I was initially filled with excitement at the prospect of feeding Oscar his first solids and I simply couldn't wait to get the pots and pans out and start cooking for him.
Friends had warned me that I would get sick of the endless separate meal preparation, the freezing and the worry when he rejected something I'd slaved over to prepare. However, I really enjoy cooking and so I duly purchased my copy of Annabel Karmel's highly recommended Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner (available from www.annabelkarmel.com).
I am given to understand that Ms Karmel is indeed the Delia Smith of baby food cookbooks, and there is a rather intimidating review quote on the back of the book from the Sunday Times, "Any mother who does not have at least one of her books in her kitchen...should waste no time in putting that right." Hmm.
So, does that mean I'm a bad mother if I don't buy and use this book? Maybe that's my issue, but nevertheless, I've given the book a good go.
Karmel writes very knowledgeably about the subject of feeding one's precious bubba, and at first I found the weekly meal planners especially helpful. Following them presumably means that you are giving your baby all the appropriate vitamins and minerals as the week wears on, rather than simply concentrating on a cycle of one or two particular dishes, over and over again.
Reading Karmel, you begin to understand which foods are appropriate for baby, when to introduce meat, cheese and eggs and how to vary things a bit so your baby gets the benefit of different nutrients to help them grow.
I'm not sure when it was that all this washing, slicing, grating and cooking started to become a bit of a chore. Maybe it was when I'd spent the best part of an hour grilling, cooling, peeling and pureeing a red pepper, only to have Oscar shudder with disgust at the taste and shortly afterwards vomit it back up again, along with most of the milk he'd been fed beforehand.
Or perhaps it was this morning, during his first nap of the day, when I'd sweated over a lentil casserole, only to discover after it had been simmering on the hob for 30 minutes, that I had left the gas on too high, and the entire thing was burnt and crusted to the bottom of the pan. Seems to me that I have more cooking disasters with Oscar's food than I ever do when I make adult meals.
The other thing about babies going onto solids is the fact that you have to be even more incredibly organised and prepared when it comes to going out and about, if your activities coincide with baby's mealtimes. It is no longer a case of just whipping the boob out when he's hungry or upset – as I've elected to recently give away breastfeeding – there are also formula and bottles to be included in the mix.
So, given the fact that I already have shades of OCD, packing the bag takes on a whole new dimension. Say Oscar and I are going out to meet a friend for lunch. His bag will include the following: sterilized bottle and cooled boiled water plus measured out formula in a little plastic container, two bibs (one for food and one for milk – I know, I know, I only need one, but I can't help it), a container of savoury food (maybe some burnt lentils), a container of pureed fruit, two spoons, a couple of rusks (in case one gets thrown onto the floor too many times), and a few zip lock plastic bags to put the dirty containers and bottle into afterwards. Said bag will also contain nappies, a muslin, baby wipes, hand sanitiser, a full change of clothes for him, a changing mat and some toys. And that's even before we look into what's in my own handbag!
But to be honest, I'm not complaining. Oscar really does love his food, and there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of cooking him something special to have him eat it up like a baby bird, clearly enjoying every mouthful and sometimes even crying with disappointment when the last spoonful is gone. I mean, even though P enjoys my cooking greatly, he has never wept when the plate is clean!
Do you make your baby's food?
Are there any good shortcut recipes you can share with other mums that makes your life easier?