Baby-led weaning means plenty of adult-led cleaning

OMG: Baby grandson George is feeding himself...

OMG: Baby grandson George is feeding himself... - Credit: Archant

For better or worse, my babies had parent-led weaning inflicted upon them. We liquidised food to a consistent mid-brown and fed it to them on a spoon. So far, they do not appear to have been damaged by the experience.

But times change and so do theories. As I have no knowledge of this new feeding phenomenon, I have turned to Wikipedia to discover more... or rather, to find out why I had to apply upholstery cleaner to my sofa and cushions when grandson George came for lunch at the weekend.

We had bread, salami, ham, cheese, prawns, smoked mackerel and a variety of salads. Anticipating that seven-and-a-half month old George might be wanting a more extensive menu than milk, I had brought in spoons (needless to say, you can buy special ones for feeding infants) and a packet of strained fruit.

By strained, I mean pulped as opposed to stand-offish.

But no. No special treatment. George was given his own plate of food, selected from what was on the table. A tiny bit of ham and cheese, some chunks of wholemeal bread and slices of avocado. Yummy.


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The small boy does have teeth but doesn’t appear to have them working yet. With two and two halves at the top and two tiny tooth buds in the bottom jaw he doesn’t have the dental ammunition for mounting a sustained attack on solid food.

I wasn’t too perturbed. When we joined son Mark for his 30th birthday bash in a pub restaurant a couple of weeks back, George had been presented with a side plate of broccoli florets. He nonchalantly picked them up, one or two at a time, rammed them into his mouth and then, after a few interesting seconds when they were, presumably being rolled around his mouth and tested for resistance, they popped out again, soggy but largely intact. The challenge was to try to predict where the florets might land as some of them were ejected at considerable speed.

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At the end of the meal, I reclaimed them from an area covering a radius of about four feet around the chair, using a paper napkin. But that was then and this was now.

With no high chair (we’ll definitely be getting one now), George sat happily in the corner of the sofa and dived into his plate of food. Literally.

He seemed particularly keen on avocado which didn’t reappear as quickly as the bread. Sometimes, a bit of vigilance could anticipate the imminent reappearance of a wad of ham and we could scoop it up before it welded itself to a suitably receptive surface but, more often, we missed it. By the end of his “meal”, the perfectly presentable plate of food had been reduced to a mangled pile of unidentifiable mush and the area surrounding George looked like the ghastly end of a vampire v zombie apocalypse.

You may recall the scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind in which Richard Dreyfuss models his mashed potato into a mountain, the difference being that Richard Dreyfuss started out with mashed potato and modelled a mountain whereas George started out with unmashed food and pebble-dashed the three-piece suite.

It wasn’t until we moved small grandson, now encrusted with lord only knows what, that I discovered lumps of sucked-through foodstuffs had adhered themselves to the soft furnishings.

At this point, George’s mummy and daddy waved cheerio as they headed off to see a matinee of the show my husband directed, with my husband, leaving me alone with George and fumaroles of indescribable yuk.

I mounted a clean-up operation. First, George. His nice red jeans and top went straight into the washing machine. I wiped his hands and persuaded a top dressing of slimy bread debris from his hair. Then I propped him in the corner of the other sofa while I picked off hardening lumps of lava-like outcrops from velvet cushions and the navy blue sofa.

By the time we were all nice and clean again, daughter Ruth and her fiancé Kev had arrived to play with George. They stacked cups, he knocked them down.

I take back what I said about George becoming a concert pianist, he appears to have a talent for demolition.

Wikipedia informs me: “Baby-led weaning (often referred to as BLW) is a method of adding complementary foods to a baby’s diet of milk. It allows babies to control their solid food consumption by ‘self-feeding’ from the very beginning of their experiences with food.

“Initial self-feeding attempts often result in very little food ingested as the baby explores textures and tastes...”

You can say that again.

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