It’s an exciting, messy time in my house.
We have started solid foods.
I did a lot of research on our options, in large part because I’m very choosy about what I eat, and I wanted to make smart decisions for helping my daughter learn to like real, whole foods. I also wanted to make sure she was getting a balanced diet, learning not only how to eat but how much to eat (that will make more sense in a moment) and other best practices.
(Yeah, I hear all of you been-there-done-that moms laughing. I know you can’t make your kid a healthy eater by will power alone, but I figure it can’t hurt to try, especially in these early months.)
After months of researching, reading, planning and educating ourselves, we ended up just jumping in.* And so far — so good!
We’re following sort of a loose interpretation of Baby Led Weaning (an English phrase that doesn’t make as much sense here in the States, where weaning indicates an end of breastfeeding) although we call it baby solids or first foods. Instead of feeding a lot of Stage 1 purees or packaged products, we’re offering Audrey babyfied versions of the foods we eat.
Here are a few of the resources that I’m following**:
- Baby-Led Weaning
- Wholesome Baby Food
- the http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/ website is a great place for recipes and tutorials
- Introducing Solid Foods for the Breastfed Baby webinar from Isis Parenting
Early hits include sweet potatoes, broccoli (and broccolini), cheese and scrambled eggs. Avocado and banana are a bit slippery for her to hold onto, even when rolled in cereal or bread crumbs, but I’ll keep trying.
We even gave her a tiny “pizza” that my husband made of some dough, homemade tomato sauce and organic cheese! For now, I just cut everything into long finger shapes and either lightly steam or roast veggies. She kind of gums the food off the skin or squishes it into her fingers and then sticks her fist in her mouth. I’d say about 90% of it falls out, but every meal, she’s getting better at her aim.
Especially in these first months, I’m being very careful about the quality of the food we give her. Little to no salt/sodium (their little bodies don’t process it well), little to no sugar, organic fruits and veggies, whole milk cheese***, etc. I’m also continuing to breastfeed, and make sure she has a full tummy of milk before I offer any foods. For now, I’m not worried about how much she actually eats — she gets all the nutrition she needs from me — I just want to introduce the concept of eating to her.
One of the best parts of baby solids, at least in my opinion, is that Audrey feeds herself. I lay out a lot of options at every meal and she picks what she eats, how much, etc. I don’t encourage “one more bite” or worry if food goes to waste (or in our case, to our dogs). It’s fun to watch her make faces at new tastes and try to maneuver chunks of food into her mouth.
There are a lot of conflicting opinions on how and when to feed babies solid foods (you’d be surprised at how many people gave me the side eye when I refused to start any earlier, and when I told them I was not doing jarred foods or baby cereals) but I’m very confident that this is the right plan for us. Just a week ago, there was a big hubub when even more experts came out and recommended that parents not start solids at 4 months as previously recommended: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/advice-shifts-on-feeding-baby/. I know that we’re not necessarily the norm when it comes to how we’re planning to raise Audrey, but I’m extremely concerned with setting her up with healthy habits.
I’d love to answer any questions you have about what we do or why we do it — and I’ll be updating our journey once we have more than, say, four days behind us.
*I’d planned on waiting until Audrey was at least six months old and even then, letting her guide me on when she was ready. But at a week shy of 6 months, she reached into my bowl and grabbed a handful of food — then tried to stuff it in her mouth. Since she’s able to sit up (supported forever, without support for about 10 seconds, but the high chair lets her keep a straight back), seems interested in foods and has control over bringing objects to her mouth, I thought waiting seven more days was a bit arbitrary. See http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/solids-when/.
**like with everything, I’m trying to be very flexible and figure out what works for us, especially with the added challenge of getting daycare on board with our plans.
***my next big hurdle is deciding whether or not to offer her cow’s milk to drink after a year — but for cheese, yogurt, etc., I’m fine with her having it.