There really should be more support in weaning babies. I know there are some mother and baby classes for this in my area, but I really think there should be more support out there for those babies who don’t enjoy food or just don’t tend to gravitate towards it as much as we do as adults.
Baby A was born with a heart condition (more on that in another blog post) and before the surgeon could operate on her she had to be a certain weight. The only issue with that was, as a result of the heart condition baby A struggled with breathing and feeding at the same time. So inevitably the minute she would struggle with the breathing she would stop feeding.
After a successful surgery, and quick recovery, she was suddenly in love with milk and quite happily drinking lots of it. The only down side of surgery was the fact that she had lost a lot of blood so she was prescribed liquid iron supplement, and aspirin for 6 months. Baby A did not like either, and as a result didn’t trust anything other than her milk bottle, so weaning her onto solids became a daily battle.
We took on board all the advice given, and tried home cooked foods, store bought foods, yogurt, baby snacks but she wouldn’t have any of it. The minute the spoon would come towards her she would firmly pierce her lips and refuse it thinking it was more medicine. The only thing she did develop a love for was cheese. And as I’m a big fan of a bit of cheddar or double Gloucester that made me so happy. So her diet consisted of milk and cheese.
In order to get baby A to start eating, we cut down her milk intake and would eat next to her to see if she would ask for whatever we were having. As time went on she grew curious and would look eagerly at our plates so we started getting her to taste various foods. It’s been a few months now, since that phase of complete refusal of food, and she has started to eat a bit more regularly at 14 months. She still refuses a lot of food. And doesn’t have the recommended 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.
I know baby A’s journey into weaning was made more challenging due to the medication she was on and her mistrust of anything that approached her mouth, but that’s why I wish there was clearer guidance and support in how we could have developed a more positive relationship with food for her specifically. A lot of what we have done has been guesswork, and trial and error. Alongside this, I feel there are still questions to which many give such varying answers that I’m constantly confused. For example, (1) how do I know if she’s eaten enough? (2) how much is classified as “enough” for a 1yr old? (3) if it’s okay that some days she eats better than other days, then why is there so much pressure on making sure babies have 3 meals and snacks in the day (4) how big a meal is a meal, and what constitutes a snack? and (5) is it normal for her to still be pushing food away, and if so how long do we accept this as normal behaviour and when should we be concerned? I know these questions are open to interpretation, and everyone will have a different answer, but I’m exhausted with meal times and keeping up with the constant voices that keep saying “give baby this”, “give her that”, “she’s not eaten for how long?” “Is she losing weight?”…maybe if everyone was just told that babies eat when they’re hungry so don’t stress about it, we could all go about enjoying meal time’s again, and not count every morsel of food while worrying whether or not it’s enough.