An ethical dilemma

I would like it to be known that I hate weaning. I know some mums can’t wait to introduce their babies to solids, but me? Well, I’d quite happily keep The Baby on milk alone for a year if I could. Admittedly, my perception of weaning has been tainted by my experiences with The Boy, who was an utter nightmare where solids were concerned. He wouldn’t be fed, wouldn’t feed himself, threw every item of finger food on the floor – ugh.

Happily, The Baby has – so far – been more amenable to the idea of solids than her brother was. It helps that I’m rather more laidback this time round, too. With The Boy, I spent hours trying to coax him to eat, getting more and more frustrated and irate. If The Baby doesn’t eat, she doesn’t eat. As a second-timer with a five-year-old to get to school/swimming/play date, I simply haven’t got time to spend an hour persuading my beloved weanee to finish her teaspoonful of porridge, so if she’s not playing ball, it goes in the bin. It helps, of course, that unlike The Boy, who was always in danger of dropping off the bottom of the weight charts, she could live off her fat stores for a month. But that’s another story.

Anyway. Up until today, weaning hasn’t been quite as painful as I remembered. But as The Baby has now hit seven months, I have to step up a gear. And that means introducing meat. This is no easy process for me, as I’ve been vegetarian since the age of 13.

I could, of course, raise The Baby as a vegetarian, but if truth be told, I don’t eat that healthy a veggie diet. I subsist on pasta, stir fry, jacket spuds and oven chips – none of which can be easily adapted for a weaning baby. In any case, the hubby and The Boy are both meat-eaters, so I’m the minority group around here.

So, today, I whacked half a pack of diced chicken breast in the slow cooker, along with some sweet potato. By dinner time, it was all beautifully cooked and ready for blending. And at that point, I remembered yet another reason to hate weaning. Or rather, several reasons.

Reason #1. Chicken does not puree. Not without pebble-dashing the kitchen. I ended up wrapping a tea towel around the top of the slow cooker bowl to avoid being splattered with dead poultry. Even so, I later discovered a bit of chicken flesh stuck to my sock.

Reason #2. There is something fundamentally wrong about giving your child something that you wouldn’t eat yourself. Of course, there are exceptions; The Boy is orally fixated and regularly eats carpet fluff, stones and dried glue. But, you know what I mean.

Reason #3. When you’re trying to persuade your baby to eat, what do you do? You raise the loaded spoon to your mouth and make a great show of eating the delicious morsels it contains. I can do that with mashed sweet potato, pureed cauliflower and blended butternut squash – but not with meat.

Reason #4. This is the worst one of all. After her meal, The Baby was veritably plastered with pureed chook. We cleaned her up as best we could with a wet wipe, but when she subsequently launched herself at my face for a big slobbery kiss, I instinctively held back for fear of being chicken-slobbered.

As I sat there, offering the loaded spoon to The Baby, part of me was hoping that she’d reject that nasty dead stuff and wait for me to heat a bowl of her favourite lentils and sweet potato instead. But no. Her little mouth opened like a bird’s and she devoured the whole lot.

Tomorrow, then, I guess I’ll have to steel myself to pick up that other half-pack of chicken, lever it into the slow cooker at arm’s length, and chuck in some more baby-friendly veggies for my little carnivore. I’m glad, I really am, that she’s eating well and enjoying her food. But it’ll be a long while before I stop feeling weird about feeding my pretty little squidge on something that I’d never eat myself.

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