Molly took a great leap towards independence this week! She started to eat real food for the first time. Well if you can call Farex mixed with breast milk to form a gloopy mess real food. But it’s a step on the road to growing up and it’s the first real milestone we’ve reached in her short life so it’s quite exciting.
This is one of the things that’s changed since I had Birdy. At that time they were recommending not starting solids until 6 months. That was because it was hoped that by introducing food a little later it might reduce the number of allergies and intolerances children develop. But it didn’t make any difference. In fact the number of allergies continued to increase and now the norm seems to be starting solids at 4 months again. My paediatrician and GP both suggested starting at 4 months. But you don’t have to go by the book. The classic signs that your baby is ready to start eating are
1) that they start to become interested in food, maybe even swiping at your chocolate biscuit,
2) they get more hungry and don’t seem satisfied after their milk feeds and
3) they start opening their mouth when you offer them the spoon.
In some ways, I feel like there’s no need to rush into starting solids because it’s just one more job to do. You’ve still got to give them just as many milk feeds and then you’re adding the solid food in between. When Birdy started solids I remember being quite overwhelmed by the constant cooking and mashing and pureeing, not to mention the fact that you now have to carry little containers of pureed broccoli and beans everywhere you go. But I remember one of my friends reminding me that it’s really only a few short months of pureeing and then you can start to give them toasted soldiers and mashed banana and other easy foods. We’ve just started at four months because our paediatrician suggested it’d be a good way to fatten Molly up. But for the first few weeks it’s really just practice, they don’t actually get much nutrition out of it.
So I’ve started giving her just a little bit of rice cereal once a day. At first she just looked annoyed. It was like she was saying, “What is this weird gluggy stuff in my mouth and how did it get there?” I’m pretty sure more ended up on the bib than in her mouth. I’d forgotten how messy it is trying to feed a baby. They don’t exactly come to the table straight out of finishing school. But she did open her mouth so I think she was at least interested to try it. The problem is she can’t really sit up yet, so she gets a little uncomfortable in her high chair, poor thing. It’s also makes it even messier because she ends up flopping forward a little. Seeing that gluggy mess bursting forth out of her little mouth brought back memories of all the food that gets mashed into the floor with a baby. There’s that lovely stage where they’re just learning that if they drop something they can make it fall to the ground and it disappears. It’s like they think it’s some kind of magic trick. And that goes on for about six months at least. I’m looking forward to that. Not that our 70s style mock tile lino could look any worse than it does already.
On the plus side, the nicest thing about starting solids is that it gives the other members of the family a chance to get involved with feeding the baby. When babies are breastfed it all comes down to Mum and there isn’t too much that anybody else can do for the baby. Now that we’re giving Molly a daily bottle of expressed milk and a serve of rice cereal it gives Dad and Birdy a chance to get in on the act. Birdy came home from school and was really excited about giving Molly her second ever bowl of rice cereal. And it was nice for me to just sit back and watch that relationship of trust developing. But by the end of that first meal, Molly looked so tired. It was like it was all too much. The sensory overload of the milk and the rice cereal and the spoon in her mouth for the first time. Even something as simple as a little bowl of rice cereal is a big adventure for a bubba!
What do you remember about starting solids? Were there any foods you found to be a winner in those early days? What advice do you have about making the transition easier for everybody?