Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Starting Solids

Most people start their children on tasting solids sometime between 4 and 6 months.  I, however, had a gut "mommy" feeling that we ought to delay that a bit longer.  For some reason, I felt that waiting until 8 or 9 months would be best for Liam.

I wanted him to be able to steadily (not wobbly) sit-up on his own before introducing solids.  Thankfully, our pediatrician was supportive of this decision.  Plus, I could find no data that indicated that it would be a detriment to wait past the typical 4 to 6 months.  So wait, we did.

And, during that time, I thought heavily about the concept of "baby-led weaning," which often results in children becoming very good, non-picky eaters who will gladly sample a varied cuisine.  The philosophy goes like this:  Give the child large pieces of food to gnaw and chew on.  Let them self-feed by exploring, tasting, and naturally choosing their own bite size.  Instinctively, they will swallow something only if it is the desired size.

And what if something's not the desired size?  The philosophy continues:  A baby's gag reflex will naturally prevent accidental chocking.  Teeth are not necessary.

So why do this?  They say that, by mashing and pureeing foods, we reverse a natural progression.  We teach children to swallow before we teach them how to properly chew their food.

I was almost convinced.  I came very, very close.

But, when I read the comments in online forums and learned from other mothers how their children gagged and threw up several times in the process of "learning," I decided against it.  I didn't want my son's first experiences with eating to mixed with his first experience of throwing up.  No, thank you.

Then, shortly after Easter and shortly after turning 7 months old, Liam hit the mark I was waiting for.  He sat up on his own for extended periods of time, and the cute little wobbling that he had done before was replaced by a solid steadiness!!  Was it time to start?  I had a few jars of baby food in my pantry, ready for this moment.

"Food before one is just for fun," a friend's pediatrician quipped.  My friend Erin, who just started her son on solids, reminded me to think of solids as not being the removal of breastmilk but rather the addition of another eating option.  This relaxed me.

And so it was time to begin.

Or, begin again, as we had let our boy sample a little bit of sweet potato on the Feast of Saint Joseph when he was 6.5 months old.  We were in a celebratory mood, I guess.  :)

Anyway, here now between 7 and 8 months old, Liam has been enjoying one or two tablespoons a day of something other than my breastmilk.  He's tried sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, pears, peas, and hot wheat cereal.  Only the peas have not gone over well, as you might imagine.  Oh, what a cute little grimace he made!

Instead of buying jars of baby food, I've been serving up fresh stuff from the Baby Bullet blender.  Instead of a spoon, I've been allowing him to use these ingenious self-feeding devices:

Left: infant spoon.  Right: netted feeder.

But then, sometimes, you just have to use a spoon because being fed is so much fun.  :)

Daddy's about to give our boy his first taste of solid food!
Mom gets to give scoop #2!

We're not sure yet if we like sweet potatoes.

Oh yes, we do!
UPDATE:  I'm letting Liam dictate how much solid food he eats in a day.  The pediatrician says I can feed him up to two cups of food a day.  On some days, he seems to want nothing other than my breastmilk, even when I offer foods.  And on other days, he's more than willing to down anything else I give him!  It is fun to see what he decides on and likes!  :)