Expert Weaning for Second Babies

I felt I should really share my wisdom on this topic, having been giving Emily solids for several weeks now and thus qualifying as an expert *ahem*.

Like so many parts of having a second baby, this is nothing like the first time you did it, and can be quite a shock to your system. So sit down with a large glass of wine, I mean fresh-pressed organic orange juice sorry, and prepare for the horror. Experience, I said, experience. No horror. No siree.

To make it clearer, I’ve compared each aspect with weaning a first-born.

  • First time – you set aside the same time each day to build weaning into a calm and settled routine.

Second time around – “Oh no, I forgot to feed the baby again!”

  • First time – you carefully select a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, invest in a selection of food processors and special ice-cube trays and lovingly cook and freeze purees for your angel.

Second time around – you scout around the kitchen and find an assortment of fruit and veg that are probably ok still, chuck them in a pan and mash them into ice cube trays, having tipped out the ice cubes you were saving for your night-caps.

  • First time – you religiously check food safety guidelines, developmental guidelines, health visitor guidelines, GP guidelines, old-lady-across-the-street guidelines to make sure the baby is getting the right food at the right time. Finger food is cut into exactly the right size pieces.

Second time around – “Will she choke on it?” “No.” “She can have it then.”

  • First time –  you sit for hours, coaxing every little mouthful, celebrating every time the food stays in the mouth, playing all the ridiculous aeroplane games you swore you’d never catch yourself dead playing.

Second time around – “You’ve got 20 minutes. Now eat.”

Fun and games, people, fun and games. Now, where’s that drink?

Are You Smarter Than A Four Month Old?

Emily began solids this week. Actually, her first taste of solids was nearly 2 weeks ago, but we put it on hold because there was a load of upheaval at home. Yes, she is young – she only turned 4 months old on Monday. And as the health visitor pointed out, “We do prefer them to wait until 6 months to start solids”. Oh, really? Not sure Emmy would agree with you. Without going into long and boring details, she is letting me know in no uncertain terms that her current level of intake is not quite doing it for her. I think if I suggested to Emily that she wait another 2 months before moving her on, she might take my arm off at the elbow. Daniel was the same.

In fact, pretty much every time we moved Daniel on, from weaning to sleeping in his own room to giving up a dummy to toilet training, he let us know that he was ready for it. When he was ready to move out of our room, his sleep worsened, improving once he was in his own space. Same again when it came to changing from a cot to a bed.

Take toilet training – I’m more than half convinced that it’s actually the child training us. We just established that Daniel was very good at using the potty and asking for it and fetching it. We were in a nice little comfort zone, and I thought I would introduce the concept of the toilet in a couple of weeks, no hurry. Daniel decided differently, and completely off his own back he started using the toilet instead of the potty.

Emily is so far following firmly in her brother’s footsteps, letting me know when it’s time to move on. I suspect most babies are the same. This is a pretty handy thing when you think about it. Most parents are completely clueless (including us by the way!), hence the market for parenting help books, the sheer abundance of forums on the net, the helpful blogs. We joke about needing an instruction manual when we bring our newborn home but inside we’re shouting “Please give us an instruction manual!” Sweating madly, convinced we’re going to end up causing untold damage to this tiny little being because WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING. And we cling onto the moment that we were in 5 minutes ago because the thought of the future, of them growing up and not needing us any more, is too scary. But luckily, for them anyway, babies are smarter than us. They know what they need, and when, and they find ways of telling us. I’m not ready for Emmy to start weaning. I felt like telling the health visitor that. “Do you think I WANT to start solids? Do I want to spend hours cooking and pureeing veg and freezing it in little blocks and persuading her that peas are actually delicious? Do I want to start the process of moving my daughter away from the intense closeness that breastfeeding brings, knowing that I won’t get that again?”

But Emily, my four month old baby girl, is smarter than me, and smarter than the expert. She knows she is big and strong, and needing more. So I’ll listen to her, and not the experts, thank you so much for the advice.

Brownie Bites

Hello! Did you miss me? I know I missed  blogging, writing, tweeting and facebook-ing over the past couple of weeks. One of those times where life just completely takes over. Underneath the chaos caused by decorating, cleaning, and de-cluttering I could sense the laptop sitting there all alone and unloved, calling me. But I’m back (hugging laptop then realising that actually that’s quite weird).

One of the side effects of having some time away from writing is I’m all fired up again now, champing at the bit to get going again, which feels great. Even better is the feeling that I want to get back to my novel – at this stage in previous novels I’ve given up by now and moved on. It’s really satisfying, knowing that this time I want to see this through, and that I really think I can. I also have ideas firing off for both short stories and the next novel, and I’m getting a second lease of life for my picture books so I’m raring to go! My blog challenge is also still standing (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about), and another post, on The Passion of Football, will be coming soon. Finally, in the whirlwind guide to my writing so-called life, I’ve recently been introduced to 6 Minute Story by @rebeccaemin. Basically, you sign up (using your Twitter name if you like, so if you check it out look out for me – rebeccaebrown) and on being given a prompt you start writing, with a timer counting you down for six minutes. Yes, it’s that complicated. Very challenging though, and I recommend anyone give it a go! My very first attempt is here – be kind!

Anyhoo, the reason I called this blog post “Brownie Bites” is because I have discovered a new passion. Economy Gastronomy (click here for the Amazon

listing) is a fabulous cookery book giving easy to cook meals that look fabulous but are really economical to do. Hence the title. And my favourite recipe, which I’ve made about 4 times in the last week or so, is Chocolate Brownie Biscuits. Except I prefer to call them Brownie Bites because, well, it just suits them better. Anyway, try ’em and see. You won’t regret it.

And why have I, of all people, taken up cooking? When the phrase ‘Can’t cook, won’t cook’ pretty much summed me up? Well, I guess I’ve grown up a bit. I used to resent cooking. I didn’t have any particular talent or enjoyment from it, and no interest really in learning. Recently though, having two children has matured me in more ways than one. I’ve felt responsible for providing a good home for my family, and that includes food. I let my son down a lot when he was weaning by almost completely relying on jars and pre-prepared baby foods. Now he is an incredibly fussy eater with virtually no inclination to try anything new, and regularly going off the things he did like. I know toddlers go through these phases, and I can’t be sure 100% that it’s because of how I approached his first foods, but I know I didn’t give diet and nutrition the importance it should have had. Now I’ve reconciled myself to the idea that cooking is just one of the things I need to do so I’d better get on with it, I’ve invested in a few kitchen tools and got some help off my mum and this book to do some decent food.

And you know what? I’m loving it. I’m enjoying cooking, I’m enjoying providing good meals and seeing my husband’s face when he tastes what I make him. I’m loving baking biscuits instead of buying them. I’m usually a fad person – I’ve had loads of interests that have burned fiercely then died away to nothing, so there’s a chance this will too. Except that it’s too important to let drop completely. Emily started eating solids today, and before I know it she will be eating proper food, and I owe it to her and to myself to do the best I can to provide her with decent stuff.

So, I’m off for a cup of tea, and a fresh-baked Brownie Bite. Any takers?