Once upon a time, I was a clean person.
I wore freshly laundered clothes, happily bereft of stains and pulls and holes. I washed and blow dried my hair at least twice a week, with the added goodness of a straightener and styling product thrown in from time to time for good measure. Ablutions abounded - brushing, flossing, plucking, cleansing, clipping, toning, exfoliating, conditioning, shaving and moisturising.
During pregnancy (when I became a shiny, oversized balloon woman) my cleanliness and self-maintenance schedule shifted. Trips to my hairdresser went down, attempts to ward off stretch marks went up. I tried everything I could get my hands on: oils, lotions, cremes and creams, soaks, treatments and scrubs. While my hips and thighs are living proof that my attempts were futile, I was sure as heck one nice smelling pregnant lady.
Since my daughter came along, my standards have naturally slipped. In the last five months, my hair has descended into the untamed category and the only pair of jeans my postpartum hips will fit into have developed a serious undiagnosed spotty rash. The hood of my hoodie has also proved its worth as a spew catcher, but that's something I'd rather not remember in too much detail.
I was just acclimatising to my new messy world of spew, milk, unidentifiable liquids and unpleasant nappies (or diapers, for those of you playing at home on the other side of the big blue fish pond) when solid food turned up and crashed my party. DAMN YOU FOOD!
Now, solids weren't meant to make an appearance in our household until next month at the earliest. My husband and I had been hoping to delay the introduction of solids until the magical six month mark for the sake of our sanity and so we could cut our teeth, so the speak, with baby led weaning.
We had chosen baby led weaning from the myriad of theories and strategies that float around the mummy universe because it made the most sense to us and seemed like a fun and logical (albeit messy) way for my daughter to discover the big wide world of eating. We understand it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it certainly sounded like ours.
Our plan was straightforward: baby feeds self and develops great
relationship with food, Mummy doesn't have to make any special baby
foodstuffs, Daddy doesn't have to master the art of spoon aeroplanes and
the puppy gets to steal dropped leftovers.
Oh, it was going to be grand. Then, at four months, my daughter sprouted two front
teeth. Over the next month, she started chewing, then biting. She started reaching for
my plates and spoons. Then, when Mummy was perhaps paying a little too much attention to the
computer and not quite enough attention to the baby, the baby launched herself across my lap, bit into my unsuspecting banana and immediately turned into a hungry little food monster.
It seemed a little too early. What about the six month solids guideline? What about the timelines we had been told about at childbirth education? What about Doctor Google's stern advice and warnings? In the end, we decided to take a little bit of advice from all the different columns and apply a bit of commonsense to create our own workable solution.
Baby sitting up in the high chair by herself? Check.
Baby demonstrating good head control? Check.
Baby no longer thrusting her tongue? Check.
Baby showing an interest in food? CHECK!
And so, as with all master plans relating to babies, our baby led weaning plan was thrown a little off course. As our daughter's intentions toward food were clear, but her hand-to-mouth coordination couldn't quite keep up with her hunger, we had to introduce the spoon. Not to be entirely thwarted by inexperienced fingers, we developed a bit of our own haphazard hybrid system, giving finger food as a starter and the mushed variety for mains, mixed with a bit of expressed milk as a surprise baby bonus.
So far, the hybrid system is serving our little household pretty well. We're playing with a small amount of food once a day, but making sure its business as usual at the breastfeeding milk bar. Food is (sometimes) going in the mouth, hand and eye coordination is on the up and up and my little girl seems to be a pretty happy little vegemite all round.
Since food rocked in, though, my last hopes of cleanliness have jumped out the window. Spoon or not, a typical feeding session ends with the baby having some type of gloopy mush up her nose, in her ears and smooshed through her hair and eyebrows. Most of the food ends up on the floor, on the dog, in the crevices of the high chair or in a deeply intimate relationship with the tile grout.
Certain foods are quickly emerging as the nemesis of cleanliness. Steamed carrot has proven to be particularly nasty, leaving my white bowl and my white kitchen bench and my white round-the-house jumper stained with a permanent orange reminder of Baby Food: The Early Days.
I fear I have morphed into an unfortunately effective food magnet, with an enviable magnetic field. In the last five days alone I've found rice cereal painted down the front of my pants, a chunk of carrot squished under my arm, and banana remnants on the sole of my foot and stuck right through my ponytail.
Feeding my daughter solid food is taking its toll on my personal standards. My cleanliness care factor is rapidly diminishing, my attempts to shower and look nice before the noon food explosion have all but stopped and it takes more than one serious mess to make me bother to change my shirt ... is it time to panic yet?!
Baby: 26 points. Cleanliness: 0 points. Mummy: -17 points.
Tomorrow, joy of joys, we will experiment with pear or zucchini for the first time, depending on how the mood takes us. Please excuse me while I go and dig up something green to wear to help camouflage the experience.
How do you tackle food time in your house?
Have you tried baby led weaning?
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