Did you know when you have a baby you have to think about how they’ll start eating ‘real’ foods? I didn’t!
We breastfed and for a good long while he was cool with just that, so I was cool. But this kid is crazy- he was growing and causing chaos and getting hungry.
maybe if he sat still he wouldn’t be so hungry!
So it was upon me to think about how to start edging him into the world of grown up calorie sources and there were all these options out there of approaches people take…
Ok, keep in mind as you read I in no way intend to cast any aspersions on the choices all you other wonderful, loving-your-kids-with-all-you-got parents out there.
This is just a catalogue of my own journey as I figured out what should we do? Here goes friends:
The quintessential post-1950s American approach was for mamas and papas to offer their little soon-to-be-eaters baby oatmeal mixed into their baby bottles as early as 3-4 months of age. Reading around I found this, a pretty strong case in my view of why their tummies just aren’t ready at that age. At this point though, we were creeping up to 7 months, so his system was ready. Still hungry, ma!
(You can read more about delayed solids at Kellymom.)
But for baby oatmeal? Well, then I found this. Considering my goal of giving him the best chance at health and a love of healthy foods, baby oatmeal seemed an unlikely candidate for his first food after reading that study. I mean, baby oatmeal as a first food doesn’t doom anyone to a lifetime of cheeseburgers, that’s absurd, but it didn’t seem to provide the best launch pad when compared to other approaches.
For me it was important that my son not only was fed nutritional foods, but that he would grow to love them and choose them for himself, and it would seem his first encounter with solid foods would have some level of influence on that, everything’s so darn formative at that age!
I read this by Dr.Sears (I know, I know- get your eyes facing forward again please!). He suggests that, ‘hey! Veggies are what your little one needs!’ Vegetables you say? Pretty sure those are healthy!
I had this book of baby puree recipes and was ready with the Magic Bullet to be a home made baby food making diva, whipping up carrot-mango cocktails and making motorboat sounds as I coaxed that vitamin-full spoonful down his gullet. Dr.Sears suggests just get something mushy and offering it on your finger tip, as an alternative.
Whoa, hold on. No purées (or, at least, optional). No fancy spoons. No motorboat impressions. Basically you just offer your kids mushy versions of what you’re eating and let them have at it.
Sounds crazy cuz those little babes ain’t gots teeths! Well they do have mighty chomping gummy jaws, and if you’ve ever been chomped on, you’ll know those guys can figure out this chewing thing.
And I love it. For loads of reasons!
It eliminates the power struggle that can be born of a regimented, systematic approach to first foods. Like you’re not so hung up on what you, the web, the book, the doc, or Aunt Viv said should happen. It instead encourages you to pay really close attention to your kid. Are they handling this food? Do they like it? Are they not hungry? What’s this experience like for them?
That kindof mindfulness demonstrates a lot of respect for your kid and where they’re at in life- and a kid who feels respected, who sees that modeled and feels that personally is pretty likely gonna turn around and do the same.
But back to food. Basically, you’re never making eating about enforcing your kid to follow your preset agenda. Who ever eats like that in real life? With this approach, he could be part of the meal time, where we shared our enjoyment of our meals.
This approach let’s them get to know their food. They play with it! They touch it. Squish it. Squeeze it. Swipe it. Smell it. Smear it. And yeah, taste it. Oh food, glorious food!
Seems kinda silly to give this approach any other name than: eating. The method is, give food to your kid. Done.
Since we were breastfeeding, I knew Munch was getting most of what his body needed. This was just his chance to get acquainted with broccoli. Make friends. Play.
And play they say is how kids learn.
So basically he kindof figured it all out 🙂
Guys, this approach is fun.
Sure, sometimes that gag reflex is pretty strong. Pretty much every time though he was not actually choking- just kinda gagging something out for whatever reason.
We kept the foods soft, and never did he choke. Plus, we knew he was showing ALL the signs of readiness.
Sure, there were times we’d use The Spoon, like when we didn’t want the monstrous mess of a baby wielding mushy quinoa and bean stew. Or when I wanted him to eat stat.
But usually we just let it happen. To this day he feeds himself. When I start getting geared up and like he has to eat this, well, that’s usually when he shuts down and refuses to eat despite being hungry. Oh toddlers, mini teenagers.
This kid eats broccoli, kale, lentils, chicken, eggs, beans, mango, berries, etc. etc.
Of course, he still loves pizza, fries, chocolate and gummy bears.
To him though, it’s all just good food, that he eats at different times. I’ll do a post soon on an awesome article about how the categories of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods actually backfires and discourages kids from choosing good-for-them-options.
Munchie just loves it all 🙂
That’s a good thing, right?
If you’re a parent, how did you, or do you plan to, approach solids? What has worked for your family?
Have you ever asked your mum or dad what they did for you? Do you think the approach they took to your weaning on to solids affected your relationship with food?
Let me know in the comments!