I've been lucky enough to gather together a collection of weaning stories, written by parents who have taken some time to reflect back on an aspect of their weaning journey. This series of posts are not intended to provide advice, but instead offer insights from parents that will inspire, support and encourage you with feeding your own baby.
In this blog, poet and mama Holly Ruskin, aka @mother.in.motion on Instagram, shares her reflections on weaning her daughter.
Motherhood is one phase after the next, strung together like pearls. Each one beautiful, imperfect and crafted by the nature of our children.
From the moment they’re born, how we feed them is up for debate. A politicised act of either/or, providing our society with yet another way to divide women. Nourishment and true intimate connection seem to get lost somewhere between birth and the breast or bottle.
Of course in reality, however we choose to feed our babies will eventually become just another phase. Another imperfect pearl.
I worried for some time about when and how to start weaning our daughter onto solids. The bombardment of conflicting advice from well meaning midwives, health visitors, friends and relatives felt like a recipe for weaning disaster.
Quite simply, how would I know when she was ready?
In the end, of course, I should have known that my daughter would show me when she was ready.
One afternoon I was eating a slice of apple; a snack she must have seen me eat a hundred times. That day though, I felt her really see it.
Weaning lacked the fanfare I’d been expecting, when she simply plucked the slice of apple from my hand and took a bite. Now it was my turn to really see her.
Pear, cucumber, steamed carrot batons, porridge, toast and cheese soon followed. I was surprised by how quickly favourites were established and even more so when broccoli topped this list. On the days when she’d only eat cucumber though, doubts would creep in and I would frantically start questioning whether she was getting the right balance of nutrients.
She entered the solids ring like a little gladiator: brave, determined and intent on conquering all. Our kitchen floor was soon littered with her detritus, her preferred method of refusing a particular food a casual lob over her shoulder.
You could describe our weaning journey as humbling, scary and exciting. Much like parenting itself.
Thanks to social media and the rise in visibility of professional nutritionists, there is simple and evidence based advice to be found for mothers online. This has been something I’ve turned to when looking for reassurance certainly.
So often as mothers we are told to trust our instincts, but if weaning has taught me anything, it is to trust my daughter’s first.
My daughter turns one soon and though I’ve written about many aspects of motherhood, weaning and eating have never made it into my work. Perhaps I’ve doubted the magic in this seemingly routine process.
But as the next pearl is strung and I near the end of my maternity leave, I’ve started to really watch my daughter while she eats. I look on in wonder as she puts a slice of lemon to her lips, plucks a pea from her bowl or stretches a string of spaghetti between her fingers. It is beautiful.
Letting go can be one of the hardest parts of being a mother. Learning to see our babies as their own little human beings with autonomy over their bodies, appetites and emotions is frightening as well as liberating.
So now when I begin to doubt her, I remember that slice of apple and its sweet reminder that my daughter will always be my greatest teacher.
You can read more of Holly's beautiful poetry on motherhood over at @mother.in.motion
If Holly's weaning story has inspired you to share you own, I would love to hear from you over on my instagram page
And if you are getting ready to start weaning and would like to know more about how to recognise when your baby is ready, or what those signs might look like, you can join my monthly online weaning workshops.