Eat, Baby; Eat

Stacked up neatly in the top section of our freezer, are neatly organised tiny tupperwares full of baby food. The Little Mister has his own shelf. There is a row of kumara portions and a row of pumpkin portions. The tubs with yellow lids contain pureed apple while the tubs with green lids have pureed pear in them. The blue ones hold a rather fancy cinnamon infused pear and apple mix.

Milin won’t eat any of them. He won’t eat them warm, he won’t eat them mixed with baby rice or milk, he won’t eat them when we play airplanes, and he won’t eat them when one of us distracts him and the other sneaks the spoon into his open mouth.

He’s got a fancy high chair, which he loves to sit in and watch us eat. He’s got a cute little “me too” bench chair so he can sit up at the breakfast bar and feel part of the action. He’s got his own Thomas the Tank engine bowl and set of spoons. But he still won’t eat.

I’ve got a stack of books from the library which advise me that Milin must be relaxed and comfortable before we try food. Others suggest recipes and meal plans. On the kitchen top, there’s a rather smart baby mouli-type machine which steams anything I want and then purees it up into baby food using the same vitamin-rich liquid.

Over the last month, we’ve worked up something of a routine. I try and feed Milin. Milin purses his lips, arches his back, bats the spoon away, turns his head, and tries to back away over the back of his chair. If he could jump out of it he would. The result is the same, he won’t eat.

We had a visit today from a Plunket nurse who was going to help us. Plunket think Milin is hungry. I agree. But even the nurse couldn’t help. She was surprised to see how stubborn he was in his refusals. Take a break for a week, she said, so he doesn’t develop an aversion to the spoon. Then she said she thought he already had one. Maybe it’s because we tried so hard to get him to take bottles of formula. Now, he doesn’t want anything else shoved in his mouth. Fair enough.

So, we’re taking a break. I’m relieved. Poor Little Mister, I don’t want him to have hang ups over food before he is six months old. I know he’ll get there in the end, and hopefully soon he will be gobbling up all of my baby food concoctions. So, I’m trying not to worry. We’re going to give him the spoon to play with – as suggested by Plunket – and maybe he’ll start seeing it differently.

I had always imagined that babies loved food. I had a picture in my head of me feeding Milin while he sat in his high chair. I was laughing, he was smiling and babbling away. He had mush around his mouth and on his bib but I (uncharacteristically) didn’t mind the mess.

So far, that image has been far from our reality. And like many other aspects of bringing up a baby, the experience has been nothing like the glossy pictures in the how-to book. Instead, it’s been an unpredictable roller coaster that I wouldn’t have any other way.

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