Why I Hate Weaning (And Think Breastfeeding Is Ace)
Ahhhh the good old days… Fair enough Kai would feed around the clock (despite telling enquiring relatives that he fed four-hourly to get them off my back- hahaha that was a good one!), and at the time felt incredibly draining, but looking back it was pure bliss. I’d get to sit on the sofa all day, watching dvd’s and catching up with all the tv series I had missed (think I got through two season’s of Desperate Housewives and House in the first couple of months!). Ant even set me up a little ‘nursing station’ with snacks and drinks, the remote control and a pile of books and would ‘wait’ on me, stuck as I was with a greedy baby attached to my boob. Kai may have been hungry ALL THE TIME but it was so easy. All I had to do was whip one out and voila – happy baby. Any time, any place. And I never had to worry about how much he was feeding (although of course I did being the neurotic first time mum that I was), or whether or not he was getting the right nutrients. Cause, you see, breastfeeding is magic like that. Give a baby unrestricted access to the the breast and they will feed exactly the amount they need to, with your body somehow adjusting the amount supplied and the nutritional content of the milk according to what your baby needs for optimum growth at that time. And my little guzzler on the 85th percentile was a pretty good endorsement for that.
But then of course the little monkey GREW UP didn’t he - suddenly I had to start thinking about weaning and food and life became a hell of a lot more complicated.
The first big decision was WHEN to wean Kai. In the end we decided to wait till Kai was 6 months to start whilst systematically fending off all our baby-rice wielding associates who assumed that by waiting we were starving him somehow – one look at him should have been enough to tell you that he was doing just fine on milk thank you very much. We didn’t really get all these supposed ‘signs’ that people talk about and as he’d always fed like a fiend and NEVER slept worth a damn anyway. When he upped his feeding in the odd week I just assumed it was a growth spurt and would pass, and it usually did (although his 3-4 month spurts did run together in one long crazy marathon feed).
By the time Kai got to six months old he was quite adept at picking up things offered to him and putting them in his mouth and rather suspicious/hostile of doing anything he couldn’t have control of (especially anything bottle or spoon shaped) so we decided to give a baby-led approach a try, throwing out the spoons and the pureed mush and giving him bits of proper food to chew on from the start.
This turned out to be the best decision we’d ever made. Kai loved it. And although it took him a while to start eating anything in any great quantity, by about 8-9 months old he was shovelling it down like you wouldn’t believe. And by ‘it’ I mean pretty much anything offered to him. Hard, soft, chewy, crunchy, slippery, teeny tiny pieces and great big chunks – Kai would have a crack at them all. A lot of practice meant chewing and swallowing skills came on fast – as did the ability to chase and ‘capture’ various sizes and shapes of food around his tray. It was just fab. Watching Kai eat a sandwich or delicately picking up every pea on his highchair are still two of my all time favourite sights. And on those days he didn’t eat much I could still rely on good old breast milk to top him up.
So why do I hate weaning I hear you ask? Well Kai is approaching the big 1 now, and starting to breast feed less and less (well, during the day at least – we won’t go into the nights yet!). And I am becoming more and more aware of the need for food to give him all the nutrients he needs. And it feels like an AWESOME responsibility.
All of sudden I’m having to think about things like ‘a balanced diet’, calculating daily salt intake and monitoring sugar. Toast and sticks of fruit and cooked veg just don’t cut it any more – I need to make actual MEALS! When the timing works out he’ll just eat a bit of whatever we’re having as a family but the rest of the time I have to make stuff specially for him and me (my old diet of a packet of biscuits for lunch doesn’t seem quite so appropriate any more).
And of course, being the perfectionist that I am, it has to be good stuff. I’ve never been much of a cook but suddenly I’m making pitta pockets and pasta bake like a pro (or trying to anyway). It’s EXHAUSTING! Trying to come up with new things, get a good balance between different foods and food groups etc. I HATE IT!!
Bring back the days when boob was enough! I tell you what… next time around I am going to appreciate it all SO much more.