Like most parenting topics out there, weaning is a rather personal subject. A quick search online reveals the sheer amount of approaches, philosophies and techniques that parents must sift through (and attempt to make sense of) during the earlier months of their babies’ lives.
When there are many ways of doing things, you’ll find many people who’ll tell you that their way of doing things is the right way. That’s not what I intend to do here.
Whenever I get into a discussion about the trials of early parenthood, one of the things that I quickly recall is the frustration I felt whenever Kate went through a fussy phase and refused food. I’d like to think I’ve grown a lot since then. For starters, I don’t act like a disgruntled MasterChef contestant who has served the losing dish when Kate turns her nose up at my creations. No, I no longer take her dislike of food personally anymore. In addition to that #progress, I’ve also adopted a few mantras which I repeat to myself when the spoon goes flying or when I’m picking orzo out of my hair.
Mantra #1: It Is Just A Phase And She Will Eat, One Day
Whether it’s an actual dislike for what you prepared, or if it’s teething, a sleep regression or sickness, fussy phases are normal. If your kiddo keeps refusing the fancy meals you keep cooking up, don’t lose heart, they will eat eventually. Not many ‘fussy eaters’ actually remain fussy through their teenage/adult lives. This leads me to mantra number two.
Mantra #2: Sometimes Simple Is Key
Put down the weaning recipe books. I spent way too much time and energy attempting to make tailored recipes for Kate. Most of the time she’d refuse to eat whatever I cooked up and prefered the nutritious, wholesome dishes I would cook for my husband and I. There are a range of good resources out there that can inspire you (be them blogs, books or even Instagram accounts) but try not to let them overwhelm you into thinking that you need to spend ages in the kitchen making patties, fritters and pancakes (yes, these are three entirely-different-but-very-much-identical circular foods).
Mantra #3: Variety Is The Spice Of Life But It’s Really Ok If You Keep Reaching For The Eggs*
*Replace the word ‘eggs’ with that food your kid eats almost five times a week. You know the one. The quick meal you know they’ll like. The one you pretend you’re not going to make again but you’re actually just lying to yourself. In our case that’s eggs.
Yes, offering your baby a selection of food is important and is likely to develop good eating habits. But it really is not the end of the word if you’ve got staple meals that your kiddo has taken a liking to and that you keep dishing out. I mean, look at my generation. We were basically brought up on ‘Bovril With Tiny Pasta’ dinners and we’re doing alright-ish.
Mantra #4: Keep Offering (Until You’re About To Lose Your Sh*t)
Even though I just mentioned the repeated return to staple foods, you’re probably going to want to try broaden your child’s palette at some point. Most weaning advice will tell parents to keep offering foods even if they’ve been refused once or twice before. There are specific strategies on how to do this so as to not frustrate your little one. And my strategy on how to not frustrate the parent is: offer until you’re fed up of offering it. If there’s something that you really want your baby to like (in our case it was bananas, simply for their ease) and she refuses over and over again…step away from the ingredient and revisit when you’re both less traumatised. I am happy to disclose that Kate now loves bananas and I am pretty sure that has nothing to do with my efforts.
Mantra #5: Let It All Be Water Off A Duck’s Back
As I mentioned before, there is a LOT of weaning advice out there. This is made even harder by the fact that weaning research has changed DRASTICALLY since we ourselves were kids. So in the event that you’re given unsolicited weaning advice (which you will be, I promise) just keep your head held high and stick to what YOU want to do. People telling you you’re weaning wrong? You’re depriving your kid because you’ve started weaning “late”? Or maybe you’re weaning too early? Too strict with what foods you give? Not strict enough? Just smile and wave guys, smile and wave.
So there you have them. The five statements that got me through the weaning transition and that still get me through the fussy phases. So next time you’re in a food-related battle with your babe, take a breather and revisit this post. Or just give them bread and call it a day.