We carefully sit the Little One in her brand new high chair as the momentous day finally arrives.NHS weaning session attended.
Annabel Cartmel book well-thumbed.
Baby-led weaning researched.
Munchkin spoons washed.
Vegetable sticks steamed.
Baby wipes at the ready.
Pride oozing that we’ve finally reached Weaning Day. Classic first-time parent comments made: “How grown up she looks!” Energetic mum moves and the back-catalogue of previously hilarious noises made from behind the camera to get a smile for the obligatory photoshoot. (For the record, clicking was the winner on this occasion, but only after some extremely straight 'what on earth are you doing?' looks for 'zzz', raspberry blowing and a host of leaps, jazz hands, peekaboo games and renditions of 'Row, row, row the boat', all performed with a big fixed cheesy grin. I sit down exhausted.)
A choice of vegetable sticks laid out beautifully on the highchair tray (carefully disinfected to the nth degree for its big debut). Pureed carrot on standby as part of the chosen two-pronged approach (nothing like sitting on the fence). Excitement palpable in the room. The first taste of real food.
“Have your baby sit with you for meals” the books said. Keep it natural: yes I can see the logic in that. (Fat lot of good it is when she naps over lunch and is in bed by dinner). We both sit chomping on our own mushy carrot sticks making loud ‘mmm’ noises. Nothing like some subtle encouragement. All completely normal behaviour, of course, for 10:30 on a Saturday morning.
She sits and watches. “Avoid the temptation to pick the food up and put it to your baby’s mouth” says the baby-led weaning book in my head. Sitting on my hands, grimacing, I muster all my self-restraint. “Why won’t she even pick the bloody things up, she grabs at everything else in reach?!” the voice in my head screams. I watch her like a hawk out of one half-open eye, willing her on. Nothing. She watches the tree out of the window.
She glances at her highchair tray. Her hand slowly closes around some butternut squash. “Yes!!!” My heart flutters in excitement. She shivers at the feel and drops it over the edge. She instead locates the fascinating wash label on her bib, studies it closely, and gives it a good suck. Five minutes in, game over. 10:35am: normal business resumes. And that was that. The definition of anti-climax.
A word of advice to anyone embarking on weaning: expect nothing to happen on the first day. Or the second. In fact, for the first two or three weeks. Expect food to be ignored in preference for anything else to hand (particularly baby wipes, optimistically poised for the aftermath). Expect to exaggerate pretend eating. Expect to mop the floor several times a day. Eventually some will go in, I promise, and at that moment you’ll have your heart in your mouth for fear of choking, wishing with every bone in your body that your baby had just dropped the food straight on the floor like every other day.