Convenience Food

foodWe started BG on solids when she was 5 months old as she was fascinated by people eating!  At the time, Fishfinger Dad and I decided that to save wastage of fruit and veg we would use ready-made pouches and dutifully  set off on the ‘weaning’ journey.

We soon discovered that BG loved her food, eating anything and everything!  Ella’s Kitchen pouches became a standard and regular item on our shopping lists.

This was an exciting new part of motherhood for me.  I absolutely adored the look of amazement on BG’s face when a new food was being tried, her little arms flapping like an excited penguin when the pouch and spoon came into view.  I’ll even go as far to say I loved the mess! After one particularly purple pouch, BG ended up looking like Violet Beauregarde – it was hilarious and cute in equal measure.

Once again, however, I was surprised by the amount of judgement from others.  Why was I not making my own foods for her?  Had I caved into marketing?  Was I just being lazy? Again, I was left questioning all of my own parenting decisions.  Eventually, I got over myself and managed to get a grip – my baby, my choice.

To be frank, yes I could have spent hours during the day dutifully steaming, boiling, mashing, portioning and freezing copious amounts of fruit and veg.  I chose not to do this in the early puree days. The Fishfinger Dad was out at work and when I was at home, it was hard to find the time during the day whilst looking after BG to create a store of dutifully pureed fruit and veg.  At the times where she was napping, did I clean the house, do the laundry, have a short break for myself to recharge my own batteries or did I puree fruit and veg.  It was even harder when I returned to work.  Buying it ready-made was much easier!  Now she’s on more substantial food, and has teeth to chew said food, there is a good balance of home-made and pre-bought items in her diet.  Bolognese, stew, casserole, pasta (by the way, unless you need specific pasta for dietary requirements, I highly recommend Sainsbury’s pasta stars at 85p for 500g as an amazingly baby-friendly sized pasta!) all feature in her diet, along with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and a whole host of other vegetables! She’s even eaten sprouts!

I actually love cooking and baking, but I’m no Annabelle Karmel.  The range of flavours available from all of the big brand baby food makers is far more interesting than anything I’d ever think of making!  I also work full time as a high-school teacher, I’m rarely home before 5:30pm and I would rather heat up a pre-made dish and actually spend time playing and bonding with my daughter than spend it cooking a baby-friendly masterpiece.

We also opted for “Traditional Weaning”… a method those firmly in the “Baby-Led Weaning” camp see as “cruel”!  Some arguing that by spoon feeding her, she wouldn’t then learn to feed herself and that I was somehow force-feeding her by not allowing her to feed herself.  All a complete load of balderdash in my opinion because if she can grab it, BG will eat it.  The only ‘problem’ that she seems to have is that she has two hands and only one mouth!  As I type this today she is sat next to me shoveling Philadelphia on toast into her gob!  She is also redecorating some of the furniture with it too, which is always an added bonus when it’s a feed-yourself mealtime.

My vent on this topic I suppose really is the usual “Why is it anyone else’s business?”  BG is happy, healthy, active – and eats absolutely bloody anything! (Well, except sweetcorn.  Which is, quite frankly, food of the Devil as far as she’s concerned!).  And yet, people seem to feel they have the right to comment on my choices.

“Oh, you’re using ready-made food?  I always made my own.” – did you?  Well done you.  Let me bow down to you and your superior mothering.  I suppose you also stayed at home with your baby until they went to school too?  I’ve gone back to work, perhaps you’d like to pass some judgement on that choice whilst you’re here too?

“Oh that’s a very expensive way of feeding your baby”  – is it?  Why do you care how much I am spending on my food shop?  It is actually quite expensive to buy decent quality veg and also produces quite a lot of food waste!  I’d rather not waste food thanks – not that I need to justify my choice to you anyway!

“If you keep feeding her ready-made pouches, she’ll become a really fussy eater!” – you sir/madam are so far from correct you don’t even know!  BG will eat absolutely anything put in front of her!  In the early days, she did take issue with parsnip, preferring to lob it across the room than actually eat it, but she will eat anything!

We often sit together at the table to eat as a family.  BG will often have a version of what we are having… omelette, scrambled egg, toast, meatballs, pasta, fishfingers (of course!), little roast dinners with Yorkshire puddings and she sits with us eating at the dining table.  Equally as often, she is in her high chair being spoon-fed a ready-made convenience meal by whichever parent is home at tea-time… still at the dining table.  We are teaching her that meals are eaten as a family, sat at the table!

As for snacks… Organix & Kiddylicious are my go-to brands for easy to transport, easy to eat, limited mess snacks!  It is much easier (for me at least) to have a stash of these in my ‘mum-bag’ than a selection of partially eaten, slightly bruised fruit and veg of questionable age!  The sorts of things that you would forget are in your bag!  Again, we vary the sweet and savoury options and it often means that she can join in at times where I might be having coffee & cake or a small snack.  She feels included and is learning table manners at the same time (in a fashion!).

At the end of the day, what is more important?  A mother who is constantly on edge about what she is feeding her baby and stressed about needed to make everything from scratch herself or one who is calm and relaxed with a baby who is happy and well fed?  It isn’t a case of me judging those who are able to make everything at home from scratch and never use ready made snacks and meals either – if you’re able to do that, I am actually a little bit jealous!  It’s great that you can and if it works for you and your home situation – brilliant!

For me, I need a ‘convenience’, I need the ‘easy’ option – it makes my life with BG better because I can spend the time I have off from work with her rather than in the kitchen cooking up a batch of something!  If you want to judge me for that then be my guest, I could giving a flying duck what you think in all honesty!  It works for us and we have a happy, healthy mum therefore a happy healthy baby!

At the end of the day; my baby, my choice!

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