They say motherhood is a constant learning journey, and with it comes challenges that you kinda have to manage and overcome. For first-time mothers in particular, there is a lot of uncertainty as they try to understand themselves and the little ones they have delivered.
My son’s first few months seemed easy, considering I exclusively breastfed him until he was six months old. However, when he was five months old, I started feeling nervous and anxious, bearing in mind that I was going to be weaning him in a few weeks.
Like every other decision I’ve made since I started this journey, I’ve given too much thought to the weaning process – what are the best foods to start with? What fruits should I give him? Will he be allergic? – these are some of the questions that lingered in my mind.
And like most mothers, who have made Google their best friend, my first instinct was to seek advice on the Internet, and I researched probably all the questions that came to mind. But the information I got was overwhelming – not to mention conflicting views – which didn’t make my thought process any less easy.
Still, it wasn’t all meaningless, as I put together content that seemed to be prevalent on most sites, giving me a broader perspective of what was to come.
Either way, many recommended talking to a pediatrician even after distributing what looked like solid content. However, while it’s convenient to sort out the advice of an expert, not everyone can afford the luxury of seeing a pediatrician.
I appreciated the advice I received, but my thirst for what I was looking for was not quenched, so I moved on to another fruitful platform to seek information; social media.
Community groups on Facebook are great for people with similar interests to engage and share meaningful information on specific topics. For example, when I started giving my baby porridge, I wanted to know which type was better, so I asked my colleague, who referred me to a popular Facebook page for mothers.
I popped the question, and within minutes responses started pouring in from experienced mothers – some who seemed happy to give me the information based on the comments “welcome to motherhood” and “you’re doing a great job” .
That’s not to say the wealth of information wasn’t overwhelming, but it provided the answers I was looking for closer to home.
It was different from when I searched on Google; the conversations seemed genuine and practical, not to mention the advantage that most of the members were in the same locality and therefore even recommended where to acquire some of the things I needed.
However, while browsing the previous threads, I noticed some very contradictory statements from some members.
For example, a mother wanted to know which vegetables were suitable for her seven-month-old baby, and some of the answers left me quite puzzled.
For example, I read that spinach should not be given to a baby under one year old – contrary to what I thought, given the many benefits – and that traditional greens were best, while others were of the opposite opinion.
What shook me was that some of the women who gave the information were either doctors or nutritionists and their conflicting statements left me a bit perplexed.
After introducing my baby to solid foods, he was constipated for the first few days. I told a colleague that I wanted to feed my son papaya to see if it would help him have a bowel movement, but I was warned against it.
“Papaya is acidic and your baby might react to it,” she said. But since I had made up my mind, I was going to give it to my baby; after doing my little research, i fed my son papaya.
To my surprise, he pooped, which made me happy, but I kept hoping he wouldn’t react. And after a few weeks of including papaya in his diet and his bowel movements improving without causing an allergic reaction, I congratulated myself, knowing that I had made the right decision.
I’m always introducing my son to different foods and fruits to explore, but his favorite seems to be ugali and stew, with papaya being his best fruit.
Throughout this process, I have noted a few points about weaning a baby, one being that it is normal to experience mixed emotions during weaning. However, take it easy and take time to adjust to the new normal.
Also, babies are different. Most mothers in Facebook community groups gave advice based on their children’s reaction to solid foods, resulting in conflicting opinions.
This also goes for friends, family and colleagues. Still, ask for help when you feel stuck and don’t ignore the information provided, as some of it might be useful for your specific needs.
Do your research, but don’t let it engulf you into guessing every move you make. Some of the information and recommendations you receive may not work for you for reasons such as finances.
However, if you can afford an expert opinion, like going to a pediatrician, then by all means, do it. Ultimately, choose what will make the weaning process more comfortable for you and your baby.
Finally, a mother will always know what is best for her baby, having spent the most time with him and observed his behavior as he grows up.
So let your baby explore the different types of food, and in any case of an allergic reaction, you’ll identify it early enough and find the best possible solution.