When it comes to weaning there seem to be three teams.
Team number one consists of those Mums who enjoy having total control of their baby’s eating. Armed with a couple of spoons (one for baby to hold and one for Mummy), they are often to be seen feeding baby whilst pretending that the spoon is a “Choo Choo train” or a plane. Meal times are quick and fairly mess free. Baby sometimes eats more than he should and is sick. This was the preferred method of my parents’ generation.
Team number two (my team) is the spoon feeder/finger food/muddle-through brigade. If baby is sufficiently hungry then the quick and easy spoon feeding experience described above should take place. If not, meal times can take hours with baby chomping (and gagging) on a cucumber stick, taking food from the spoon, grabbing the spoon, flicking food off the spoon, inserting hands into yoghurt and smearing it all over mummy’s head etc etc.
The final team is Team Baby Led. The Baby Led Weaners are a different kettle of fish all together. These little beings are introduced to the concept of self feeding right from the start and by the age of nine months are often to be seen in restaurants munching contentedly on a sandwich/Sunday Roast/steak as Mummy and Daddy relax and sip on their wine,congratulating themselves on how easy and hassle free mealtimes are. Not for the faint-hearted to begin with (the risk of choking is enough to put many Mums off), in the long run the benefits are endless. Your little one is an independent, happy, adventurous eater who will more than likely have a great relationship with food for the rest of his/her life.
BUT SOMETIMES BABY LED WEANING CAN GO WRONG.
My best friend who is a great advocate of the baby led route phoned me in despair the other day. “He’s out of control”, she said, “I can’t turn my back for one second without him feeding himself something awful”.
She then continued to list precisely what her one year old has eaten in the last month:
1. Tabasco from the bottle.
2. A raw onion (with skin)
3. He crawled onto the dining room table, grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl and ate it (with skin).
4. A raw broccoli straight out of the shopping bag (with plastic).
5. Spring onions/crispy duck from last night’s Chinese takeaway. (Straight from the bin).
6. He almost helped himself to a dead mouse found (much to his pleasure) in the fireplace of a cottage they were staying in.
The problem is that now she has encouraged her son to be a thoroughly independent little eater, she has to take the rough with the smooth and the raw garlic cloves with the homemade fish cakes.
So, if you’re about to go the baby-led weaning route, bear in mind that you might get a little more than you bargained for and if you’re stressed because like me you didn’t have the guts to do it, breathe a sigh of relief that the chances of your child helping himself to the dog’s dinner or a pineapple are smaller if not always a distinct possibility.