Baby vs. Mummy! The Battle of Weaning

When I think of how excited I was to start my baby on solids, I should have known how short-lived that excitement would be. Whatever you hear about four months or six months being the ideal age for weaning, every baby is different and you must prepare yourself for one of the strongest battles you will ever have with your baby- food and all its matters.
 Which brings me to mine (and at 20 plus months it's still in the active war stage). Someone told me that the biggest sign to indicate that my son was ready for something solid (other than milk) would be his interest and curiosity to eat whatever was in my plate. At his four months check - up he was on track (in weight and coordination) and seemed ready for the first big step into the 'food' world. But as a first time mom and well you know, just generally being a mom, I knew that we still needed to wait for some of those clues that he was ready.
 While we waited, I talked to several friends and looked up similar questions on groups where opinions were very diverse on when exactly to start weaning. At the start of six months and quite suddenly one day when we had started dinner, my son began to make funny noises with his mouth (all while looking eagerly at my plate). I was ecstatic and immediately went on to elaborate (with the husband and my mom) how right I had been. So that night I decided that solids would begin the next day. The ideal first food suggested was rice but I chose to give him steamed apple puree instead. Everything was ready (including the camera) and that first spoon of special apple puree disappeared quite quickly while those little smacking lips demanded more. I was thrilled! Apple puree was on the menu for four days and by day three you could sense his irritation. The splatter of apple around was quite evident and the lip smacking sounds were replaced with cries of disapproval. I was also quite tired with all the dancing and singing that accompanied his meal. The apple puree was ditched and I moved on to carrot, sweet potato, banana and finally dal, rice and kichadi. I soon realised that babies, just like us prefer different tastes, variety, textures and flavors. So the apple puree was fine as long as it was a different preparation each time. I began experimenting with different options like cinnamon, to add flavor to the apples. Of course the battle had just begun and everyday had different outcomes. The delicious banana pudding was instantly rejected, the vegetable kichadi that I carefully prepared found its way to the floor and the orange juice, well it landed all over my t-shirt.
 So although mealtimes are still a huge work in progress, I cannot say that my son is not a fussy eater. We have our good days and horrible days but some things I learnt along the way have definitely made things easier for me. Here are some things that worked well for me:
  1.  Comfort food never fails! A trick I devised quite early in the weaning process was to use my son’s love of his favorite food (in his case: yogurt) to tempt him to try something new. I would conceal new food with layers of yogurt and pretend that it was nothing but yogurt. It worked like a charm for a few months at least.
  2. Distraction works (singing, dancing, rhymes, birds and trees) but requires hours of patience and loads of energy. As soon as my son began enjoying finger foods, I used them to my advantage. I would place pieces of cucumber, carrot and potato in front of him while I quickly managed to feed him his meals. Of course it resulted in a huge mess but it sure made him feel happy to smash, and feel the food he ate.
  3. Force feeding is a big NO. There were days when he ate just a few spoonful’s of the food in his plate. It was distressing and I felt like the worst mom but I never forced him to eat.
  4. Think of fun names for food. I quite accidentally found that my son was eager to try something new if I gave it a cool name and relished the dish in front of him. Soups, macaroni, egg white and veggies (like drumstick and lady's finger) were all passed off in this manner and it was nice to hear him ask for more.
  5. Finally, my closest friend and mother of four gave me the best advice possible. She advised me never to get my son used to pureed and blender mashed food (a huge fussy eater problem). I transitioned from blender to lightly mashed food and when I found my son could chew well I smashed his food quite lightly so that he could still feel the texture of rice, dal etc.
 The weaning process will come with many hiccups, concerns, worries and questions but I have never heard of the perfect weaning experience. Just equip yourself with a huge list of tasty weaning recipes that have different tastes, flavors and textures, good glass (or silverware) and cartloads of patience. The battle will last for a while.
 Do share your weaning stories with me moms and thank you for taking the time to read.