When you try and reduce the crazy somewhere, more creeps in. Here, I begin to agonise over weaning the baby. There are so many options and methods out there. Firstly, there’s the currently popular baby-led weaning compared to standard purées-getting-chunkier method.
BLW, as it’s called, is getting a lot of press recently after a self-reporting study of 155 parents of 20-month- to 6-year-olds revealed some differences in the preferences and weight of the children, depending on their methods of weaning. Parents were asked to rate their child’s food preferences by category on a scale of 1-5 (1 “loves; 5 “hates”, with BLW children having scores of 1.82, 1.83 and 1.89 for carbohydrates, savoury snacks and sweet foods respectively, and spoon-fed children having scores of 2.12, 2.08 and 1.81 for those same categories. 61.9% of BLW babies and 63.5% of spoon-fed babies were considered a healthy weight by WHO z-score standards. Because of our concerns about obesity in the West, the focus has been more on the fact that 25.4% of BLW children and 31.7% of spoon-fed children were considered overweight or obese by WHO z-score standards.
Naturally, the overall conclusions have been more well-publicised than the figures themselves (poor old BMJ – they just don’t get the readership!). Looking at the figures in detail, I’m more inclined to think “meh – there’s clearly more to it than just how a baby is weaned”. There’s the correlating factor that always comes into play whenever we look at methods of parenting that have been deliberately selected rather than followed simply because it was what everyone else was doing. It makes sense that parents who actively make decisions are more likely to see positive outcomes (I feel icky just typing that! Like we’re preparing for our final grade, or something we can put in the family newsletter), so it just doesn’t seem possible to strip out all of the gazillions of correlating factors there are. I’m sure that if any of us tried to submit such an experiment to our GCSE Science teachers, we’d be told to bugger off and do a lot more work. I guess that the BMJ is less discerning than Mr Lees.
So… My first conclusion is that the method we use to wean Barney doesn’t seem to matter that much.
Then we get onto the food. This is where I stress myself out a lot. I have read Annabel Karmel’s books with great interest, but have yet to brave any recipes, as I’m terrified of my carefully-prepared meals being met with disgust. I also haven’t really gleaned much information on what *actual* nutrition small people require, only a list of scrummy-sounding recipes.
So far, we’ve stuck to the following – batches of cooked veggies, meat/fish/poultry and starches frozen into cubes and quickly defrosted (in the microwave) with some herbs at meal times. This is punctuated with the occasional purée of whatever I’m having, although as a pest0 fan, hot sauce junkie and salt fiend, I’ve had to use this method only when absolutely appropriate.
Everything has gone down well so far, although the puréed celery took a few attempts. I have always taken the George’s Marvellous Medicine approach to cooking, resulting in slightly peculiar taste combinations that nobody seems to like except me. But if only they’d try Tom Yum and emmental toasties, I know they’d love them! Thankfully, Barney is a captive audience, and he hasn’t turned his nose up at many concoctions, despite one accidental turmeric-spill. After he devoured a bowl of veal biryani, I texted Patrick to let him know that I would treasure this moment when, in the future, he would refuse to eat anything but bread. Yes, baby brother, I’m looking at you!
I’m sure that it’s hard to go too far wrong, unless you start feeding your child puréed fast food – yup, that happened. It doesn’t stop me freaking out over him eating too many bananas in a day (more than two), or when I had a stomach bug and couldn’t cope with preparing anything more sophisticated than Weetabix for an afternoon. These are the days on which I plan to look back and laugh when the real challenges set in!