A Food Fixation

Can her baby have too much of a good thing, asks Michelle Dickson-Garay

It seems that some things are naturally associated with becoming a mum. Growing larger during pregnancy is natural, getting less sleep after your bub is born is natural, losing your memory while breastfeeding seems natural (it has happened to almost everyone I know), but knowing when to feed your little one solids, and which solids to start with does not come naturally.

Armed with a book that promised to tell me everything I needed to know about bub in her first year, I felt I could conquer this feeling of not knowing what to do next. I kept telling myself that I had never done this before, so to just go with my gut feeling. Most of the time my gut feeling didn’t let me down.

As my beautiful little baby girl grew and became ready for foods other than breast milk, I embarked on that inevitable quest of ‘which food first?’. Of course, I wanted to do everything right for Rhoie. The food had to be well chosen, and prepared and cooked in the most nutritious manner. Our freezer was filled with pureed this and that, ready to be defrosted and heated to just the right temperature. And, of course, I was advised to introduce one food at a time, and to give that same food at each mealtime for a number of days before introducing another new food.

Rhoie progressed very well through the foods. Mostly vegetables and fruit at first, and she loved each one. In particular, she loved bananas. I thought this was brilliant. After all, they needed no cooking, little preparation and were totally portable.

But then Rhoie decided to eat nothing but bananas. At first I laughed, and thanked the universe that bananas were in season and relatively reasonable in price, but after two whole days of Rhoie refusing all food other than banana, I panicked.

I phoned my mother, I phoned my grandmother. I phoned almost every other mother I knew. Most of them told me not to stress. Some of them had very odd theories about food obsessions. I read my book – there was nothing about babies being fixated on one food type.

By day five of the bananas-only regime I could not take it anymore. I packed Rhoie up bright and early and headed off to the early-childhood health centre. I just wanted to ask the nurse about the yellowfruit obsession, but she insisted on doing the weight, height and head measurements, and then, and only then, did we talk about feeding.

I told her about the five days of bananas only, about how worried I was that this might indicate that Rhoie was lacking in something that she was trying to make up for by eating only bananas.

She sat listening, but flicking through Rhoie’s health book, while I continued my diatribe. All she said was, “Michelle, this is your issue, not Rhoie’s”.

My issue? What on earth did she mean? I didn’t have issues!

“Michelle, if Rhoie was refusing all food at this age I would worry. The fact that she has wisely chosen bananas as her preferred food right now is a blessing. She could have chosen something far less healthy! Don’t worry, soon she’ll move on to something else. She is more than fine. She is a wise little soul. Bananas are good, easy baby food – enjoy the ease of it while she still loves them…”

I blushed deeply, thanked her for her reassurance and left the building. My first stop was the local greengrocer’s, where bananas were on special. I bought a huge bag of the glorious sun-coloured fruit and felt as if I was the best mum ever!

Of course, overnight, Rhoie’s love of bananas vanished. Instead, she hoovered down sweet potato and pear… and apple and carrot… and broccoli and berries. Rhoie’s diet became wonderfully varied – and anyone who came to visit over the following few weeks was offered banana bread, banana muffins, banana cake…