Emily’s first encounter with food came when she was 26 weeks old, just two days short of turning six months. This is the recommended age to start solid food and Dan and I have always been keen to listen to the advice offered by people who know their stuff.
Dan booked the week off work and I prepared all the “accessories” that I thought we need for weaning. I bought high chairs, Doidy cups, plastic plates and bowls, bibs and a selection of Tupperware. It was wonderful, guilt-free shopping! Every time the postman would knock on the door to deliver another parcel, I just look at Dan, shrug my shoulders and say “What?! It’s for weaning!” Dan didn’t seem to mind then.
The big day finally came and it was stupidly hectic, but we managed to fit in a spot of lunch. This was our first opportunity to see how Emily would respond to food. We strapped her into her high chair, put her bib on, filled up her Doidy with water and then placed two sticks of cucumber in front her. We both did our best to let her get on with and not stare too much. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long for something to happen. The cucumber sticks had barely landed in front of her when out comes a chubby little hand to redirect it into her mouth. And that was it. Emily’s first food! Granted she quickly pulled it back out again, looked it and then us with pure confusion, but it was back in the mouth in no time.
For us there has been no looking back since. Emily has had a huge variety of food. For vegetables she has had potato, carrot, brown onion, red onion, a rainbow selection of peppers, parsnips, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes in all shapes and sizes, courgette, aubergine, runner beans, peas, mange tout. Fruit she has had apples, pears, strawberries, orange, satsumas, raspberries, melon, mango, plums, avocado, pineapple, banana. Meat she has had chicken, pork, beef, lamb, turkey. She’s even had more than one type of fish too, tuna and cod, which is shocking for me.
Dan and I have done our best to be as creative as we can when it comes to meals and aim to make things as exciting as possibly for everyone. However, two months down the line and your culinary flare begins to falter. It’s not that I can’t think of good ideas, nor is it that I don’t have the time or even that I’m lazy. It’s just that after two hours of simmering a paella made from scratch with freshly bought, chopped, washed and fried ingredients to see it used both as a fingering painting set and to redecorate your kitchen breaks your heart a little bit.
Currently my day goes like so: boob, play, prepare breakfast, “eat” breakfast, clean up after breakfast, boob, nap, play, boob, prepare lunch, “eat” lunch, clean up after lunch, nap, boob, play, boob, prepare dinner, “eat” dinner, bath time, PJs, boob, bedtime, clean up after dinner, boob, sit down, boob, go to bed! And apparently I’m meant to fit some effing snacks in there somewhere too. Not mention meeting some developmental milestones and changing a few nappies. Weaning rapidly turns into a void in which you shovel all free time.
That said I love baby led weaning! I love that we can eat out as a family and Emily enjoys the same food that Dan and I do. Plus the food provides a good source of entertainment. Smearing avocado over a table at Nandos will occupy an 8 month old for a good few minutes, leaving me free to eat chicken and hold a conversation. A hefty supply of said avocado can mean you finish your meal with happy faces all round.
Yes there are days when Emily has carrot sticks because they make no mess. Yes there is food stuck to the underside of the kitchen table that I can’t remember having. And yes meals have been consumed with the entire family sat in the underwear to avoid doing the washing. But Emily loves foods and we love watching her enjoy it. Particularly when you see her swallow and that giant sized bit of broccoli disappears forever. Well not quite forever…