The M Word: Food, Glorious (Baby)Food.
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
I’m so excited by the buzz The M Word has generated so far. It’s reassuring to know my random thoughts and mild panics at 4am are not exclusive to me. But there have been a few newspaper headlines (well, somewhere around page 17 mostly), that have made me frown a little. Mainly the idea that I’m “taking on the kale chip brigade”. So much is taken out of context, and I have no interest in taking on anyone (I will however FYI, always consider taking on eating challenges), especially not other mothers who are just trying to do their best too. But having said all that, for someone who was determined to be a laid back mum, I found myself panicking about what passed my baby’s lips the second he started chewing on his own foot. We are bombarded with subliminal (and not so subtle) messages about what we should feed our babies. Organic, fresh not frozen, no dairy, no eggs, for-gods-sake-don’t-give-him-peanut-butter; and I will confess to feeling nothing but dread when the time came for solids. I can cook; I eat healthily (most of the time); I understand basic nutrition; so why was I so terrified? Because it was yet another milestone to fail or be judged on.
Baby Tom had no interest in solids at 6 months so I waited a while. Then I introduced baby rice (he swore at me with his eyes), pureed root vegetables (not too bad until he tasted parsnip and his head almost inverted with disgust), and because I travel so much, some commercial sachets of baby food (what?! You feed your baby that muck?!).
The first couple of months of solids were almost like going back to the start of the newborn stage. I didn’t know what he liked, I was afraid to be out for too long in case he wouldn’t eat the food I had packed. And then there was an epiphany (well, that’s a bit dramatic but work with me here); I had spent three hours preparing different combinations of pureed, organic veg for the freezer and as a result, had barely any time to cook for myself so I threw together an old store cupboard staple of noodles and whatever was leftover in the fridge. As I sat down wearily to eat, Tom perked up. Out of interest, I offered him a small bit of my dinner and if he had teeth he would have bitten my finger off.
That was that. He now eats whatever I do (bar the almost daily Magnum Double Ice Creams). I cook without salt and anyone else eating with us can add it at the table, and my days of standing bewildered in the supermarket are over. My life is easier, my baby is happier, and I don’t spend the price of a pint on an organic butternut squash. So many mums I know are spending hours over steamers and food processors, worrying about nutrition and potential allergies that don’t yet exist.
So for the record, I’m not taking anyone on, bar myself and the fact that I fell for stupid marketing tricks and crafty advertising. I spent my teens feeling shit thanks to impossible images of beauty in the media; I won’t fall for a similar ruse targeting me now for my parenting skills. Apart from the Magums…. I’ll fall for anything they want to sell me.