Monday, June 27, 2016

food adventures begin

Charlie sits down for his first meal.
Now that we've hit six months, we had the green light to start Charlie on solids. Per usual, he was more than ready, and I was the one dragging my feet. I'm thankful we've been able to establish a good nursing routine, and especially now that he is an efficient eater, it's pretty effortless. Solids, on the other hand, involve a lot more effort- hence my dread. You need a high chair, bibs, placemat/plate, utensils, cup, food, wet wipes/paper towels and lots and lots of stamina. It takes patience to plan meals, patience to prepare or buy food, patience to sit there while baby eats and patience to deal with the mess...oh, the mess.

But alas, the kid can't nurse forever so thus we began introducing solid foods. We are trying to go with the baby led weaning approach. It's just a fancy way of saying that we are letting Charlie feed himself. Basically, you skip over purees and traditional baby food and let baby eat what you eat (within reason, of course).

Charlie joins in family meals along with us. So far, we just do 1 meal a day with him - usually dinner and sometimes we even skip that if circumstances don't allow for it. Eventually we'll work up to three regular meals. I'm enjoying the hands off approach because we all eat together instead of us having to eat before or after feeding Charlie.

I liked this idea as a natural extension of breastfeeding. The baby gets to take the lead in deciding what and how much to eat. And really, since breastmilk is still his main source of nutrition for his first year of life, solids are just icing on the cake at this point. In these early weeks/months, he'll largely play with the food as he learns to pick up, gnaw on, chew and swallow. It's already reduced my stress because I don't have to worry about whether or not he is getting enough to eat or if he finished that whole jar of baby food.

Enjoying a ripe peach
As an added bonus, it's hilarious to watch. He has no trouble getting food to his mouth, and even sans teeth, he often manages to bite off chunks. He hasn't quite gotten the hang of chewing yet so he usually spits out the chunks or attempts to swallow them whole. Luckily, babies have an active gag reflux that is located more forward in their mouths to prevent them from choking until they get the hang of eating. But even in just a few days, he's already improving.

We've found that it works well to give him spears of soft foods (cucumbers, bananas, and watermelon are great for this) that he can more easily grip. But we also give him whatever we are eating with slight modifications. So far this week, he's been offered rice, sweet potatoes, steak, meatballs, carrots, snap peas, zucchini, pineapple, catfish, bell pepper, and more. Sometimes he just plays the food, other times he gnaws on it, and sometimes it disappears so I assume it's been consumed! We are also working on helping him use a cup. He usually just ends up knocking it over or throwing it on the floor, but it's good practice for the future.

It's all trial and error, and it's an adventure for sure. Not everything has made it to his mouth, but so far, nothing has been outright rejected. He makes virtually the same face no matter the food so it's impossible to say if he likes or doesn't like anything yet. And for your viewing pleasure, here is Charlie in action vs. a cucumber.


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