Our doctor suggested I either wean her or introduce a thickener to her milk. As she was exclusively breastfed that would involve expressing every feed and mixing with infant Gaviscon. Introducing solids seemed the best solution all round. Sure enough the reflux cleared up almost straight away.
We began with purees. I'd been expecting Cherry to absolutely wolf anything I offered her, but the reality was she was entirely nonplussed about food. She didn't love it, she didn't hate it. She nothing-ed it. After just two weeks she point blank refused a spoon, so we started baby-led weaning and I let her go at her own pace.
For months and months she picked at morsels of whatever I offered her but she rarely guzzled with gusto. She did show preferences, but I was keen to introduce her to a variety of foods so she was as likely to only eat one bite as she was to clear her tray. She was healthy, happy, gaining weight and still taking plenty of milk, so I had no need to panic. She would get there in her own time.
A year on and Cherry does love food - some foods. She goes crazy for berries and grapes, to the point where we have to hide them from her to stop her demanding them all day long. She adores cheese and will root a packet out of the fridge and start gnawing on it, given the chance. She can destroy a meal if she likes it, and she can shove a new dish away without even trying it. In short, she's a typical toddler.
When I started thinking about Cherry's eating this past year, I realised I had fallen into the trap of making endless versions of the same five meals. I was offering her the same thing over and over again, because it was quick, healthy and I knew she would eat it.
This approach is great short-term if you want to get weight on your toddler but Cherry's never struggled in that department. The more I thought about it the more I realised not only was I dramatically narrowing the nutrition she was exposed to, I was inadvertantly allowing a toddler's picky palate to dictate. At just 17 months! Carry on this way and I could already see her becoming the kind of child who would only eat one thing - and I was enabling her.
There's nothing wrong with the foods she was eating - variations on tomato-based pasta, frittata, fish/chicken 'cakes' made with potato and a green veg, fish fingers, potatoes and peas, and sweet potato with beans and corn on the cob. All are healthy, substantial and nutritious. But the variety was shrinking. I know enough about food to know that the best way to get the best nutrition possible is to eat a wide variety of food, rather than turn to supplements and artificial alternatives.
In the past week I have offered Cherry lentil soup, salmon risotto, cauliflower soup, home-made bread and jam, wholemeal pancakes with leeks, mushrooms and cheese, pasta with purple sprouting broccoli and homemade pesto, courgette polpette with salad, sweet potato fingers with hummus, homemade honey and almond cake, and homemade apple and oat muffins. Unsurprisingly the bread, jam, cake and muffins have been a huge hit, as were the pancakes and she stuffed down a fair bit of the filling too so I'm taking that as a triumph. The other dishes have been less successful. She's tried bits and bobs but largely refused them.
I tend to eat with Cherry anyway and honestly, I have never eaten better! I've never eaten particularly badly but the emphasis on nutritious home-made foods means for the first time this pregnancy I've actually felt great. Not sick, not bloated, not 'bleurgh', just like a happy, healthy pregnant woman.
We will definitely keep this up. I plan to alternate new and interesting dishes with her staples - so at least once a day for lunch or dinner I will offer her something I know she will eat, and the rest of the time we will try new things. I love cooking and Cherry has started 'cooking' with me, stirring and playing with her own bowl of porridge oats. She also eats a fair few of them - but I have no problem with her snacking on oats! We've spent some very happy afternoons together in the kitchen - just as I did cooking with my mother.