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Second Time Around
Lifestyle Lifestyle
Second Time Around
August 20, 2018
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Lifestyle Lifestyle
Second Time Around
August 20, 2018
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As a mum of one 3 ½ year-old daughter and a new born baby boy, I have been through my fair share of culinary highs and lows. When my daughter was born, one of the many challenges for me as a new mum proved to be food.

As we approached her time to start weaning I found myself gripped by “babyfood panic” – the only words I can find to describe my feelings when faced with this new parental challenge. I was in a relentless pattern of preparing multiple meals and snacks a day, often only achieving a few mouthfuls of any, at a given meal. I was exhausted and overwhelmed.

“Yes, your friend’s child may love broccoli; whilst you may struggle to even get your child to nibble a small bite of anything green.”

My experiences led me to start a blog and Instagram feed called Mimi’s Bowl; I wanted to reach out to other parents, who felt as I did. Firstly, to put an end to babyfood panic, by talking about it, but secondly to really re-think babyfood and family food, for a busy modern parent. There are so few relatable parent voices out there and even less realistic, tried, tested and parent-friendly recipes. Only a parent (who has been there) understands the feeling of failure at the determined rejection of a baby, toddler, or child, at the sight of food you have lovingly made for them. I would personally challenge any professional chef not to quake at the very thought of a baby, or toddler diner, sitting at one of their tables. Yet as parents, this is a daily reality.

I have just given birth to my second child, and even though he is scarcely a month old, it has made me think back to my weaning experiences as a first-time mum. Second time round I have vowed to enjoy the experience more. Having written about baby and toddler food for close to two years I now have to take a leaf out of my own book and embrace this next baby eating adventure. Can I live by the cooking principles I have been sharing? This time, I want my second weaning experience to be different; dare I say it even… enjoyable. One thing I am certain of is there is no room for “babyfood panic” at my kitchen table anymore.

Here are some of the promises I’ll be trying to keep to myself:

1. Embrace the mess and, yes, there will be mess. Babies need to explore food: with taste and touch. Allow them the space to experiment. No child wants a militant parent armed with wipes standing over their every mouthful… Relax and let them find their own way. Distract yourself by taking a photo of them and save it for their 18th birthday. You are making memories.

2. Enjoy the small moments of food success and disregard any failures. One bad mealtime, or rejected dish, is just one set back. Make smaller quantities of each dish, as there is no point batch cooking vast quantities of one recipe, only for it to be rejected. If this does happen freeze some, try the same food again in a few weeks’ time and move on. One thing I have learnt is that babies and toddlers change their mind daily, if not hourly…

3. Don’t fixate on your cooking abilities: no one is expecting you to morph overnight into a domestic god, or goddess. So many parents are worried that they aren’t “good cooks” – if you can steam some veg and roast a piece of fish, or chicken you will already be a master chef in your baby’ eyes.

4. Don’t compare what your child eats to friends’ children. All children are different and comparisons are really unhelpful. Yes, your friend’s child may love broccoli; whilst you may struggle to even get your child to nibble a small bite of anything green. All children have different sensitivities to the look, taste and smell of food: comparisons are futile. Continue to offer a variety of tastes and colours, encourage adventurous eating and let your child discover the foods they love.

5. Lastly, remember your sense of humour: even when you have slaved over a meal for it to be instantly rejected. I’ll be remembering to laugh (mostly to myself) when my baby demonstrates “feedback”. You are free to laugh too, if you want to follow my adventures and mis-adventures online.

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