Baby weaning…expectation vs reality

I have a rather keen interest in leading a healthy lifestyle and a big part of that is have a diet full of nutritious and ‘clean’ foods. I was so excited to wean Rafe and get him on to solid foods. Being my first child I had no previous experience of the weaning process but I knew that I wanted him to eat fresh, unprocessed and where possible homemade baby food…I was so naive.

I love my food and I have been reliably informed that this has always been the case…my rather, er, chubby baby photos certainly seem to confirm it! I am not a ‘fussy’ eater, I may choose to avoid some foods but this isn’t always because I don’t like them it’s usually as part of a lifestyle choice. Unfortunately Rafe seems to be a little more picky than me when it comes to meal times. We started weaning at around 6 months as recommended by the NHS/our health visitors etc. I have to admit I didn’t really follow any structure I just let him try lots of different fruits and vegetables to see what he liked. Peaches, strawberries, cherries, carrots…they were all a hit and he seemed to enjoy trying new things. Naturally fruit was more popular than vegetables.

As he got older I had greater expectations for him to start eating three meals a day. At this point we had not introduced dairy as he had previously been intolerant to it as a newborn so we ordered this (super expensive) natural, and organic baby porridge from the states. The majority of baby porridge available in the uk seems to contain milk in some form and I didn’t really think that baby rice offered anything in the way of nutrition. The porridge was a flop (although he does eat it now) and eventually I decided to offer baby rice out of sheer desperation, which went down rather well!

I would also spend ages puréeing carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, peas etc only for them to be spat out after one or two mouthfuls. Whereas a shop bought Ella’s kitchen pouch would get wolfed down with no protest. I am completely aware that many people say that ‘food is for fun’ in the first year and it’s all about babies experiencing new textures and tastes but it’s just a little bit soul destroying as a mum when you just want to make sure they are getting the very best…and you spend ages steaming and ‘mushing’ up various fruits and vegetables only for them to be completely rejected.

As Rafe was more able to tolerate ‘meals’ I started trying him on things like pasta and mashed potatoes and vegetables with gravy made with the low salt stock cubes. We gradually started re-introducing dairy to his diet aswell, which now seems to be fine in moderation. Something that really seemed to help Rafe with his eating was allowing him to feed himself. I never intended to do Baby led weaning because it’s. So. Messy. There is nothing worse than watching your child fling their dinner that you have carefully prepared all over your lounge. All while you stare at them with an ‘encouraging’ fake smile plastered over your face. Silently dying inside at the thought of the clean up operation of baby and carpet. Word of advice don’t have beige or cream toned carpets if you plan on starting a family any time soon.

Now mealtimes consist of some finger foods on Rafe’s tray for him to feed himself and then dinner that we spoon feed him. He only likes to eat when somebody is eating with him. So I will have breakfast and lunch with him and then we all eat dinner as a family in the evening when Rick gets home from work. I try to make homemade meals for him most nights. He likes spaghetti bolognese and anything with tomatoes or peppers. I also make him batches of cottage pies or chicken pies topped with mash that I freeze in portion sized Ramekin dishes. And some nights he has a low salt version of whatever we are eating. I will hold my hands up and admit that some days he has jars of baby food though. Sometimes it’s just easier and when we find one he likes we buy a few so we have a fail safe meal for him in the cupboard ready to go. As far as him having three meals a day, well it’s a bit touch and go still. Some days he eats really well and other days he will only eat one solid meal (he is still breastfed so don’t worry he will not starve). At the moment he is teething and that always puts him off of his food.

I was getting myself incredibly stressed about his eating habits. I was concerned that he was too small but since his 8-12 month checkup I feel more reassured. He is following the 25th centile and he’s been on that since he was born. Yes he is a bit of a smaller baby (he was only 6lb 9 when he was born) but neither Rick or myself are large so it’s unlikely that he is going to be particularly heavy or tall. The thing I have learned since becoming a mum is that there is no point in trying to control everything. Sometimes you just have to go with your baby, they tend to do everything when they are ready and on their terms. Getting yourself stressed is only going to make mealtimes etc unpleasant. I have to admit my heart does still sink a little when I have to bin Rafe’s uneaten, homemade dinners but I am trying to have a more laid back approach….for the sake of my sanity!

What sort of healthy dinners do your babies/ toddlers enjoy? I would love any tips!

Jess xox

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