Ok so obviously Noweo didn’t SAY that, but she might as well have. It’s a little known secret that I am not that perfect mom that has pureed 20 ice cube trays of organic fruits and veggies for my baby, although I like to pretend that I am that perfect mom.
The truth? The truth is that I’m fizzled out about the whole thing because it is SO HARD to hold her attention when I’m trying to feed her.
Six months ago I was so excited to watch her little jaw move up and down, puffing her fat cheeks in and out as she munched on the mush I expected her to gobble up but would never touch myself. For weeks I’d try to put a spoon in her mouth chock full of “real food” and for weeks she’s basically rejected it – reluctantly taking a bite every 5 minutes and completely ignoring my ridiculous attempts to turn the spoon into an airplane (“That’s not an airplane mom. Geez even I know that.”)
Why do we think airplanes will make our kids feel like eating? Maybe it’s just me.
AAAAANYWAAAAAY I fail. I fail at treating her like a person who may have a more sophisticated abilities than I’m giving her credit for. When we’re eating and she’s not, she does everything in her power to get to our food and shove it in her mouth, so I know she wants FOOD – real food, not stuff that looks like it used to be food before we ate it. Why am I giving my daughter boring gook that (like I mentioned above) would never touch myself?
The answer (for me anyway) is fear: fear that she’ll choke. That’s what it boils down to, but all the signs point to the fact that she’s ready and perfectly capable to make her own food choices and feed herself and MY job is to trust her and set safe guidelines. It’s not like I’m giving her a chunk of rare steak or rock candy or anything.
From pregnancy to breastfeeding, I have been quite comfortable trusting my body to do what it needed to do to make a baby. When I had her, I nursed her on demand, and I’m sure she got exactly what she needed when she needed it. Now at nearly 7.5 months, why does that mentality need to stop?
Enter baby-led weaning.
I had heard the term but didn’t really understand what it was. Basically, it’s exactly what Noweo was trying to teach me about this whole time. “Mommy, let me do it. I can do it.” That’s all it is. It’s about giving your kid different options of REAL FOOD in manageable portions for them to explore and try.
So yesterday, I sat her in a bumbo, attached the tray, and gave her a slice of boiled sweet potato, a chunk of banana, and a slice of apple. I have never seen her so happy and attentive during a solid food meal. It’s like I opened the gates to Disneyland and gave her free reign of the place. She devoured the banana and the sweet potato, and gnawed on the apple – delighted.
Choking? None. In fact, when I was spoon-feeding her mush, she choked and gagged at least once almost every time I fed her. I noticed that when she was eating the apple, she only managed to gnaw off teeny tiny little chunks. After a while, I didn’t worry so much about her choking, though I still watched her like a hawk.
Did she make a mess? Most definitely, but cleanup made up for the fact that I didn’t have to puree anything.
This morning she and I shared our breakfast together on the kitchen floor (not OFF the kitchen floor): a roll, an apple slice and sweet potato. She joyfully ripped the roll in half, one for the right hand, one for the left, and took turns taking a bite from each half (most of which fell out when she opened her mouth to bite again). It felt like another level of bonding, similar to our nursing relationship. I love being able to share with her some of the foods I love, watching her explore the texture, the taste, using her thumbs and little fingers. I could just see those little wheels turning in her head, with little fireworks of excitement in being just a little bit more like Mommy and Daddy.
I’ve been sad lately about the beginning of the end of our nursing relationship, but now I’m reminded that so many happy memories happen around a dining table, or a picnic basket, or between car seats during a road trip, or at a favorite restaurant.
Now because of baby-led weaning, I feel like those happy memories are just beginning.