Weaners (snurk)

Jeez, I guess there hasn’t been much space in real life lately. No new posts for ages…thank god I don’t have a fanbase.

Anyway, the main thing that has been taking up my time is weaning. Yes, Baby Bones is now eating human food and proving as much of a gannet for it as he has been for milk. Now, before I had one of my own I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t know thing one about babies; in fact, even now I wouldn’t class myself as having much of a clue, since knowing and loving my own dear little B doesn’t qualify me for universal understanding of these weird little creatures. Among the many things I did not know was how much of a heated topic weaning can be. The arguments that rage back and forth between parents about when and how to introduce solids are quite amazing, especially when you consider how bloody time consuming the actual process is. By the time I’ve put together a suitably nutritious breakfast, washed Baby B’s hands, located a bib, strapped him in the highchair, watched him eat, washed his hands again and cleared up the detritus it’s practically time for lunch. And that doesn’t even factor in the time spent worrying about salt content. Where people find time in their weaning-heavy day to have a dust-up over whether spoonfeeding is evil or not escapes me.

Having said that, it does make great entertainment. And I can understand it; food, at once such a basic necessity for human survival and one of the most richly exciting sensory adventures, is central to so much of our experience of life. No wonder people wig out about it so much. When Baby Bones was all new, Mr B’s most stressy moments came from watching him struggle to latch on. The worry that we would not be able to nourish our tiny infant was overwhelming.

So yeah, I get why people like to barney over methods. We have chosen to let little B feed himself – what is termed Baby Led Weaning, although I don’t like to call it this because as a term it is, as Aitch so memorably put it, ‘wanky wankola’ – and it’s been a real revelation to us all. I had no idea babies could pick up and eat normal food like this and would never have believed it before I saw it for myself. Ditto Mr B. As for Baby Bones, he just loves eating food – fruit, veg, savoury flapjacks, broccoli and cheese muffins, oatcakes with mackerel pate, pasta, lentil burgers, chicken, steak – all are grabbed up and shovelled in with untrammelled gusto, after being thoroughly squidged, smeared, sniffed and smiled at. Meanwhile I am free to eat my own meal, wash up, prepare more food, unload the washing machine and entertain my son with off-colour karaoke to Gold FM.

It’s hard not to feel a little bit superior in these circumstances and I will admit to feeling all evangelical and anti-spoon for about two weeks, especially when I saw friends struggling to spoonfeed their babies, getting all het up about how much they were taking, how to trick them into getting the right sort of mush down, how to keep clothes, hands and faces clean while eating (something I have not yet mastered at the age of 33). My goodness, thought I as I watched them dabbing hither and yon with their wet wipes, why don’t they just let the babies feed themselves? And to some extent I do still feel that way. Babies should be given more opportunity to feed themselves as (in my opinion) it helps them learn, it gives them power within the mealtime situation and it’s lots of fun. But after a while I started to just see mums caring about their babies and decided to stop being such a smug wanker and let them get on with parenting as they saw fit. After all, I’ve been blessed with a baby who is pretty easygoing – he’s made breastfeeding easy for both of us, he eats like a champ and he’s so much fun to be around. If we’d started BLW (cringe) and he refused to pick up a single thing I would be gnashing my teeth with worry and cursing smug weaners everywhere.

So, in the manner of Happy Days, this episode has wrapped with an instructive moral and a sea of happy faces. I will of course still be squeezing my judgement gland, as is the addictive right of all parents, but at least I’ll be doing it in private.


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