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Food glorious food

December 13, 2012

Supper went on for ages this evening. My girl sitting so straight and upright in the lovely old wooden high chair that first my grandmother sat in, then my father, my uncle, me, my brother and now Hope.

She has been a bit off her food for the last few weeks, firstly teething, then with her horrible cold and latterly she has been (and I’m sorry for mentioning it but it has been very stressful for both of us) a little constipated and just not wanted to eat very much. Tonight however her appetite is back with a vengeance; she wolfed down bits of chicken from her Granby’s home made chicken curry, she gobbled up the broccoli, enjoyed handfuls of rice and then gorged on chunks of tomato (her absolute favourite). None of this was taken from a spoon, she picked it all up herself, her dextrous little fingers have become so adept at holding onto food, putting it into her mouth, taking it out, examining it, waving it and then stuffing it back in again. She doesn’t really seem to take to spoon feeding, although one of her Godmothers managed to feed her half a small home made shepherd’s pie yesterday evening and she enjoyed a little fruit pot which my lovely neighbour gave her this afternoon.

Hope hasn’t had mush … we’ve been doing baby led weaning. This means that she eats what she wants to eat, no I don’t mean she demand certain foods, just that she is eating what I eat, and the baby led part is she eats as much or as little as she wants … and then we top it all off with breast milk. The food isn’t blended or pulped, it’s put in front of her whole or cut into strips so she can hold it. Several friends and family members have flinched and fretted about her choking, but I believe, and it says in the book that it seems so much more logical for her to pick up the food, to experiment with it and to get a sense of the texture rather than having it stuffed in on a spoon which is very likely to make her gag. Nothing so far has made her choke or even gone down the wrong way, obviously she doesn’t get whole grapes or peanuts or even baby tomatoes and I’m with her whenever she eats to make sure she isn’t stashing food in her cheeks which she might choke on later. It’s going well for both of us, she loves mealtimes and really is thriving and happy. All you need is a little patience as mealtimes can be a bit messy and a little protracted … I make the time and mealtimes are a real joy rather than stressful in any way.

I’m also still breast feeding her, though she has started taking bottles of expressed milk again which is good for when she has to go one day a week to her wonderful child minder, I love feeding her. I was so determined when she was first born to feed her myself, I spent ages like Ermintrude attached to a milking machine in the hospital, then bought a little hand pump so we could give her breast milk through her nose feeding tube … since that came out I have been feeding her, and from May til August pretty much all she was getting at all was breast milk … it may sound odd to those who don’t understand or who haven’t experienced the joy of breast feeding, but I love it, she seems to love it and it is quite the most precious, personal and magical part of mothering.

Breast feeding isn’t just about the nourishment and the benefits to the baby (and the mother), it is, for me anyway, all about the closeness, the absolute bond between mother and daughter and somehow the moments of peace it interjects into the day are some of the most perfect and miraculous moments I have ever experienced and even more so at night if I’m dragged from my sleep. I am so so lucky to find it so easy (after a difficult start), I know some people struggle … I’ve never had leaky, spurty kind of breasts (again I am lucky) but do seem to produce just the right quantity of milk for Hope. She is like a little wolverine, or some kind of feral creature, especially at night if she wakes up hungry … she hunts me down and attaches so firmly (and even with teeth, so unpainfully) and she is so intent on her feeding. If I try to lift her up and hold her on my shoulder too soon she reacts like a small animal and seeks and finds her way back to her warm feeding station … it reminds me of a tiny blind kitten, so great is the instinct to feed.

Hope’s diet now she’s on ‘solids’ (the rather odd name for food), is incredibly varied… and one thing has become very clear, she really doesn’t like bland food, she enjoys spices and strong flavours … no ordinary plain baby belle cheese for Hope any more she likes mature cheddar! She sings to spaghetti when she’s done with sucking it up with gusto, wears chocolate buttons all over her, and neatly cleans all the flesh off cucumbers leaving the green skin.

This is a list of just some of what she’s enjoyed in the last month …

duck

thick noodles

chicken

curry

avocado

cheese

tomato

pasta pesto

broccoli

pear

red pepper

courgette

strawberry

cheese

mushroom risotto

whole meal bread

scrambled egg

fish fingers

Fiorentina pizza

chicken fajitas

garlic bread

strawberries

pistachio ice cream

vanilla ice cream in a cone

mashed potato, sweet potato, two chips, slices of new potato

crumpets

spinach

cucumber

steak (which she ate with such satisfaction in London the other evening at her first Christmas ‘do’)

Perusing the menu in her favourite noodle bar ... spicy squid and chilli noodles please (no GM)

Perusing the menu in her favourite noodle bar … spicy squid and chilli noodles please (no GM)

… and chocolate buttons (just the occasional – maybe once a week – half a one)

Hope eats with such concentration, with relish, gusto and cries of delight especially with tomatoes (her current favourite) which she holds with both hands and consumes, sucking and slurping.

Have I mentioned recently that I absolutely adore my girl.

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