it is amazing how something as simple as eating (or in this case feeding) can be so complicated, stress-inducing, messy, scary, fun, exciting, laughter-producing, etc. depending on the situation, the child and society's expectations. just like sleeping through the night, "is he a good eater?" seems to be right up there in the "charged" questions to ask new(ish) parents. it has taken a fair amount of self-confidence, conversations with other parents and lots of reading of books and websites to make me feel really GOOD about the decisions that we have made in regard to feeding our little one. and it was really only today when chatting with a good friend that i realized, as long as we give it our BEST attempt to introduce a variety of foods, our little one's will thrive.
i must say, we have been fairly lucky with our little man's appetite. he is open to pretty much whatever we give him (except plain yogurt...woah, that was funny and heartbreaking all at once). we did run into a bit of a snafu long before food was even on the menu when we realized that he has a CRAZY reaction to oil (olive, canola, grapeseed, etc). if it touches his skin, he breaks out in hives. doh. luckily, we have found that butter works for him just fine and is fairly interchangeable for cooking with (and is oh, so delicish!). fingers are still crossed that he grows out of that one...or so long italian food...or eating out at restaurants for him. :(
as with many of the decisions that we have made in raising nolan, we chose to go against the grain a bit (hehe...pun intended) when it came to "starting solids". we did not start right at six months and we did not start with rice cereal. as six months approached, he was just not interested. no smacking the lips or chewing action. no reaching for our food. he seemed quite content to nurse the day away. so, we waited.
around seven months we purchased some baby spoons and let him play with them while sitting in his high chair. we gave him an empty sippy (sans nipple) to play with too. he was completely and totally entertained by both. around seven and half months, we decided to dive in. we chose avocado as our first food. it's high in good fats, potassium, fiber, protein and vitamins b, e and k. i once read (and of course i don't remember where) that avocado is one of the most perfect foods and that a person could survive on that alone! (i don't know about that, but it is lovely). it has a nice smooth, creamy consistency without having to cook it; just a quick run through the food mill and in the beginning a quick mix with a little breast milk. and best of all, it's super yummy! he loved it.
near the start, we did choose to supplement his fruits and veggies with organic brown rice cereal, but soon replaced it with oatmeal (much tastier). it is so interesting to me how pressured i felt to feed nolan rice cereal. for the iron...he needs it for the iron is all i kept hearing. but, feeding him something that had been processed and then pumped back up with vitamins and minerals seemed odd to me. we chose to go the route of breast milk, broccoli, meat, oatmeal, etc. for his iron...with a little bit of rice cereal just in case. :) he had his iron checked at his nine month well-baby visit to the pediatrician and it was great.
he fed himself right from the start, which made me feel like he was ready...like we weren't forcing anything on him. we scooped the food and handed him the spoon or set it down on the tray and he picked it up and took care of it from there. we started with just one meal a day, but quickly moved up to two and then three (small portions though), mostly because we wanted him to feel like a participant in meal times. since anthony works so much, we make sure to have breakfast and dinner (in between his shifts) together every day. hopefully this will be a family tradition forever! :)
we followed the ol' one new food every three days rule for quite a while. it definitely seemed like a long, arduous process, but better safe than sorry, right? but now at eleven months we've all but abandoned that and it is a food free-for-all! we've tried, not necessarily in this order, avocado, yams, carrots, butternut squash, acorn squash, banana, broccoli, cauliflower, peas (unsuccessful pureeing), green beans, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa (liked it for one day then ended up with a stomach bug and no longer liked it...will have to try again), cantaloupe, honeydew melon, grapes, apples, pears, watermelon (iffy...was a little mushy. will try again during appropriate watermelon season), chicken, egg yolk, beef, chicken stock, lentils, butter, celery, cinnamon, ginger, puffy cheerio-like crunchy things, zucchini, spinach, carrots, cucumber (our newest!), plain yogurt (total failure...maybe with some fresh fruit added)...i think that sums it up so far. this week's big exciting plan is an orange pepper! still trying to decide whether to cook it in butter or steam it...we'll see. finger foods are awesome. i'm pretty sure watching him pick food up with his little chubby fingers and put it in his mouth is for some reason one of the cutest things on earth. having him take bites of larger things as i hold them still blows my mind. i'm absolutely amazed at how quickly he is growing up, changing and becoming a little PERSON!! :)
one thing is for sure...as fun and exciting as all this is...it is certainly messy! :) this blog posting actually stemmed from a good laugh i had when reading a cooking for baby book. here is the picture that made me laugh...
so many things crack me up about this picture. yes, absolutely i would feed my baby for the first time in her sunday best...light colored sweater dress complete with white tights and possibly hand knit booties...with no bib...on my off white couch...and white carpet...with my hair down. yup. exactly how it happened here. or...not...we did it nearly naked, in a high chair, on resilient flooring...whatever. :) here are a few pics of nolan's first food experience!
here are some other good ones from later days...
that's what happens when your baby is sleepy while eating oatmeal and he pulls on his hair...
sometimes finger food is just too slippery for fingers and you have to figure out an alternate technique.