I have written about our journey with food a few times by now. I wrote when I was frustrated that people were pushing Harley to eat solids before it was time (and even a force feeding incident). I wrote about baby led weaning and why I think it is good for baby development. I even wrote about Harley eating some interesting stuff, but there is something I didn’t write about – my worry and fear since she turned one. You see, the mantra of baby led weaning is “food before one is for fun”, and it worked great. I never worried if Harley just played with her food, tried stuff but didn’t swallow or whatever else; before one year old she could rely on breastmilk as her main source of nutrition and I didn’t need to worry if she didn’t really eat most days. But since her first birthday, I’ve been concerned about her lack of appetite for real food, her lack of interest in it for the most part.
As much as I kept telling myself that baby led weaning was the right path for us, of course I doubted myself. I wondered if I should have been pushing food on her more, striving to get her to eat more than the occasional piece of rice cake or tiny shred of chicken, pork or lamb. She loved to play with food, but I feared that she wasn’t really eating, wasn’t really getting the nutrition. Her poo started changing (I know, gross, and too much info, but it’s the reality of food vs breastmilk) but I still didn’t believe that she was actually eating enough. Well, things have finally really changed, and it appears my tiny person is developing a healthy appetite.
Over the weekend, we went for breakfast at a local, child-friendly place that I like. As usual, we got Harley a baby portion of french toast and bacon for breakfast – I usually end up eating her french toast as my dessert after my breakfast. She seemed way more interested in the food than usual, and I even managed to snap this picture for Instagram to rave about the power of baby led weaning.
But actually, this was a picture that made me feel even more confident. Not only did she play with her food, she continued to shovel the bacon into her mouth, and actually sorta chewed and swallowed it. Maybe it’s the fact that she has more teeth, or maybe it’s just a part of maturing and growing up. Maybe it’s because she started to eat more at nursery school, enjoying her food surrounded by the other munchkins. Whatever the reason, it has extended to pretty much everything – Cheerios, stir fry, curry and even crackers with pate.
I am so relieved. At 14 months, I don’t know if this is late, or normal, or whatever. And really, I’m not sure it matters. Harley is eating. She is still on the boob, too, but she is eating and looking for her food and water. She likes drinking from her cup, eating her snacks, sharing dinner with us.
It feels like a major milestone. Yes, she is also throwing more tantrums, screaming when I move her away from activities she wants (like plugs or the cats’ food or climbing on my desk). Yes, it’s a bit frustrating. But it’s also amazing to watch her discovery of food, of what she likes and wants. She seems to have a newfound appetite for life, and even though it now means new struggles, it also means she is even more of a real little person now. She is becoming her own tiny human, knowing what she likes and wants.
And I can’t help but feel not only relieved, but sort of vindicated. I don’t know if she would have this confidence, this curiosity, this excitement if I had gone a different route with her and food. I’m glad I waited as long as I did. I’m glad we went for baby led weaning so that food was never scary, traumatic or pressured. Now she is confident around food, going for the things she wants, enjoying new tastes, textures and experiences. She has found her appetite, and it is a joy to behold.