Baby Weaning

According to the books, Maggie – who is 9 months old today – should be eating her three square meals a day and these should be fulfilling most of her nutritional needs. Around this age she doesn’t need as much milk as she’s been used to and will probably reduce to two or three bottles of milk max. In fact, she really should be sitting up at the dining table and eating with the rest of the family like a good girl.

Indeed. It’s not quite working out like that. Missy’s diet hasn’t been great, although it is improving. She’s not a great fan of vegetables and she openly rejects meat and eggs. She’s on the typical toddler’s diet of bread, cheese and fruit. Her favourite food is still porridge (hence the blog name!) and she’ll eat almost any fruit. I was freaking out about it for a while until other mummies-in-the-know pointed out a few truths to me:
1. No babies are the same or take the same amount of food or wean at the same time or do what the books tell them they should do.
2. As long as she was taking her bottles Maggie was getting enough nutrition. The main thing that formula or breast milk doesn’t provide at this age is fibre, but she was taking bananas and cereals so she was fine.
3. Just when you think your baba (and you) have got the hang of it, she’ll get a cold or will start teething and…all that delicious, lovingly home-cooked food will go down the drain. Or in the bin.

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Maggie eating her first spoonful of baby rice (we bought the proper spoons later!)

Some babies eat everything they’re given, and even throw in a smile as if to say ‘Awh thanks mother, I really appreciate you slaving over that hot stove all afternoon so I’ll make sure I eat every bit’. That kind of response warms your heart. Maggie’s little friend Otis came to play recently and happily slurped all my homemade vegetable and lentil soup that I had been defrosting, heating and chucking out every day for a week. I was absolutely expecting to throw it in the bin as always and when he ate it up and asked for more I nearly cried with gratitude. At the other end of the scale some babies eat nothing at all. I’ve heard stories of mummies distracting their babies with rattles or empty bowls and spoons or their favourite TV show or even really loud dance music, all while they try to sneak in one precious spoonful of food.

I read an interesting article recently from Plum Baby which suggests that fussy eaters like Maggie might just be ‘supertasters‘. Scientists have worked out that about 25% of us are “supertasters” – meaning their tastebuds are much more sensitive to flavours, especially bitter ones. I read this eagerly. Excellent, I think, ‘supertaster” sounds much better than ‘fussy little madam who turns up her nose at her mummy’s yummy home-made food’.

However a few weeks ago we had a breakthrough. Inspired by her love of (powdered) porridge, Johnny suggested that we should try powdered food. Sounds mingin’, I know, especially considering how delicious the organic baby food on the market tastes. But I guess it is probably what we were all fed all those years ago before Ella’s Kitchen and Annabel Karmel (the Jamie Olivers of baby cooking) came to save us. So I bought Heinz Mediterranean Vegetables & Rice and served it to her with trepidation and….by Gawd she ate it! Hooray!

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The second breakthrough came a few weeks later in the form of Ella’s Kitchen pouches. Dismayed by the rejection of my home cooking, I invested in a range of ready-made baby food to try out different flavours and textures, most of which were spat back out or slapped away. I carried on undeterred, however, buying a rainbow of puréed vegetable and fruit goodies and taking it much less to heart when, one by one, each of these were rejected. One day, without any expectation, I tried a Carrot, Parsnip & Apple pouch and almost shed a tear as she slurped up every single morsel. Her first vegetable, goddamnit. She had the same reaction to their Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Blueberry & Apple variety. We both squealed around the kitchen that day. It was only later that I realised that both foods had a very high percentage of apple which cunningly disguised the taste of the other veggy stuff. But, hey ho, it was all 100% goodness.

Last week Maggie finally got her first tooth and, like the proverbial bus, two more have arrived since. It has proved somewhat of a turning point as yesterday she ate a floret of broccolli. I’m not counting my chickens just yet but it’s definitely a good sign. Now we are getting to a good place, my sister has advised me to invest in a Beaba Baby Cook, a dual device which steams on one side and purées on the other. It sounds wonderful but I can’t quite imagine going through all the baby food malarkey without using 2 saucepans, a sieve, a food processor and a measuring jug for good measure. But then I can hardly imagine having a baba who’ll actually eat the stuff I’ve prepared, so it’s all new territory. Wish us luck!

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We have a Toof!

This week, Maggie’s Toof finally arrived. Hoorah! As if she wasn’t cute enough, there’s now one little sharp stump of enamel where once there was gum. I am very excited, as it means she is finally part of the Tooth Gang with the rest of her baby peers, despite being one of the oldest in the group. More importantly, of course, I hope that it means the start of the end to her teething pain and thus the end of her very limited food choices. She’s been surviving on a diet of porridge, toast, cheese and banana for ages now, so perhaps she’ll feel more up to trying out weird and wonderful things like meat, vegetables and spuds.

Thankfully we haven’t had it too bad. Apart from her Healthy Hunger Strike, there have only been a few days of teething tears. But it does seem as if she’s been teething for months now, bless her. There’s not lots you can do about it, but here are some of the Teething Tips I’ve come across so far to help ease the pain.

1. Over the counter medicines

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Teething solutions you can buy in any chemist or supermarket include teething gels, powders, Anbesol liquid etc. I use Dentinox and Nelson’s Granules during a bad flare-up and the odd spoonful of Calpol when Missy has woken at night. For some reason she loves to chew on the tube of Dentinox too, but I don’t think that’s recommended.

2. Teething Rings

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Biting helps to relieve the pressure on the gum, and you’ll often find that your duck will use your finger or knuckle to bite on for some respite. You can get a teething dummy that reminds me of a mouth-shield you would use on a rugby pitch. This was definitely one of Maggie’s favourite things when she first started teething a few months ago. You can put teething gel inside but I couldn’t figure out how to do that without it sticking everywhere so I tended not to use it. It was still very effective. There are lots of teething rings in the market, but again for best results keep them chilled in the fridge.

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Of course the teething toy du jour is the original French teething toy, Sophie the giraffe. Ever since it has been seen clutched in the hands of Nicole Richie’s daughter, Harlow, it has been something of a status teether, with yummy mummies (and doting daddies) everywhere forking out the £12 or so for this cute rubber friend. It has been consistently one of the top 3 baby products on Amazon’s wish list since they started selling it in 2008. Hype aside, it’s a very cute and effective little toy. And it squeaks too, which allows for hours of annoying pleasure in the hands of an older toddler cousin as we have learned!

3. Frozen fruit & vegetables

Let your baba chew on some cold vegetables or fruit to help numb the pain. The ones most mummies have recommended are cold sticks of cucumber, frozen carrots or frozen watermelon. My childminder recommended letting a few frozen peas rattle around their gums, but sure I was terrified of choking so wasn’t too keen. I shouldn’t have worried, though. Due to Missy’s Healthy Hunger Strike she rejected them anyway!

4. Muslin Squares

Take a muslin square, twist the end of it, submerge in water and put in the freezer for the duck to gnaw. Or dip it in some chamomile tea instead. Another reason why we adore the humble muslin square. Its uses are endless!

5. Homeopathic remedies

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There are lots of homeopathic remedies I’ve read about. Clove oil and Chamomilla seem to be mentioned often for helping to relieve red, sore gums. (Or using stuff from the kitchen, mix ground cloves or root ginger into a paste with water and rub onto their gums). I’ve often seen the Amber Teething Necklace mentioned on websites and blogs, which is a natural painkiller, releasing succinic acid which relieves inflamed gums.

6. Nappy Rash

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One of the first signs of teething can be a sore, red bum. I have just discovered Kamillosan Nappy cream from my friend Sarah which I do think has worked well, especially since I was lashing on the Sudacrem and it wasn’t clearing it. Weleda also has a nappy cream in its range. If you can bear it, let them roll about for a while in the buff; it is bound to be a relief for them. Maggie’s nappy rash did worsen a few weeks ago so we used Canesten to clear it up.

But of course, there is a long road ahead. We’re only just at tooth no. 1 so we’ve quite some way to go. If other things have worked for you and your little bear, please share your wisdom. Now we are off to buy baby’s first toothbrush. Oh, joy!