As part of the Optigrow feeding study that we stupidly signed up to in a daze of postnatal hormones, I now have to complete a 5 day food diary for the study requirement at the 6 month mark.
As an aside, let me qualify my use of "stupid" first.
I'm sure this is useful research and there may be great benefit for babies born in the future. The study is not stupid as such, it's me who's stupid to have signed up for it, because it's a right pain in the bum. I had to complete endless feeding diaries at various stages (each of the first 10 days, at 1, 2, 4 months for three days each) plus heavy water tests (4 of those at each of those months), amongst other things. As to the feeding diaries, well, at night time I'd rather not have to wake up to an extent that I can see and actually remember the time of a feed. Add to that a frequently feeding baby but only space for 10 feeds in a day (I'm never sure what counts as a feed- I mean, do I count hourly feeds in the evenings/at night as separate feeds, or only if there is a minimum 2 hour gap? And how do I tell comfort suckling from a proper feed?) which always reminds me that yes, she is a rather frequent feeder and shouldn't I be concerned, are they telling me that if she feeds more than 10 times in a 24 hours period we're waaayyy off the chart and she's not getting enough? Plus, the convenience of breast feeding is not having to watch the clock, so I strongly resented having to fill in this diary (and I admit I made up part of it). The heavy water test - oh my. Another obnoxious little addition to a total of 10 days. Doesn't sound much, but it involves checking nappies every 30 hours until there is a pee, and again until there is another one. Which severely interferes with busy schedules and makes for a baby who is constantly disturbed in her sleep.
No, I didn't like feeding diaries or heavy water tests one bit and had I known how much work it is, I'd not have signed up. Or at least I'd have demanded money for the effort.
Now, at 6 months, I have to complete a 5 day food diary. Luckily, we've not really started weaning (she's a week short of 6 months anyway) and it's not too hard. But if we had, it would have been another massive effort. And I have to admit that I'm partly delaying the start of weaning until after Wednesday because of this requirement - I so can't be bothered recording every crumb she eats.
Now to my main point (yes, there is one) - what disturbs me is the "sample" food diary that comes with the study, the one that's meant to give parents an idea of how to complete the food diary form. Now remember, this food diary is taken a week before the 6 months mark, and again a week before the 12 months mark, i.e. both before the baby turns one.
The examples include a chocolate hobnob, a slice of chocolate cake, scrambled egg, strawberry jam. My jaw drops open. The remainder of foods is made up of jars, or goodies such as white bread and sweetened yoghurt.
So we have food which isn't great but kind of ok, and food which is actually not recommended before the age of one. In a sample food diary. To me this sends out the message that this is normal food a baby might be weaned on, and for the first time parent, it may even serve as a source of ideas for nutritious meals, after all it comes from an infant feeding study!
What were they thinking when they drew this up? The only reason to present such an atrocious example of weaning foods is to say to those parents who do wean their babies on chocolate hobnobs (though know that this is not ideal) that it's ok, you may put it into the diary and don't have to keep it secret from us. But even then, I still feel what they've done is shockingly wrong. It is a sample menu and it will be taken as an example of what a baby might be weaned on. It will encourage people to offer stuff that's not good for such a young baby earlier than they would have otherwise. Nevermind the missed opportunity of providing a good example of a weaning diet.
I'll be getting the chocolate cake (with icing and filling) out then. I'm sure she's gonna like it.