When pulp friction gets too much

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 January, 2012, 12:00am


It's official - my brain has gone to mush. My vocabulary is shrinking and now all that my baby-addled brain is thinking about is mushed apple, mushed carrot, mushed banana and mushed courgette.

You guessed it - we're weaning. I am sitting in bed on Sunday morning reading through Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner. If you don't know her yet, it's only a matter of time. Karmel is the Goddess of Weaning; her book is the bible.

'What do you reckon? Apple or sweet potato?' I ask my husband.

He's expanding his mind reading a history of China. It does not escape me that I am leafing through a book on how to pulp food and, quite literally, vegetating.

'Hmm?' he asks, lost in the Qing dynasty.

'Apple or sweet potato?' I ask, bamboozled by whether to blend fruit or vegetables.

'I don't know. You decide,' he replies.

The problem is I don't know what to decide. It turns out I actually know much more about the history of China than about what to feed a baby. So I set forth on a journey of discovery. Think Christopher Columbus; but with a bib.

Luckily, I am booked to go to a talk on weaning by Hong Kong-based nutritionist, Karin Reiter (www.nutritiousndelicious.com).

I arrive at 10am and get off to a bad start by producing a bag of doughnuts. Reiter eyes my plate with disdain and takes some pineapple from another mum's fruit platter.

She is the picture of health - bright eyed and glossy haired. I have bags under my eyes and my hair could do with a wash. I want tell her that I don't normally eat this crap, that I'm breastfeeding. I'm not going to give this sugary rot to my son.

The World Health Organisation suggests feeding babies exclusively on milk (breast or formula) until they are six months old. While it's extremely important to maintain the milk as the main source of nutrition in the first year, many people, Karmel and Reiter included, think that you can wean earlier if your baby is ready.

Reiter says it could be any time around the six month mark, when your baby can hold his head straight, is showing interest in your food and looks for more food after his or her milk feed. Tom's all these things at five months, so we're good to go.

'In the first few weeks give your baby small amounts of pur?ed, soft foods from a soft spoon,' says Reiter.

'Start with one teaspoon a half hour after a morning milk feed. Don't worry too much if your baby doesn't swallow too much at the beginning; it's all about the taste at this point.'

She suggests that in the first week you try baby rice mixed with breast milk or formula. In week two, you offer steamed, pur?ed organic vegetables: try pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, spinach, potato. By the third week you're onto fruits.

'The first two years of life is a critical window for optimal nutrition,' says Reiter. 'It's an ideal time to introduce your baby to a variety of textures and tastes. Research shows the more flavours introduced early in life, the more likely children will accept new foods later on.'

I am desperate to inform her that I eat fruit and vegetables and not just cake, but we've moved on.

I learn that I can freeze batches of baby food in ice cube trays because freezing doesn't reduce the nutritional value. Better clear some space in the freezer amid the old bottles of vodka - we won't be needing those any more.

So we set to it, and within a few days my little dumpling was ploughing his way through apples, pears, sweet potato and pumpkin.

The best thing about weaning is the cute faces your baby pulls when trying out all these new tastes: the wrinkled nose, the gurning mouth. And then, when they eat your mush, it's satisfying beyond belief.