Warning: this post about babies eating features pictures of… babies eating. I agree that pics of babies eating that AREN’T my baby are gross, but I will say that these aren’t as… graphic as some I’ve seen. Those will come later (after we introduce spaghetti and tuna fish sandwiches).
Part of the fun (and the odd sadness) of Babaloo reaching the hoary old age of one (half) year is that it’s time to start solids! There’s so much information out there about best practices for introducing littles to solid food that it’s tempting to just throw your hands up and despair of EVER getting it “right”! Rice cereal? Lentils? Spoon-feeding? Baby-Led Weaning?
And with this, as with every other parenting decision, it feels like any decision I make is choosing a parenting philosophy. You can’t, just, like, feed your child. You have to be “following baby-led weaning” or “feeding traditionally”. I read the baby-led weaning book and really enjoyed it, except for the between the lines insinuations that NOT allowing babies to feed themseves 100% of the time, no exceptions, sets them up for a lifetime of obesity and allergies and food aversions and G-d only knows what.
So feeding Babaloo has gotten off to a rather slow and gradual start as I work on putting aside my own baggage about food and how to eat it (which I sense will be an ongoing battle for me). She has a Stokke high chair (with infant insert) that can be pushed up to the table, and starting at about 5 months she joined us in it at the table any time we ate, her with a toy and us with our food. When she was about five and a half months, and was sitting up well and bringing toys to her mouth quickly and accurately, I started giving her cold, hard foods like celery and cucumber. Bonus – these are supposed to be good for teething (not that we’re seeing any evidence of teeth yet).
(I took the fabric cover off of the high chair after we started giving her mushier foods. Ain’t nobody got time to clean that fabric after every meal.)
She loved gumming the cool vegetables. After a couple of weeks of this, I couldn’t stand it any more, and we started plotting to give her more actual people food. Her first avocado experience was a bust—too slippery for her to handle. Logan bought her tiny fingerling bananas, which worked pretty well. I baked a sweet potato and we cut it into large wedges, and she mashed them into her mouth happily. Most came right back out, but some stayed. And best of all from my perspective, gagging was minimal, and there were no panicked moments while she tried to figure out how to move food around her mouth! Phew. I didn’t even have to dip into my Xanax stash.
Her favorite FAVORITE of the earliest foods has been broccoli. She took her baby-fist size floret and jammed it into her face repeatedly. She rubbed it EVERYWHERE (when Logan gave her her nightly post-baby led weaning bath, he found it in her eyelids). Big fan.
We tried avocado again at Granna and Pa’s house in Mandeville, this time with a silicone feeder. We have a mesh feeder as well, but that seems to work best for juicy fruits. You don’t want to clean anything with any level of goop (bananas, avocado) out of that thing, but it was great when we tried it with watermelon and cherries.
Success! She really got into it.
One piece of gear I’ve been really pleased with is her NumNum dippers. They’re these spoons that are the perfect size to grasp in a baby fist. One is designed for chunkier foods and the other for thinner ones. We’ve pre-loaded them with bites of yogurt, refried beans, and hard-boiled egg yolk for her and they’ve worked really well for getting non-grippable foods to her mouth. She’s reasonably accurate with them. She likes sharing my morning full-fat yogurt with me.
So, let’s see. So far, two weeks in, she’s had bananas, avocado, sweet potato, broccoli, peaches, pear, watermelon, carrots, green beans (still a little hard to navigate), chicken breast, cheese grits, peas in white sauce, refried beans, and a piece of pumpkin ravioli (regarded with suspicion). It’s been pretty fun introducing her to all of these new foods, though it definitely stresses me that soon she’ll be ready to eat full meals and I will be responsible for providing them (Logan does ALL of the cooking around here – my breakfasts tend to have very little variety, mostly muffins I bake on the weekend or a slice of store-bought bread with yogurt, and lunches are either scrounged or drive-through burgers). I’m trying to look at this as an opportunity to grow and change in how I cook and approach food, but it’s definitely anxiety-inducing!
And we’ll of course have to think about oral hygiene, too. Luckily, Babaloo is a fan of her banana toothbrush.
The last thing I’m concerned about with introducing her to food is that I had a few food allergies as a child, including reactions to strawberries, melons, and shellfish. Logan also had a reaction to strawberries, so I’m doubly worried about that one. Luckily, we no longer have issues with any foods, but I will certainly be a little anxious as we slowly introduce more allergenic foods! We’re going to hold off on the first of those for a month or so and then probably introduce them early in the day so we can watch for a reaction. Ho boy.