Weaning is a journey unlike any other – one full of trepidation, excitement and sometimes utter chaos. It should just be instinct, we should just be born with the ability and in-built knowledge to be able to eat a chip without choking on it. But these are babies we’re talking about and no such instinct exists. You start introducing your tiny one to new and exciting things and you open up the door to a whole heap of trouble.
We are now very much at the end of the weaning journey – we have a toddler who will eat pretty much anything you put in front of him, so long as he’s in the mood and I’ve even got to a stage where I might even turn my back on him whilst he eats his tea. Not for very long, mind. It wasn’t always like that though. Weaning was a tremendous pain in the arse and a process I found a bind almost from start to finish.
Here are five things nobody tells you about your new eating journey.
Your plate is now their plate.
You’ve spent your entire relationship with your spouse protecting your meals from them. They were always nicking the odd chip, finishing your leftovers even though you were thinking of bagging them up for your dinner at work the next day. You’re finally at the stage where your meal is yours to enjoy and yours alone. Then you have a baby… and nothing is yours anymore. Not least your meal.
We still, even now, are having to eat late at night because trying to have a meal with a toddler in the room isn’t worth the hassle. You can’t just shove them in the high chair because they’ll refuse to eat their food knowing you’re also eating. Doesn’t matter if it’s the same food, they want yours, not theirs.
And because you’re weak, you’ll give it to them and find yourself shamefully scoffing their soggy leftovers after they’ve gone to bed.
ANYTHING on your floor is fair game.
Before weaning, I thought my floor was fairly clean most of the time. I don’t hoover every day, but it’s always presentable. Then my toddler learned how to crawl and was mid-weaning. Then I realised my floor is home to hundreds of bits of “stuff” – some food, bits of paper, plastic packaging remnants… so, so many little bits for tiny baby hands to pick up and immediately place in their mouth.
So as well as you having to dive in and rescue them from themselves, listening to them whinge that they’re not allowed to eat the weird wire tie thing from their latest toy, you also now feel super self-conscious about your cleaning efforts. Don’t bother trying to stop this – no matter how well you clean, they always find something.
Silence is the only acceptable thing to hear when your child is eating.
Any noise whilst they are eating is a bad thing. In my head, it was always that Short Rib was choking… it turns out my boy couldn’t (or just didn’t) regulate mouthfuls and would regularly shove way too much food in his gob. It took a while for this to stop, so if he made so much as a muffle whilst he was eating I was there, jumping in to slap his back and waiting for him to breathe again.
It was horrifying. I turned into a properly neurotic mum for a couple of months… I would stare holes in him whilst he ate. He never even realised, but the whole idea of him choking really scared me. I think particularly because you hear about awful accidents involving bits of food that are a teeny bit too big. Despite Short Rib having nearly all of his teeth by the time he was 8 months old, I would constantly fret about his ability to chew and swallow.
I still do, but to a much, much lesser extent. He once ate a whole IKEA meatball and I nearly had a nervous breakdown. He handled it like a boss. I did not.
Bowls are useless.
Honestly, the first thing they will do is pick it up, tip out the contents onto their high chair tray thing (or you, depends how you’re sitting) and hurl the bowl at a wall. It’s nothing personal, it’s just what they do. You can’t not have one of course, but don’t leave your child unattended with one until they hit around four years old. Before that, you’re just asking for mess.
Don’t wear nice things. Just don’t bother.
It is a fact of life that your toddler will decide to be at their messiest when they are in public or just before you head out somewhere nice. It’s just how it is and we can’t change it – my advice here is not to wear your pretty dress to that big family meal, and instead just rock up in jeans and a t-shirt. Carry a hoody to cover the inevitable staining.
You can try and tuck that napkin into your collar all you like. That isn’t really the biggest problem you have. It’s when you’re trying to wipe the little beggar’s hands and he decides he’s going to grab your arm, leg, face, whatever with his grubby orange mitts.
I used to be able to get away with wearing the same pair of work pants for two days in a row.
Those days are dead and gone, my friend.
Yeah, I guess it’s exciting that they’re starting that transition from baby to toddler and I suppose it makes things easier when they can eat what you do, but if they could just be born with table manners that’d be great. I cannot be the only one with this disdain for this particular portion of raising children – make me feel less horrid by letting me have some of your best weaning stories in the comments!