I am not ‘Queen of Wean’. I am not, in any way, a smooth operator in the kitchen. I had good intentions with NG of chopping, boiling, mashing and freezing but when I realised ‘baby led’ was letting her muck about with bits of actual food, I confess I shoved all thoughts of the ubiquitous Ella’s Kitchen and my own out of my mind, filled the ice trays with water and bought a bottle of gin. I am not a snob; I’m just lazy.
But even blanching broccoli takes time. And whilst NG was six months when she tasted the ‘real stuff’, my son is a greedy blighter. This week, a combination of recovery from illness (him), decline in breast milk (me) and the twitching, electric energy of Frankenstein’s frog (both – now denied dairy, I am wired on caffeine) meant our ‘weaning journey’ started earlier than expected.
“… and a black coffee, please,” I pant, wrestling out of my snow jacket (unnecessary as the February sun is streaming through the windows of Costa) and sink into the sofa. NC is grizzling like a Hampshire Highways digger. I unstrap, hitch up my jumper and reach for the newspaper.
The sucking stops. He pulls away.
“What’s the matter, little froggy?” I ask, pointlessly. “Aren’t you hungry?”
His eyes bulge. He is hungry. Just not for me.
The waitress brings my incredibly expensive vegan chocolate cake. He gazes at it like a starving bird and gums his wrist bone.
Then I remember. At the weekend, my SuperMum friend hosted a birthday party for her 2yo where the party bags were tailored. NC’s contained Ella’s Kitchen ‘from 4 months’ pouches, now in the nappy bag.
The story of Ella’s Kitchen is not quite as romantic as that other foody-kiddy-friendly explosive marketing success story innocent drinks, but I have little doubt that Paul Lindley, the founder, considers himself up there with Richard Reed et. al. in terms of success. Indeed, he has already reached an entirely different level with start-up toddler cleaning range, Paddy (his other child)’s Bathroom – unless, like us, your bathroom is on the ground floor. Paddy’s Bathroom commits clean water for one month for every product it sells to children in Rwanda. That’s pretty bloody impressive in anyone’s book.
Paul Lindley has reached a different level from Ella’s Kitchen with Paddy’s Bathroom – unless, like us, your bathroom is on the ground floor.
I shake cake off my spoon and push the thought of the Duchess of Cambridge a) not eating cake and b) pureeing her own, home-grown vegetables for Charlotte. ‘Peaches + banana’ seems too much like pudding so I crack open ‘Spinach, apples + swedes’. I’ve never seen a green like it. It is, actually, hypnotic. But hey, his poos are green anyway. It must be worth a shot.
NC loves it. LOVES. IT. And since then, those brightly coloured packs with the cartoony, ‘be-my-friend’ fruit ‘n’ veg pictures have become staples in my cupboard, like so many other mothers. (I would bet even Kate has a few tucked away in the pantry).
NG likes them too. At breakfast today, she circles.
“When I am a baby, I CAN have this baby food, Mummy.”
Unfortunately, I find it almost irresistibly sweet when she says things like this.
“Mummy? I am a baby now.”
Calmly, she takes ‘Parsnips, parsnips, parsnips’ from the table, puts the nozzle to her lips sucks. NG gazes at it like a starving bird and gums his wrist bone.
“Why don’t you feed him?” I ask, stupidly optimistically.
NG spoons a bit of gunk into her brother’s mouth, managing to maintain her sangfroid commendably. It is exactly the right consistency not to fall off before it gets there or dribble out too much once it’s in. Then she does it again. And again. He smiles adoringly at her. This is amazing.
I wait with bated breath for the novelty to wear off but I think the thought of Peppa Pig feeding Baby Alexander spurs her on and … I get 10 minutes over breakfast WITH MY HANDS TO MYSELF. I drink my coffee. I text my friend. I brush my hair.
“Now, wipe his mouth,” I say when the final spoonful has been delivered.
“No,” she says, making a face. “‘Cos his face is too grubby”.
“OK,” I say. “Fair enough.” But, actually, I think Paul Lindley might be able to help with that one.
Disclaimer: I was not provided anything from Ella’s Kitchen or Paddy’s Bathroom range for the purposes of this review. I just know I like one and think I might like the other.
KEY TO CHARACTERS
Characters are abbreviated as follows:
NW – not William (husband and father)
NG – not George (daughter, sister and two and a half year old)
NC – not Charlotte (son, brother and four month old)
NL – not Lupo (a Labrador)