I was excited to begin weaning my little boy when he turned six months old. I love my food and I was thrilled for him that this whole new world of flavours would be opened up to him and I would be his guide.
Failure to Thrive
I haven’t always been good with food. My mother reports I was a fussy eater when I was a baby. Wotsits and boiled eggs were apparently firm favourites – they still are. “Failure to thrive” was stamped in my Red Record book long before I knew what those words meant, as I was consistently smaller than my peers.
I grew up on chicken dippers, chips and spaghetti hoops, which of course I never complained about, no child would. Everything was doused in ketchup, especially when any green made its way on to the plate.
Our Weaning Adventure
Despite still being a firm fan of chips and deep fried chicken, I have a much more varied diet now, especially since my son and I began what I will call ‘our weaning adventure’.
Whilst my parents may have had their own reasons for feeding us what they did, I desperately didn’t want my son’s view of food to be limited to this and so I needed to look at my own food choices and the food we ate as a family. I knew, for example, I needed to stop trying to find the solution to tiredness at the bottom of the biscuit barrel.
It was important for me that he could explore his food and receive a variety of tastes and textures, but in reality, my partner and I usually ate the same three to four meals on rotation each week. I wanted him to love his food, and I hoped that he would if I could make it exciting.
Getting a surprise vegetable box each week has inspired family meals with ingredients I had barely even seen before. Whether it was because of cost (avocados are expensive!) or just plain laziness (we all get stuck in a dinner rut sometimes) it was rare for me to stray away from the standard vegetables: carrots, broccoli, peppers, etc.
We have explored some first tastes together, reigniting my passion for food: kale, aubergine and peaches, to name a few. It was much to my partner’s amusement that I admitted to him that I had only tasted peaches before out of a tin.
Fish has become a weekly staple after introducing it to our baby. I felt we ate too much meat for him, so I experimented cooking with it and discovered as a family, we all enjoyed it. You guessed it, I had only eaten it battered or breaded before.
It was never ‘allowed’ in our family home growing up, I would assume due to the smell, which my Dad must have found frustrating the amount of Mackerel he would bring home from a weekend fishing trip. I didn’t really know how to cook it, despite being a keen viewer of Master Chef, but now I know how simple it is, I appreciate this wasn’t a valid excuse.
Weird and Wonderful
Weaning was the perfect time for me to buy new recipe books. As a new mum I am constantly looking for guidance on what is and isn’t ‘allowed’, but also it is useful to see visually what baby food looks like. I would normally be frustrated by the weird and wonderful fruit and vegetables that Joe Wicks, for example, uses in his recipes, but as we embarked on our adventure, weird and wonderful were exactly what we wanted.
Healthiness is not all about food. I have also found running to be a perfect excuse to get out on a Saturday morning free from the burden of dirty nappies and without a cumbersome buggy. Much needed me-time gives me the headspace I need after an exhausting week. I am still terribly unfit and don’t run very far, but for me the benefits to my mental health are equally as important as increasing my heart rate.
Best for Baby
Trying to make the best food for my baby to ensure he is getting all of the nutrients he needs has made me evaluate my own food choices in a positive way. I have explored healthier alternatives and even completely new foods in order to ensure he has everything he needs. When cost may have previously been an issue, we have made allowances because his health is important to us.
Of course we want the best for our children but shouldn’t we also want the best for ourselves?