The first year of caring for a baby is a bit like signing up to Weight Watchers, but in reverse.
Every time you see a health professional they want to weigh the baby. You find yourself applauding weight gain – something you never ever thought you would do.
Your little one needs to double their weight by six months, double! Of course some don’t, but the advice is that they need to be putting on weight steadily.
That’s some serious growing, so they do some serious eating in the first year. But because they have such tiny tummies, they eat ALL day and ALL night. Eat, gurgle, sleep, repeat.
How much is enough?
I found it very stressful with my first baby, how do you know when enough is enough? Even if you’re bottle feeding, if your child is prone to spitting a lot of their feed up or reflux then how can you keep track?
Then after the milk feeding comes the weaning, another parenting minefield. There’s dozens of theories and stages of weaning that you’re recommended to follow.
But unfortunately babies often have other ideas to what the recommendations say.
So what goes through a mum’s mind when she’s experiencing the joys of infant feeding? Here’s a peak:
Vow to give breastfeeding a try but if it doesn’t work out, there’s nothing wrong with bottle feeding.
Desperate to make breastfeeding work for tiny, precious newborn. Breast is best, after all.
Realise breastfeeding is really hard and looking at pictures of how to get a good latch is nothing like achieving a good latch with a floppy baby.
Baby won’t open mouth wide enough to latch.
Ouch, my boobs hurt.
Baby has dropped 10 per cent of birth weight, oh no!
Baby is feeding for four hours every evening! How can this be right?
Boobs are in agony. Health visitor says I must be doing it wrong!
Finds “cluster feeding” on Google, wonders why no one thought to mention this habit before baby arrived?
Baby is too sleepy in the day to eat and wide awake at night because she’s starving hungry. Help!
Husband suggests giving baby a bottle, cue floods of tears due to feeling like a failure.
Cluster feeding is over and breastfeeding no longer hurts. Hooray! It’s so much easier than having a pile of bottles to wash up.
But now realisation is dawning that to only breastfeed means having to respond to every cry for food yourself. Day and night.
Baby still waking up constantly for feed at night. Every three hours is a good night.
Google “introducing an evening bottle”. Find lots of people suggest expressing breast milk for this feed to keep the dream of feeding exclusively for six months alive.
Attempt to express. Get only 50ml of milk in 30 minutes.
Google “early weaning, sleep through the night”. Find dozens of conflicting articles and chat room threads.
Buy box of baby rice in fit of desperation after just one hour of sleep the night before, but chicken out of making any at the last minute.
Hooray it’s time for solids. Have bought dozens of weaning books and downloaded hundreds of recipes to try.
Spend hours picking out organic vegetables at supermarket to try as first foods.
Sit baby in brand-spanking new shiny high chair with brand new little bib.
Present baby with first mouthful of real food, with camera at the ready to capture this brilliant moment.
Baby sticks out tongue and accidentally touches food on spoon. Looks confused, turns away, then doesn’t open mouth again.
Baby guzzles next milk feed with more enthusiasm than you’ve ever seen.
Number of cubes of vegetable purée in freezer: 250
Number of mouthfuls eaten each day by baby: 1.5
Number of weaning books thrown back on bookshelf in disgust: 5
Endeavour to move quickly to second stage of weaning, adding texture.
Make beautiful chicken and carrot purée ala Annabel Karmel. Baby thoroughly unimpressed. Closes mouth and appears uninterested.
Take pot of yoghurt from fridge. Baby cries because it’s not being shovelled in their mouth fast enough.
Baby is now on three meals a day. Brilliant.
Baby requires full outfit change after every meal despite super efficient food-catching bibs. FFS.
Need to get baby on a nice, healthy breakfast every day that isn’t this mega expensive Aptamil weaning porridge that lasts two days.
Try baby on normal porridge. Gums clamp shut and flailing limbs send sticky food flying everywhere.
Finger foods time!
Pet cat is happy about having the baby in the house for the first time since she was brought home from the hospital.
Realise one tiny bite of cucumber has gone into baby’s mouth. Everything else is on the floor being eaten by the cat.
Great news, baby is now eating pretty much the same as you are every single day and is learning new words all the time to boot.
Bad news, baby demands spaghetti Bolognese for every meal.
Better stock up on pasta!