Parenting books

New research from the University of Warwick suggests that 50 years of parenting books have just made mums feel like failures. Well, really. I don’t think we needed ‘research’ to tell us that. You can’t preach at people in a high-and-mighty hectoring tone, or insist they see the world from your point of view, and expect good results. You need tact and diplomacy. Persuasion is always better than coercion.

On another note, may I remind the residents of Fitton that any able-bodied person who insists on parking in the disabled bay outside Tesco Metro, whether or not she is carrying a giant handbag, may be publicly ‘named and shamed’ on this website. You have been warned.

Spoon-feeding makes babies fatter

What are we to make of the latest research from Nottingham University that spoon-feeding babies can lead to obesity? The idea seems to be that if you let babies grab hold of solid items like toast – rather than shovelling purées into their mouths – they are less likely to get fat.

I am, as you can imagine, all in favour of anything that teaches early lessons in self-discipline. But there is another important issue here that the national press seems to have entirely overlooked.

If you allow babies free rein to do what they like at mealtimes, there can be only one possible result. Chaos.

It is not pleasant to have to sponge down the whole kitchen because your infant has decided to experiment with the glue-like properties of ripe banana thrown at full tilt from a highchair. Even the more solid foodstuffs like celery and oatmeal biscuits can become a health hazard when allowed to decompose in a clandestine fashion under a table leg.

 (I have never quite forgotten those hours with dilute bleach after Berta decided to let Robin have a ‘hands-on’ experience with raspberry yoghurt.)

 In my opinion, independent eating is only ever advisable when all available surfaces have been covered in plastic sheeting and you yourself are wearing protective clothing.

 This is the trouble with ‘research’. It is so rarely practical.

(photo Clare Bloomfield)