Our next Guest Blogger for National Tell A Story Month is Helene. An extremely familiar post that resonates well with us, giving a frighteningly accurate account of the woes of weaning. A perfect post just in time for National Weaning Week. For anyone going through this process give it a read, it reminds you that you’re not the only one muddling through! Enjoy.
For the Love of Weaning by Helene
I’m a mum of a two year old and a nine month old, this is what I know about weaning.
After bringing my first baby home and a disastrously emotional negotiation of the breast feeding or formula feeding minefield, I was sceptical about weaning. It looked like a big deal and as a dedicated ‘eater’ I was very keen to get it right.
My first hurdle was standing my ground about when and how we would be putting food into the baby. My standpoint was she needs to be able to sit up, be interested in food and be over six months old. We began in earnest. This is what I found out…
– My kids are not neat eaters. I needed bibs, hundreds of bibs. Long sleeved affairs with neck to knee coverage and no escape option for the child doing the noshing.
– We have our baby wipes on our Amazon subscription service. We’ve had to double it, order it early and supplement it with trips to the shops to buy more wipes. Some meals are known as ‘16 wipers’. For some meals the only option is to strip the child down to their nappy and run an early bath.
– I spend four times as much time cleaning up after a meal as I do shovelling it into the child. My wiping, mopping, dishwasher admin and disposal of food skills have improved vastly over the past 18 months.
– The wiping isn’t just restricted to household surfaces, wiping my kids makes them angry. Really angry. And anger is not really what you want at the end of a meal. Especially if you spent 3hrs making Pinterest inspired finger food that involved 16 steps and specialist ingredients only available from the BIG Tesco.
– Highchairs are hideous but absolutely necessary things. I wanted the moon on a stick; something that doesn’t need wiping so intimately that you feel you need to ask for consent, something that doesn’t trip you up repeatedly and something your child will happily sit in. It took us a while but we found a chair that works for us. Yes, it’s that pricey Nordic one, and yes I love it – no straps means I can retrieve a choking baby in seconds and being able to have the kids eating from the table from an early age has meant they enjoy meals more. I think?
– Weaning involves choking. I did the baby first aid course, I practiced on a plastic dummy, I knew the drill. What the first aid people don’t tell you is that if you have to up end your child and smack them sharply behind the shoulder blades five times you will feel triumphant for saving the child’s life but your child will HATE you. For a fortnight. Also, nobody tells you how silent choking is. They make no noise, nothing. Not even a whimper. Just what you needed to make weaning even more FUN!
– Eating out is never the same again. Restaurant eating becomes a high octane sport. Will the highchair be a death trap? Will they eat anything? Should we put a tactical banana in the nipper before we go? Do we have enough snacks? Will there be enough wipes? Can we eat too? Should I take a spoon? What about milk? Will they cry?
It’s relentless but eating out is worth persevering with. Invariably kids rise to the challenge and eat out well, the drama, the drinks, the colouring sheets, the waiters, the ice cream all helps. It’s taken us a while and it’s taken some hard work. Restaurant behaviour was a huge deal for us because we love eating out.
We’ve found that the trick is to arrive when it’s quiet(ish). Make sure the kids aren’t starving, a tactical banana is always helpful. We usually order the kids food as soon as we arrive and aim for them to be on their pudding when we’re eating our main course. Over time we’re getting to a point where the toddler understands that there will be some waiting involved when we’re in a restaurant. They’ve also learnt that standing on the highchair and shouting “hello everybody!” isn’t always welcome and at some point towards the end of the meal mummy will disappear under that table with the wipes to clear up some of the food they’ve discarded. To clarify, I clear up enough to be welcomed back to the restaurant – I show willing, I’m more likely to be more thorough if the service has been good.
– The Dog. Our dog is a bit of a fussy eater, he’ll hang around waiting for the scraps to fall but there’s no guarantee that he’ll do the job properly. If you can, get a small, hungry mongrel and train it to remain in stealth mode under the table until the kids have finished eating, then release the hound and celebrate your wisdom.
Weaning is boring and frustrating and relentless, make the most of the milk days. Weaning is sh*t.