Buying stuff for a baby is a bit like buying stuff for a wedding. Ooh, that's a nice white dress, £90, you say? Oh, it's for your wedding day? Then it's £900. Oooh, what a lovely small blanket. For a baby? Well, sorry, the cost just doubled.
Weaning is the same. They will try to sell you stuff. So much bloody stuff. They will manufacture products in brightly coloured plastics and then charge a premium for what are essentially smaller versions of things you already have. And you will go, oooh, that looks useful.
But, no! You're wise to it all now, right? You've been in this game for at least four months and your box room/cupboard/garage is already stuffed all that superfluous newborn junk you bought and never used. They won't get you this time.
Well, just in case, here's a little tour through all the superfluous weaning junk you don't need.
Baby food blenders
There are a lot of these. They are all singing-all dancing. They promise the world. Steaming, blending, self-cleaning, robotic feeding. And I guess people buy them.
But I have to ask those people: you do realise that blending baby food is the same as blending adult food, right? And you realise that they have just made a tiny blender and then charged you more for it than an actual, grown-up sized blender?
This is not okay, people.
Even if it does turn out to be a super useful, labour-saving gadget, if you're anything like me it will go the same way as the juicer/food processor/slow cooker. You will have a brief and productive honeymoon period in which you feel a disconcertingly real connection to this kitchen aide.
Then, one day, you will decide not to leave it out on the worktop any more – you need the space, and it's fluorescent green outer shell doesn't fit with 'farmhouse' theme of your kitchen any way. This will be done with the full intention of getting it out, using it, washing it up and putting it back each day.
But you won't do that will you? You have a life to lead. And so our friend the baby food blender will live out the rest of its days in the back corner of the pan cupboard, making the occasional special guest appearance until one day it is palmed off on an unsuspecting friend.
That weird mesh thing
Is your baby having problems with finger food? Do you find fruit slips too easily from their tiny little palms? Well here is the answer: a weird piece of netting on the end of some plastic. Seriously, this is a thing.
Okay, on the surface it seems like a good idea. You can put anything you want in there and not worry about choking hazards, bravo. Although at some point you will have to do away with the safety net; your child can't take their pack lunch to school in a giant piece of mesh. It just wouldn't be right.
And, yes, perhaps it teaches the child to chew and taste foods rather than 'inhaling them' (literally or metaphorically). But it's a bit weird isn't it?
Here you go Timmy, your dinner is within this complex device: your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to extract nutrients. If I were a baby I'd do the 'just give me a banana woman!' scream until you took the blasted thing away.
Oh and one more thing. Are they just a bit rank? How the hell do you clean them properly? I just think of my little sieve and how hard it is to get pasta gloop out of it. I certainly wouldn't let Bubs suck on that. Won't there just be a slow build-up of microscopic foodstuffs in the mess. No thanks.
A thousand 'special' spoons
The powers that be know that there is a pretty penny to be made in every corner of baby-related purchasing. It's not just the more inventive and complex contraptions that get the baby-price treatment. They do it with everything. Every the bloody spoons.
It is a well-known psychological phenomenon that a parent, when confronted with a wall of plastic utensils that all have the same basic function, will be paralysed by choices and just pick the one that looks the cleverest. 'Ergonomic' – brill.
'Approved by mums' – good one (what does that actually mean?Have you ever been asked to approve anything? I bloody well haven't!)
'BPA-free' – fantastic. I mean, I have no idea what a BPA is, but I gather it's not something I want in my child's mouth, thank you very much.
Of course once you've chosen your ergonomic, homeopathic, easy-clean, nappy-changing-included spoons, you glance at the price.
Since when is it okay to charge £5 for a pack of 5 spoons? That's a £1 per spoon people. PER. TINY. SPOON. HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FREAKIN' MINDS?
If you think a spoon shaped like an aeroplane will entice your seven-month-old into eating any more than they would eat with a normal spoon/a hollowed out twig/from your bare hands then you are mistaken, my friend. You are mistaken.
Anything endorsed by Annabel Karmel
I know Karmel's books are very helpful to a lot of you out there, but the way I see it, anyone who bills themselves as "a leading authority on children's food and nutrition" and then slaps their name onto over-priced products isn't someone I wanna give my cash to.
She sells stuff like this a baby-food masher and a plastic bowl – why is it being marketed as a new thing with a RRP of £7.99?
I am also marketing a new baby-food mashing system. I call it – the fork (available in selected stores or online at http://www.throwyourmoneydownthetoilet.com).
But even I, ranty sarcastic old me, wouldn't be that bothered if it ended there. She's been writing popular cookbooks for years; if Jamie Oliver gets to release his own cutlery range (fact) then why can't she market some baby crap? But then we have the food products she sells, many of which contain sugar, and salt.
Yes yes, I know that the general advice applies to children in their first year and these foods are labelled '12 months+'. But she is a nutritionalist, she knows this crap ain't good for the kids! (and yes of course Bubs has eaten salt and sugar, but I'm not marketing myself as childhood healthy-eating guru, now, am I?)
Annabel, if Aldi can make a baby rice cake without E numbers, salt or sugar, then I don't see why you can't too. #AldiVSAnnabel
Of course it's not just Karmel, there are loads of similar endorsements going on but hers is the one that surprises me most.
Basically, it would be nice to buy stuff that says it's healthy and is actually healthy, rather than sort of neutral in the health stakes.
Things that look like ice cube trays.
I'll let you into a little trade secret. THEY ARE JUST ICE CUBE TRAYS. You do not need to buy purpose-made freezerware for your child's food. They will try to sell it to you, oh yes they will. They will put a lid on an ice cube tray and call it a baby-food tray. In fact, they might not even put a lid on it. There is an extra charge for lids.
Also, you can just buy an ice cube tray with a lid, they're, like, £1.50 or something. Or just get freezer bags, freezer bags are great. Oooh, and also, you know the little tupperwares that chutneys come in when you get poppadoms with a takeaway curry? They are perfect!
So, basically, your take home message is buy less crap so that you can get yourself more takeaways. Responsible parenting, brought to you by the (mal)Contented Mother!
This article is republished with kind permission from the blog MalcontentedMother.com (rantings and reassurance for parents who aren't perfect). Follow Aileen on Twitter and Facebook for more funny and frank posts.
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