I don't know about you but as my baby approached six months old, I was pretty feeling pretty freaking confused about healthy baby weaning.
So. much. conflicting. advice.
Start with purees, bringing in chunkier textures once the baby’s learned to swallow. No, start with finger food so they learn to chew before swallowing. Encourage the baby to become familiar with a few foods to begin with, establishing favourites they get excited about. No, offer plenty of variety and don’t let the diet become repetitive…that’ll make it much harder to introduce new foods. Offer the baby their own bowl of food so they learn to be independent, eating what they feel like and stopping when they’re full. No, hold the bowl yourself and feed them slowly with a spoon. Let them refuse a food, it’s part of the journey. Don’t let them refuse a food, keep offering it – ten times. No, eight. No, sixteen times should do it. A full tummy will help them sleep through the night. A full tummy won’t help them sleep through the night.
(...and if we're meant to start solid food at/near six months old, as the World Health Organisation and British NHS have been saying for more than fifteen years, how come there are so many '4m+' baby food pouches and jars? An infant dietician told me she'd seen stats saying more baby food products are marketed at 4m+ than any other baby age-stage).
Maybe healthy baby weaning is confusing because healthy eating itself has become confusing.
The past couple of decades – formative years for us Millennial mothers – have brought wave after wave of confusion about what a good diet looks like.
When I was a kid, it seemed like fat was the big dietary enemy.
My mum’s mags were full of ‘ways with cottage cheese’ and everyone used margarine and skimmed milk for fear of contracting coronary heart disease. The supermarkets were full of low-calorie products that'd had the fat – and a lot of the taste – stripped out, to meet the new consumer demand.
By the time I was a teenager, carbs were the enemy.
High-protein, high-fat diets were all the rage – burgers without the bun, extra fried egg instead. Every week a new celeb was wanging on about their 'Atkins success'. Next came the superfoods. Acai, then wheatgrass, then green tea, then blueberries, then coconut, then chia seeds...then doctors started saying actually broccoli's a superfood, so is salmon, and peas. Let's stop saying superfood, it denigrates everyday ingredients when they're actually ace, and much cheaper. Ok then.
Every year since, a new hero theory on the right way to eat for good health. Paleo, Dukan, South Beach, Zone, Volumetrics. Good stuff and less-good-stuff to all of them.
Nowadays protein's front-and-centre, but in a more balanced way. Fats are to be encouraged. Well, some of them are. And carbohydrates are back on the menu, as long as they’re complex wholegrains...porridge in every self-respecting hipster’s breakfast bowl, a resurgence of bread-baking with ancient flours like spelt and rye.
Because of course now sugar's the enemy.
And refined, processed carbohydrates. Chemically-processed, artificially-flavoured, 'empty-carb' foods are on nutritional naughty step as a more conscious, natural approach to eating continues to rise. Weekend newspapers highlight a new wave of chefs and cooks who are all about being creative with simple, real food. The big supermarkets are working hard to respond to a rising national interest in where our food comes from and who grew it for us.
Regardless where you stand on all this – any chat about our food culture is naturally polarising because we all experience food so differently – it’s not 100% surprising a lot of people of our generation are sometimes a bit baffled about how to eat well.
And now it’s time to feed someone else.
Check out my Instagram feedfeed or sign up for my newsletter (on the homepage) for heaps of non-confusing baby food recipe ideas using simple, real food. And adults-only indulgent snacks and treats too...parent-fuel.