The hot potato, if you’ll pardon the pun, in the Robinson household these last few months has been the subject of food.
After successfully weaning my son on lovingly-prepared purees into the unfussy, fruit loving, healthy eater that he is now, I assumed that I would repeat the same process with my daughter and get the same result. Therefore, I dutifully waited until Scarlett was six months old, dusted off my Annabel Karmel cookbook, bought in a truckload of organic vegetables and got ready to fill and freeze the new set of plastic pink pots I had bought for her.
Day one, carrot puree, went well and I was feeling confident. Day Two and she wasn’t keen on the carrot so I switched to apple, to be met with the same slightly bored refusal to let me anywhere near her mouth with a plastic spoon. I knew from reading up on weaning that you sometimes have to offer a child the same food up to fourteen times before they will accept it, so at this point I wasn’t too concerned. She was still happily drinking breast milk and I comforted myself in the knowledge that she was still getting all the nutrients that she needed from that.
Two weeks later and I started to feel a little stressed. It’s amazing what an emotive subject food can be. My husband’s common-sense “She’ll eat when she’s hungry” attitude was doing nothing to calm my overwhelming need to see my daughter eat something.
Because my son had taken to solid food so easily, I had no idea what to do when faced with a child that didn’t want to eat. I started to ask anyone I knew how they had approached making this transition from milk to food. Several friends suggested trying baby-wed leaning – where you give a child of six months finger food rather than purees and let them feed themselves. Many people seemed to swear by it, saying how easy it was to just give their child the same as they were eating for dinner and let them get on with it. Scarlett’s response to baby-led weaning was to look me straight in the eye as she dropped the carrot sticks over the side of the high chair one by one. She did seem to like the fusilli pasta in tomato sauce and almost ate her own hand she was stuffing it in her mouth so fast. I almost wept with joy until ten minutes later when she threw the whole lot up again. And it was still whole.
At one point I thought I'd found a winning technique for feeding Scarlett: distracting her by dancing to Dexy's Midnight Runners on the radio and shovelling the food in. To my disappointment, I discovered that during my world famous double spin to 'Come on Eileen' she was surreptitiously spitting the food into her lap.
Then we found the golden goose – spaghetti hoops. She loves ‘em. Anytime, day or night and she will find room. She also stole a chicken nugget – sorry chicken goujon – from her brother’s plate and had a good chew on that. Before I knew where we were she was also partial to an oven chip and the odd bit of breadstick dipped in dairylea.
I will admit I didn’t wholly embrace the fact that my daughter would only eat the kind of foods I hadn’t let William anywhere near until way past his first birthday. However, a friend who had visited a dietician with her son when he was a picky eater had been told to ‘feed them whatever they like as long as they’re eating.’ So I did.
Yet again I have realised that most of the things I worry myself to a frazzle about with my children seem to sort themselves out over time. Six months on and she is eating a much wider range of food, although she still doesn’t eat as many vegetables as I would like. Her particular favourites at the moment are scrambled egg and peas, not necessarily together, and of course, her beloved spaghetti hoops. I’m sure she’ll be serving those up to the guests at her wedding.