Rafa’s little collection of utensils. We’ve been using these to help him make associations with meal time. We’ve also added a little tea cup by a local ceramist so that he has a cup that’s like ours at breakfast or at coffee time!
I had such serene plans for baby-led weaning. Rafa would sit in his Mountain Buggy Pod High Chair with us at the dining room table. He’d have his Deluxe Mess Kit and experiment and experience the wonders of all the local and organic fruit and vegetables that I would put before him. We would talk and laugh and spend time together around food put together with so much love. What ended up happening was this: At three months Rafa started making swift attempts at our food and drink. He wanted it all. Little tastes weren’t enough. We had realise that he was quite social but now we were witnessing his wanting to be involved in the social aspect of eating. Or should I say, this was our interpretation of what was happening.
But we held out – we weren’t encouraged to start babies on solids until 6 months. That’s when we’d do baby led weaning. At about four months we had a routine check up with the doctor who asked if Rafa was showing signs of interest in food. We laughed. Now, Rafa isn’t the biggest baby out there. He’s always been healthy and plotting along well on the graph they use. He hadn’t lost weight, he’d been gaining but perhaps not as much as we would have liked. Plus he had already started rolling and turning, and was just moving a lot.
Then those dreaded words “why don’t you start him on solids?” I couldn’t help but take that personally. What? My milk isn’t enough? At some point I mentioned baby led weaning and our doctor said “how much more baby led do you want to get? Your child is telling you he’s interested and ready for food.” Well, yes. I suppose so. So we went home. I cried. I cried as I peeled a banana. I cried as I mashed it. I’m sure Rafa’s first proper meal was banana with his mothers guilt-laden tears. I was devastated. I wanted to steam broccoli florets for him not mash a banana.
I distracted myself by admiring his little eating utensils. Where and when possible we give Rafa his food and drink in his dishes. We bought our mess kit from the Happy Babies Parent Education shop. The bowl is made from bamboo and has straight sides and a flat bottom which will come in handy once Rafa is feeding himself (it’s virtually untippable – I’ve tried!). Also included is an acacia wood plate with lipped sides which also helps prevent spills. But Rafa’s favourite is definitely the tempered Picardie drinking glass. It’s durable and if it does break it doesn’t produce small shards (it breaks in big pieces). I love watching Rafa reach for which ever item from his kit that most resembles what Patrick and I are using. He won’t have his coconut milk in his glass if he sees we’re drinking out of cups with handles. He’ll want his own cup (not pictured, but I’ll pop a picture on Instagram). I try to carry his little set with us, we’ll be taking it when we travel, because he makes wonderful associations with him and I want to help keep a few things familiar when so much around him changes, constantly.
The saving grace in this whole food journey was that Rafa just loved food. He loved eating. By the next day I knew we did well to listen to Rafa and our doctor. He was so ready. The most comforting notion though was that he still needed me (and my milk) as he always had. Now Rafa is almost seven months old and still loves food. We’ve had no trouble getting him to eat anything. He’ll have tastes of what we eat. I’ve given him broccoli florets (not sure why I was so excited about this). The greatest joy has just been watching him discover food on his own terms. It hasn’t been baby led weaning but it has definitely been baby led and I plan on letting Rafa guide us a lot more. Tuning in to what he’s trying to tell me rather than silly ideals I developed well before truly understanding what being a mother and having a child was really about.