I think parenthood is a constant battle in so many different ways.
The battle that has been on my mind lately is one of self conflict between the excitement between my baby developing new skills and moving onto the next stage vs terrified of what is to come and wanting my baby to stay a baby.
Now I love children, always have. I have always wanted a big family and I think children make life a fun and enjoyable experience. I hoped that I would be a youngish mum so I could spend most of my life raising the family I had dreamed of and I am incredibly fortunate that it has worked out this way. So when I say I want my baby to stay a baby, I don’t really mean it from the point of view that I can’t wait for all the family adventures that are to come. Exploring the park together, family holidays, jumping waves at the beach or cycling together. These are all things that will come in time and require growth.
However…change and development can be scary. The bigger and older children get, the more things you have to worry about!
So this is why I have had inner conflict this week. Weaning is an exciting time of new tastes and textures. The development of new skills and co-ordination to be able to hold food and eat it.
I have been placing different types of finger food in front of my daughter for months and at first it ended up on the floor. Then she decided it was actually quite good fun to hold, squeeze and smear; be it on her high chair, face and/or clothes. I have spent many a meal time showing her how to bring the food up to her mouth. Demonstrating with pieces of food making yummy noises. Taking bites of food she held in her hand to encourage her to try too.
I had been eagerly anticipating when my baby would make this big step forward. It was only a week ago that she finally cracked how to pick up and drink from her cup with no assistance what so ever. So with this progression I knew that picking up and eating her food wouldn’t be far behind. This was exciting! My daughter is around about 9 months but I haven’t felt the pressure of timescales for doing anything as I feel all children develop at their own speed. So when she finally put food in her mouth for the first time this week I felt incredibly torn. I was unbelievably proud of my little baby girl doing such a grown up thing. Although… Oh… Goodness… Be careful!
The sudden realisation that my child was in control of what was entering her mouth was scary! Before I started weaning I had been worried about choking and I am probably not alone in this fear. I have family who have really struggled with their child terribly gagging while eating which was very frightening for both parent and child. I would say I entered weaning cautiously but determined to not be too afraid that I held her back. She turned out to be a very good eater and a few gags aside (which I think every child has and will continue to have) everything was actually pretty easy.
Which is probably why this is making me a little uneasy as she holds a baby rice cracker in her mouth. I know that she has to learn and I know that realistically she can handle it. Although that fear creeps in. The fear that actually what if she takes too much and I can’t stop it from happening? What if she doesn’t just gag, what if she chokes?!
I feel like I spent the entire meal on tender hooks and I must admit it hasn’t got any easier yet. I am sure in a week or two when this becomes old news then I will find it isn’t a big deal but for now I think I will spend most meal times slightly anxious.
Something I can not advocate enough is a first aid course. I strongly urge every parent or caregiver to learn how to help a choking child and any other life saving skill.
I had already signed up for a course thankfully and it was running the day after her achievement. So I know with the knowledge I have, while it might make me sick to the stomach thinking of ever having to use it, makes me feel confident that I could help my child in a bad situation or at least until I got help if nothing else.
Everything aside, this was a big achievement and I think no matter how scary each milestone is for the parent, we must remember how amazing each and every development stage is and be thankful as it happens.
Wife and mother, x
First aid courses are widely offered in most areas. Speak to your local health service for advice on where you could find one. Encourage your family to go too, it might just save a life.