When it comes to being Evelina’s mama, I have been surprised at how much came naturally. Admittedly, I had done a lot of preparatory reading while I was pregnant but once she was born, I found myself abandoning the ‘how tos’, opting to go with my gut and for the most part, this worked out just fine.
And then came weaning. For some reason, I have struggled with the whole solid food thing from the get-go. It is an area which I have never felt relaxed about. I wonder if this is because of my own complex and sometimes dysfunctional relationship with food (I am overweight and I struggle to be disciplined with food) or whether it is because food is one of the most basic needs we have as a human being so I know now important it is that Evelina eats enough of the right things.
Evelina’s teeth didn’t grow very quickly and I think that had an impact on the types of food that she was able to enjoy. While the NHS advice was to have them eating what we were eating as soon as possible, this just didn’t seem practical when she couldn’t chew. I relied heavily on organic baby food and found the baby food brand websites like HiPP Organic a useful source for weaning advice and recipes. I also got a lot of advice from friends. One tip was to replicate the pre-prepared baby food that Evelina enjoyed. I also did a lot of batch cooking, although I tended to keep the recipes fairly simple since it was hit and miss whether she was going to eat them. Annabel Karmel is a very popular source of recipes and advice but her books are so complicated and use so many ingredients that I found it totally demoralising. I would spend ages making this delicious meal that Evelina would then refuse, while Rich and I were eating beans on toast!
Nowadays, I still struggle with it but it is getting easier – I find it hard for her to eat what we are eating every day since she eats so early and when I am working, I can’t get a meal ready for her and us in time for tea. And she would eat cheese sandwiches for every meal, if she had her way. I am constantly worried she isn’t eating enough (of the right things at least) or eating too much. I still use shop-bought baby food occasionally and I try not to beat myself up about this since I always buy the ‘better’ brands with only good things in them. I am starting to realise that when Evelina goes through phases – she will eat well for a few days or even weeks and then will go back to having less food. I think I just have to go with it and resist the urge to keep offering different food if she isn’t interested in what I have given her. While her teeth are still coming through, she is bound to have days which are better than others and I just need to make sure she isn’t developing fussy eating habits.
So now I am sticking to some these principles:
- keep it simple
- save food for Evelina from our meals where possible for the next day’s lunch or tea
- batch cook when I have time and freeze in portions
- stop worrying – she certainly seems to be thriving!