I thought weaning was going to be great craic. I mean I was really looking forward to it. Yes, I was one of those mums who went out and bought the lot… those teeny tiny pots, colourful spoons, bowls, mats, bibs and even a snazzy food processor. I was ready to embrace weaning with open arms.
I’m a person who lives to eat, not eats to live… to quote Julia Child – ‘people who love to eat are always the best kind of people!’
I adore food. New tastes, new cuisines, food opens up the world and of course I wanted to pass that on to my little dude.
I envisioned myself making lots of little pots of meals from my snazzy Nevin Maguire and Annabel Karmel books, everything homemade and carefully prepared and the satisfaction I’d get from watching my little dude enjoy them and discover new tastes.
Yeah, that was all bullshit.
For me, weaning turned out to be a complete nightmare. From slaving over the stove and processor making huge batches of meals that he had one bite of and hated, to getting food thrown all over the place, to him refusing to eat anything, to only eating bloody Ella’s pouches, to clamping his little gob shut when the spoon would come his way, it was awful. I didn’t go how I thought it would at all.
I started to get really upset over the whole thing. Most days, I end up being reduced to tears; worrying about him not eating properly. I literally came to dread mealtimes with him.
To make matters worse I was only just coming out of the haze of post-natal depression. At that time, I was still searching for myself in uncertainty of motherhood and the disappointment of weaning made me feel like I was a failure all over again. It became this daily battle that began to wear me down. I desperately wanted to introduce him to healthy foods, to have him be a well-rounded eater who would accept veggies and fruits from the get go.
But it didn’t turn out like that and it was starting to bring me back to the dark depths I’d only just clawed my way out of…
Something had to change.
Fast forward to today and he’s now 20 months old. He’s big and bold and to be honest his eating habits are not great.
He mainly lives on a diet of yogurt, cheese, muesli and ketchup! On the days when I can get him to eat say fish or pasta or lasagne or a few peas and carrots (yes smothered in ketchup), it’s like I’ve actually won the lotto… sad, but true.
What I’ve learned is that I can’t let myself get upset about his food. As trite as it sounds, he will not and so far, has not starved. Although, when I was right in the middle of weaning hell and people would trot that line out to me, I’d feel like punching them in the face… I do understand that saying ‘he won’t starve’ is absolutely no help, but it is true.
I’ve clearly made lots of mistakes in terms of weaning, despite my best of intentions. I also think I’m guilty of letting him snack too much at times and on the days when I let him snack less, he’s more willing to eat his main meal. Also I’ve found other ways to get veggies or fruits into him. Through smoothies, yogurts and those freeze dried fruit snacks. Also making pasta sauces and pesto’s with whizzed up veggies and of course soup is always a great way to get something healthy into him.
But as I’m learning, his taste buds are his own and they constantly amaze me… like he’ll eat truffle ravioli but won’t touch a chicken nugget… go figure!
I’ve no doubt he’ll get there… but for now I’m not going to push things. He’s a super active child, always running, walking, climbing and exploring, so I’m happy to relax more about his food because we’ve got a good level of activity at the moment.
Ultimately, finding a balance in motherhood in general is key and food is no exception… but the main part of it all has been me learning not to get so het-up about eating habits for now and accepting that it will happen in time.