Early on, I was totally calling bull on that "it goes fast" thing everyone said. I felt like my life was dragging on because as I've shared, motherhood was a brutally difficult adjustment for me. Well, as it turns out "they" were right. It seems as if time is flying by now and Mary Clare changes more each day. She is just 5 months old in a few days, yet she seems like she's so grown up. It's crazy and exciting that it's almost time for her to try solid food. I love food haha, I especially love to cook for and share food with those I love. So I'm really looking forward to starting this journey with my little one.
As I do, I'm gathering as much information as possible and as a family we are deciding what makes sense for us. I'm reaching out to my most trusted friends and family, reading articles and books and of course, speaking to the pediatrician.
I waffled on whether to even mention this because it's still unfinished business for me. However, I often talk about this being a space where I am open. So I'm gonna walk the walk...I've struggled with body image and weight for much of my life. It continues to be a work in progress. If there is one thing I don't want Mary Clare to inherit from me, it's that. My main goal for introducing solids is to foster a healthy relationship with food. I don't want food to be "a thing" for her. Food is meant to be enjoyed and shared but I want her to know that food is food, nothing more. So my main goal is to try to not put too much energy or undue focus around it. If you are hungry and you want to eat, okay. If you aren't interested in eating right now, that's okay too.
This again, is an idea or a goal. Even now, when she doesn't finish her bottle, I find myself saying things like, "oh no, she didn't eat enough," or "she's not going to sleep well." Yet in reality, she has always known what she needs and if ever I try to force-feed her, it ends the same way. She screams and spits the bottle out. Why should I question her awareness around hunger? If only we could all be so sure of when we had had enough to eat!
Additionally, the idea of the family meal is very important to us. Growing up, Rob and I both ate dinner with our families most nights. We both really value this tradition. The family meal isn't just a tradition though, the mental and physical benefits are grounded in research. With that in mind, another goal of ours is to have our family eat generally the same meal for dinner. Of course, this likely won't come into play for a few years but still I want to have it in mind. I plan to be making one meal for everyone. I'm willing to bet lots of moms of toddlers are laughing at me on this and I totally get it. I know it's tough and I don't expect it will be easy but I am going to try!
A friend of mine, Maggie, has a beautifully curated blog dedicated to nourishing food and clean living, Warm & Rosy. From the start, her sweet daughter Rose, "eats what we eat." Maggie offers great, simple advice on fostering this way of eating at home. It seems we can try make foods friendly for everyone. Maggie shared with me that she often mashed or pureed whatever she was making for dinner and offered that to Rose. She said there wasn't much separate making of baby purees. Check out her blog, it is lovely!
I plan to introduce various organic whole foods, over time as appropriate and as advised by the doctor. I plan to season food with mild spices, herbs and olive oil. I have read, you can give babies seasoned food to possibly help develop a more adventurous eater. Who knows but according to my pediatrician, it won't harm baby so why not try? I think I will try to mash or puree whatever we are eating and also introduce organic store-bought purees. Brands such as Plum Organics or Happy Baby seem readily available and of high quality.
We took some time to consider and decide whether to introduce baby oatmeal. I went back and forth on the daily for a while. Our pediatrician recommends baby oatmeal and advises against rice cereal. According to my doc, iron fortified oatmeal is necessary in order to provide the baby with iron. However, I'd read that little bellies aren't able to digest grains properly until 10 months of age. So I wasn't sure. After more discussion, the doctor explained that Mary Clare could run the risk of becoming anemic without the oatmeal. She said we could skip it but I would be tasked with ensuring she was getting enough iron elsewhere. She also told me that all the doctors in the practice gave their babies oatmeal and consider it completely safe. So after much consideration and much discussion with the doctor, we will be doing oatmeal, fruits and veg for the first month and then introducing eggs, meat, nuts, beans and dairy. Moms, please let me know your thoughts on oatmeal and baby grains. I am curious to know what you think! I think we will be going with this brand, what have you used?
So, why no rice cereal? Evidently, rice cereal has traces of arsenic in it. Then again, my entire generation plus many babies now have rice cereal and are perfectly fine. I'm not criticizing anyone who chooses rice cereal. As I always say, do what is right for your family. I'm simply sharing the information I have been given.
There are so many different options when it comes to gear for getting started with solids. When pregnant, I wanted to buy the prettiest, least obnoxious looking things for baby. I learned quickly that what matters most is my baby's happiness and health. So I pretty much don't care what something looks like now, as long as Mary Clare is happy, we are happy! These are the things I purchased based on reviews and recommendations from other new moms.
I skimmed "Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods." I mostly read the last section about introducing solids. Some of it was very useful. I will likely go back to this book when we grow our family again!
Boon two sided spoons - one side is stainless steel and the other is silicone coated, you can let your baby choose which side they prefer in their mouth. From what I have read, the safest materials are stainless steel, BPA free silicone and bamboo.
Silicone placement and bowl - these won't be used right away, they are more for when MC begins to feed herself. I've gotten lots of good feedback about these mats from other moms and I look forward to giving them a whirl.
I bought a bunch of different bibs. This OXO Tot bib is easily rolled up making it portable. This Baby Bjorn bib is a classic. I have heard these Bumpkins bibs are awesome as well. They make one with sleeves but that seems to be a bit much if you ask me? We shall see which bib reigns supreme. I promise to write an update with all our favorites once we have tried it all out.
So while I have ideas and opinions about this, I'm trying really hard not to put any rules or expectations on the whole thing. That has gotten me into trouble in the past. I want to let Mary Clare lead the way and tell me when she's ready. And by lead the way, I do not mean baby lead weaning, that's not for me. It's cool if it feels right for you, it's just not my bag baby. I'm trying to keep in mind that right now eating solids is about practice and exploration. As I have learned, it is not their main form of nutrition so I will try not to stress if she doesn't like something or isn't eating much at first.
Most of all, I plan to enjoy this time as I watch Mary Clare experience solids for the first time and develop her own favorite foods.
DISCLAIMER: None of my writing should be considered medical advice. Consult your pediatrician before introducing food to your child.