I was at some sort of baby class while ago chatting to your mother he’s seven month old son was waking every 20 minutes in the night. That’s right, 20 minutes. That shit is full-on torture. Obviously we tried to offer empathy and a little bit of advice, but mostly we just looked at her with wide sympathetic eyes. Then she started talking about weaning and how when her son went to bed in the evening she had to start making all of his food for the next day, cooking batches etc. At this point any attempt on my part at subtle sympathy went array as I blurted out “oh just get some bloody jars!” Luckily, I’m not sure the poor harassed woman heard me, but I feel this statement nicely sums up my attitude to weaning.
Of course we all want to feed our children what fresh organic produce that we have cooked with our own hands lovingly. But we are also real human beings who have other things to do, like give said children some attention, clean their floors occasionally and SLEEP. So it’s okay to cheat sometimes. In fact, I don’t think it’s even okay to consider sometimes giving your child precooked food as cheating. Its just life. So here’s my guide to the weaning paraphernalia that is fine to use:
Jars Glorious Jars!
When Bubs first started having solids I was on it! Our tiny freezer draw was stocked with raspberry porridge, mashed sweet potato and all manner of finger foods. It was all a novelty for about two weeks. Then I realised he’d have to eat three times a day, everyday for the rest of his life and the playing-house feeling began to wear off. I still mostly gave him home cooked stuff, but I did the whole 12 for £6 jars deal and stocked the cupboard up with bland blended veg. It was like my culinary safety net. When I was out later than I’d hoped because something had taken long than expected (everything takes longer than expected), I didn’t have on of those hyperventilation-there’s-nothing-in-the-fridge-and-my-child-is-having-a-high-chair-meltdown moments. I’d just open a jar and crack on.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a baby-led-weaner, a purée-parent or (like most of us) somewhere in between; you can’t be bovved all the time. And let’s be honest, if Bubs just ‘ate what I ate’ he’d being having a lot of toast and grown-up pasta sauces, which are not jars I’d recommend for one-years-olds. #SoTastySoSalty
But all this is in the past now. The only precooked ‘baby’ food he will now eat are those ready meals that cost about £1.60 each. EACH. Luckily, I have discovered another time-saving solution…
Stuff in Tins
Dear Reader, have you discovered the glory of tinned foods? O. M. G. You can find so much good stuff in tins!! They do tins of baby carrots in water. That’s right, little fist-sized carrots, peeled and cooked. Good to go. It’s a game changer. Bubs regularly has a lunch consisting of tinned stuff with a side of pitta bread/crumpet/toast. Finger food that I didn’t have to cook? #winning.
But when I look down at his little white tray scattered with a motley crew of kidney beans, sweetcorn and baby carrots I get a pang of guilt. I suddenly feel that I have provided my child with a sub-standard, uninteresting meal. I worry that tinned food must be innately inferior and I am, therefore, wilfully neglecting the health of my child. Frankly, I feel like a lazy mother. But WHY???? Is he eating it happily? Does it contain some nutrients? Then get over it!
The thing is when I do ‘pull myself together’ and make a slow-cooked vegetable risotto or some such thing, 80% of the time he looks at it warily and shakes his head. With his mouth firmly closed he utters a sort of inflected ‘hmmn’ sound that is clearly baby-speak for “I’d rather have toast and kidney beans, mother.” So, you know? That’s what he gets.
Whilst I am sure this is a no-brainier for many or us, there are a few weaning books that contain cautionary tales about microwaves. To be honest I haven’t really engaged fully with them. As soon as I see a heading like ‘A note on microwaves’ I quickly flip that page before I am overrun by guilt and anxiety. Because I NEED MY MICROWAVE.
I used to freeze precooked vegetables for finger food (before I discovered the glory of tins, obvs). Do you really think I was going to have the level of organisation to ensure Bubs’ food was always out of the freezer in time for it to defrost naturally? Do think each night as I wearily shuffled bed-ward in the hopes of more than 4-hours solid sleep I could remember to remove a block of porridge or two from an ice cube tray! Of course I couldn’t! And now, Bubs may ‘eat what we eat’ for dinner but how likely is it that I will have cooked our tea by 4.45pm? It. Doesn’t. Happen. So, he has last night’s grown-up food from the fridge. And if you expect me to heat that shit up in a pan at every meal then, sorry, we can’t be friends. Two more pans to wash-up a day is not an option that our household is prepared to entertain.
Also, did you know that a microwave is the most energy-efficient way to heat your food?? So, basically I’m an eco-warrior. #justsaying
Did you know that breadsticks are now an essential part of a modern parent’s arsenal? Oh yes. Toddlers love them. Actually, properly love them. No joke of a lie.
Allow me to expand on this. Take my Bubs. He is 15 months and is starting develop a bit of language. We’ve got some animal sounds, yes and no (oh joy), and of course the obligatory ‘daddy’. Seriously, this boy will rarely say ‘Mamamamama’ but when my husband enters the room he is greeted with a chorus of “daddy, daddy, daddeeeeee.” It’s he only two-syllable word so far. Well, apart from breadstick.
Okay, he doesn’t actually annunciate the word ‘breadstick’ accurately – he’s a one-year-old give him a break – but if he is kicking off and I think he might be hungry I’ll just say, ‘do you want a breadstick?’ and his face lights up. I show him the packet and he’ll immediately beam and echo back ‘resteeek’ or vowel sounds to that effect. So, yes, my son has learned to say breadstick before mummy. This is not exactly my finest hour as a mother. But it does prove to me that his love for those things is strong!
Is it wrong to placate and unsettled child with carbohydrates? Probably. I should probably learn some kind of behavioural techniques or something. But I’m a real person and my son is lovely and not a spoilt brat, so I think I’ll try and stay chilled about it.
Are you a fresh food mama? Perhaps your baby has had all jars and you’ve felt judged (not by my sister!). Or do you think it just doesn’t matter that much? Share you thoughts (and this post please!) by commenting below, tweeting me @aafew or going to my Facebook page.
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