s not all bad…
In an ideal world, we’d all be blending every super-powered fruit and veg into a gorgeously healthy mix that our children would eat with no fuss, but here’s the thing, we don’t live in an ideal world.
Weaning is tough. There’s a lot of trial and error; one day a baby might wolf down a broccoli, kale and lentil blend like some health and fitness influencer on Instagram, then the next, throw it against the kitchen wall and the only thing they’ll consider putting near their mouth is an extra-soggy Weetabix.
Then when more solids come into play, somehow, somewhere the food Gods have engrained into children’s tiny minds that green food is bad. Why, oh why won’t children eat green vegetables? Unless it’s cucumber, of course, that’s fine apparently (but I’m pretty sure cucumbers are just one step away from being water).
Add to this the issue around time, or indeed lack of it. In the early days when you’re repeatedly getting a blender out, chopping vegetables, feeding the baby and then cleaning up the resulting bombsite, takes a long time. Then as they grow, little ramekins of hearty warm meals are lovingly prepared over an afternoon but then rejected by your youthful in-house food critic, so end up being given to the dog.
Ideally, we’d all love to create similar mixtures that the likes of Piccolo produce from scratch ourselves, but a lot of us live full-on lives that don’t always allow for such creations. So, it’s no wonder that parents reach for the quick wins that are ready-made sachets and other weaning foods.
Our daughter was a great eater, but not through any miraculous techniques that we applied, I think we just got lucky. She’d eat fish, egg, vegetables, fruit, basically anything we gave her, which was a godsend after our previous struggles with breastfeeding. We thought we had this whole weaning thing nailed and we were smashing life as parents. But then three years later our son came along and we struggled to get anything down him during the weaning stage. Bugger, perhaps we weren’t such great parents after all? For a long time, all he’d eat was avocado and yoghurt – ok, there could be worse things to live off, but he wasn’t getting much variation. We managed to get some goodness down him with lots of perseverance and distractions (I do great aeroplane impressions with a spoon), but a lot of the time we had to call on our backup; ready-made sachets. In time, his appetite changed as did his willingness to try new foods, but it helped us hugely during that time knowing we always had said back-up (by the way, he won’t touch avocados now – kids huh? God damn the colour green).
I believe the key to weaning is perseverance with a variation in diet and textures (much the same as anyone’s good food habits really), but as per our experiences, that’s not always possible. So, when the kids are having a meltdown, the dog’s throwing up the contents of a discarded ramekin, the delivery man is frantically ringing the doorbell and you’re late to take your eldest to football, having that go-to food that is quick, easy and importantly healthy is going to help massively during weaning. It might be some small pasta pieces mixed with stock, some scrambled egg or a sachet, but it will be a godsend when the stresses of real life as a parent of a young child are intensified.
The weaning stage, like most stages of parenting, has ups and downs, but like most parenting decisions, you’re in control. You can decide to give them a healthy homemade dish, but you can also decide not to be despondent if it hasn’t been well received on a particular occasion. That’s where the go-to can come into play and you and your baby will be a lot happier.