Some babies are great eaters. I thought Baby 1 would be one of them. After all, following a rocky first few days, she took to breastfeeding like a hobnob to a cup of tea. Maybe that’s the problem – if it were up to her, she would have nothing but milk, milk and more milk night and day. She’s not a total spoon-phobe, she will eat food – the sweeter the better – she’s just a bit fussy. As in, she rarely likes anything I’ve made her unless it is made up of at least 70% fruit and is pureed beyond the capabilities of my poor old blender, and even then I invariably end up having to rely on shop bought fruit purees or yoghurts to get a balanced meal into her. Sometimes, even that doesn’t work. Therefore, my sleeves have had to loosen beyond recognition to accommodate all the tricks I keep shoving up them. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
- Alternate bites with yoghurt/fruit puree/something you know she likes. Typical meal goes: spoonful of veggie puree, spoonful of meaty puree, [Baby 1 pulls face and buttons up her mouth] spoonful of yoghurt, spoonful of veg, yoghurt, meat, yoghurt, yoghurt, veg, yoghurt, etc. Vary the order so she doesn’t work out what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s also helpful, while she’s got her beady eye on you, to pretend to dip the veg or meat-loaded spoon into the yoghurt pot. Sneaky, no?
- Get a small dab of yoghurt on the end of a spoonful of whatever you’re trying to feed her so she thinks that’s what she’s getting. But really she’s only getting a tiny taste of that and a whole lot more of the good stuff, mwah ha ha ha. [There are slight Machiavellian side effects to the more sneaky of these techniques, so feel free to insert an evil laugh if the need takes you. If only to add a welcome touch of the ridiculous. And make the baby smile.]
- Use finger food. Even if your baby just likes to gum these and then throw them on the floor, they can provide welcome distractions while you go about the business of inserting whichever nutritious item is offending your young madam/sir tonight.
- If she opens her mouth for any reason other than to cry, insert spoon. DO NOT, however, do so if she is mid-howl as she will inevitably inhale food along with wail-mustering breath and you will end up sprayed with regurgitated baby porridge. That’s why I can no longer wear several of my shirts.
- Give up the spoon. If all else is failing, the time may have come to give up trying to keep any part of her, you, the
high chair, the floor, the entire kitchen, etc, clean and let the baby take control. For example, one evening last week Baby 1 refused point blank to eat ANYTHING I offered her, from her favourite Ella’s Kitchen pouch to the corn puff snacks she likes and even a fromage frais. She also made it quite clear that the highchair just wouldn’t do. So I took her out, stripped her to her vest and sat her on the table with a bowl of Weetabix. No, not as much of it made it into her mouth as I would have liked, but squishing her fingers into it certainly cheered her up.
Ok, so maybe these methods don’t exactly abide by the weaning guidelines of introducing her to different tastes and textures. And maybe resorting to the happy chaos of number 4 does not exactly ensure your baby is getting a healthy, balanced meal inside them. At the end of the day, when you have a fussy eater who is otherwise refusing to comply with the basic principle of meal time, you have a choice – do you let them go empty-tummyed or do you grit your teeth, loosen your sleeves and make it your mission to get that food into that tummy by any means necessary?