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The Art Of Weaning

Never in my life have I felt so spooked as I did when it came to weaning Phoenix on to solid foods and it turns out - it's really quite simple.

At about 4 months I started to get visits from the Health Visitor telling me all about it. She gave me a chart, which I might add was paid for by 'The Dairy Counsel' - so not a completely unbiased chart, which kind of annoyed me. She also gave me some really conflicting advice. I was told, don't start weaning before 6 months but then by the time he was 6 months, he really should be eating what we ate... Immediately this panicked me! How could a baby with no teeth eat what we eat? She then told me they preferred 'Baby Led Weaning' and said he could have anything apart from, cow's milk, tap water that hadn't been boiled, bottled water - like evian, honey or gravy until he was over 1 years old. However, she didn't explain exactly why this was. So I had to investigate for myself...

cow's milk - because of allergies (not sure about this one) and also because cow's milk instead of breast milk or formula will not give you baby the nutrition that it needs

unboiled tap water - recently read that as long as the formula water is always boiled, your baby can actually drink tap water straight from the tap after they are 6 months old.

Bottled Water - because of the salt content (do avoid this)

Gravy - because of the high salt content (again please avoid as too much salt can kill a baby)

Honey - because of botulism (but don't panic if you mistakenly give your baby Honey as it's very rare. However, it's best to avoid)(

My mum told me that back in the day babies were weaned at 4 months. So I decided I would start weaning Phoenix at 5 months and just take it slowly and follow his lead. Lots of my lovely mum friends had been to 'Baby Led Weaning' courses, where they encourage you to let babies feed themselves and to give them real food from the start and not baby food. I just felt like that was just too much advice, so I opted out of that course.

My sister is also a health visitor so I asked her what on earth I should do and she gave me much more clarity about the whole situation but I still felt a bit panicked by it all.

I can't cook, I'm not proud to say, I've successfully set fire to 3 kitchens. Plus I don't eat meat - but I had decided that I wasn't going to enforce my views on Phoenix and that he could make his own mind up about his diet when he's old enough. I rarely eat 3 meals a day and often just snack all day. Many reasons why I just felt completely in the dark and as a former eating disorder nut bar (forgive my choice of words but I am speaking about myself, so I feel it's ok to be un- PC) the whole idea of food can send me in to a spin anyway. I felt a melt down coming on.

Here's what I did though...

At 5 months I started Phoenix on baby porridge as he could sit up on his own by now really well, so I didn't ait until he was 6 month... He liked it at first, but soon got bored.

A week later I gave him 4+ months Ella's kitchen - again he liked it at first but then started pushing the spoon out of his mouth with his tongue, unless it was Mango or Banana Brekkie

By now I had given up on letting him feed himself all together. It was way too messy, it took ages, I didn't know how much he was getting and I was really scared he was gonna poke his eye with his baby spoon.

A week later, when I tried to give him breakfast as well as lunch and dinner he screamed the bloody house down. He wanted his bottle and he was going to damage my ear drums to get it. I should point out Phoenix rarely cries - so I knew it was serious. The only other time he screamed like this was when I put him in jeans. He was starting to break me and I felt like a complete #mumfail

It was at this point though as I told my brilliant partner Ayden Callaghan, that me and my whatapp group of NCT mums were all panicking about weaning, he came out with a gem of wisdom and logic that calmed us all down...

He said, "Don't worry about it. Have you ever met any adults that still have to have a bottle or be breast feed because they couldn't be weaned? Just listen to Phoenix like you have been doing and do it your way."

So clever of him and yet so simple. So that's what I did.

My lovely sister had advised me to cut the 'adult' food up in to small pieces, so I didn't worry as much about choking. My friend Therese from my NCT course, is a Dr and she showed our whole NCT group how to help a choking baby. Something I suggest all mums learn and I will vlog on how to do this soon. I also stopped making him eat things he didn't want and just chilled.

I basically found that he just hated baby food and the minute I gave him the same food as me and his dad (cut in to small pieces) he started to eat really well. He probably felt that I wasn't so tense about it all too. I do let him fed himself a bit now but not all the time as I'm really busy and sometimes have to get a move on. He has toys to help him develope his dexterity and when I let him, now he's nearly 9 months, he's more than capable of feeding himself - he just likes to muck about too. He can also drink from a straw and eats out with us so often, he's an absolute angel in restaurants.

I don't give him gravy, crisps, bottled water or honey and he doesn't drink cows milk but he eats all sorts with cows milk in, like ice cream and cream and his digestion is brilliant. I have also started to be less strict about boiling his water from the tap.

I also give him all food groups including sugar. The reason for this is because, when I was a child I was allowed anything I wanted. Now, if I have a biscuit I can just have one and leave the rest. My partner only had sweets and chocolate on a treat day. If he eats one biscuit, he has to finish the whole packet. Now, of course I did have an eating disorder but that was down to being a dancer and not the diet my parents gave me. My sister and I are both now natural slim. We eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full and we eat exactly what we fancy but don't really put on weight and I want Phoenix to be the same so I won't be restricting any food.

The other reason I don't want to make any foods good or bad or treats is because of this....

A few years ago now, a friend of mine got in touch with me because a friend of hers had a 4 year old boy, who was a fan of mine. This little sweetheart had stopped eating completely. This had come about because he had been watching the Cbeebies Show 'Sportacus' - which puts a great deal of emphasis on 'good' and 'bad' foods. This show affected him so much, he became obsessed with not eating any bad foods, because he was so young, he just stopped eating or drinking, even water, completely. I called him in hospital (it had got so bad he was on a drip) and told him that all foods were good for him and that he should definitely not worry about eating and should just enjoy all foods as they are all tasty. He told me he supported Chesterfield Football Club, so I got in touch with them and they were brilliant. They let him eat with the footballers and he was a VIP at their games, which managed to get him back on track. It showed me though what a major influence, how we present food to children has. There should be no good or bad foods. We are born with a natural ability, to know when we are hungry and when we are full and what our bodies need.

Phoenix doesn't cry for chocolate when he sees it and he reacts the same way to an avocado, or a chocolate button or a piece of chicken. If we don't make a big deal about food and weaning then our babies will tell us exactly what they need and they will show us the way.

I recently got Dr Pixie's baby Food book and she brilliantly told me that babies deserve more than mush, they deserve tasty food. I am going to attempt one of her recipes soon and I will vlog about it. I'll call the fire brigade in advance I think though.