There is no question – we are a foodie family. Casey and I both love food. Eating it, making it, shopping for it, and talking about it. Even so, I wanted to wait six months before really starting Cullen on any sort of regular meals. I figure he has his whole life to eat with us, and such a short window to be exclusively breastfed.
Last month, we started him on just a small bit of oatmeal cereal. It seemed like we were off to a good start. About a week after we started, we had a scary incident that involved him throwing up in his sleep. I brushed it off as an upset stomach. Until the same thing happened again – right after his oatmeal breakfast.
I called his pediatrician who was surprised to hear he was having an allergic reaction to oatmeal (one of the lowest allergen foods, which is why it’s highly recommended as a starter for babies). He told me to lay off the oatmeal and go ahead with fruits and veggies. But the oatmeal reaction scared me, and I pulled back on solids for a few weeks.
Cullen is now well over six months now, so it was time to dive back in. I’m happy to say that so far he hasn’t had any more reactions, and for the most part he is loving his meals!
Feeding Cullen real food has gone a little differently than I had originally expected. I read and researched Baby-Led Weaning, a method of feeding babies chunks of softened solid food, rather than purees. The general idea is that this improves fine motor skills and teaches babies to feed themselves directly, rather than being spoon fed by a parent.
We tried a few different things, none of which worked right away. I set some baby puffs (soft cereal pieces) out on the tray for him, and while he was definitely interested in picking them up and handling them, he was not happy about it once they reached his mouth.
There was a lot of gagging and eye bulging the minute the puffs hit his tongue. This boy has a very sensitive gag reflex! He had no interested in swallowing whatsoever. Casey tried letting Cullen bite on his (solid) banana, and Cullen ended up biting off a huge hunk and then scaring himself by almost choking.
So last week we decided to try some purees instead, and see how things went. We’ll continue to offer bites of solid food, but I wanted him to experience tastes and textures as well from purees. I had read that it was better to start with veggies before fruits, so that they don’t reject the veggies down the road. I wasn’t sure what Cullen would like, but I thought squash seemed like a good neutral place to start.
Apparently, I was wrong.
Squash was NOT a hit, and Cullen acted like we were spoon-feeding him battery acid. Gagging, spitting, and all sorts of other drama. So the squash got shelved for now (we’ll try again in a few days), and I brought out the sweet stuff – pears.
Which brings me to another thing that has been different than I originally planned…
So far, I’ve been feeding him some jarred baby food. I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen steaming, mashing, and freezing food only to find that Cullen hated it. So my plan is to buy all natural and organic jarred food for a bit, while he gets used to new flavors and textures. Once he’s been exposed to a variety, I’ll start making it myself. But for now, the jarred stuff is just as good and much much easier.
I think a lot of my initial hesitation with starting solids was not understanding how to make it a consistent part of our daily routine. Now that we are finally moved and settled into our new place, I’m finding routine and scheduling to be much easier.
Every morning after nursing, a clean diaper, an outfit change, and a little playing on the floor – Cullen and I head to the dining room to have breakfast. Casey talks to us while he gets ready for work, and I eat my cereal while spooning Cullen some fruit. Bananas and pears have both been hits!
And then later in the evening – around 5pm-ish, we do another round in the high chair – this time with veggies. He opens his mouth big and wide, and takes eating very seriously. I fear he may have inherited my sense of portion control. For the boy that never stops smiling, he is all business in the high chair.
So far we’re having fun with it, and I love watching him react to new flavors and tastes. My (foolish) hope was also that perhaps a little food in the belly would help him sleep a little longer at night.
Unfortunately, his third tooth coming in is throwing a wrench in my plan. We are back to waking up 2 and 3 times a night these days – no fun. Hoping it comes in soon and the poor little guy gets a little relief! Until then, I’ll just continue to be really tired and slightly cranky. Nothing new, really. Even on the sleepiest mornings, having breakfast with my foodie baby is a great way to start the day.