Beginning the food process with Owen has truly been one of the most stressful aspects of parenting so far and I know it's only just the beginning. Maybe it's because food and everything that's involved in it is so unbelievably important to us, or maybe it's because there are such strong opinions on baby-led-weaning vs. Spoon feeding, but sorting out our personal method was challenging. Zack and I both enjoy cooking, socializing over meals, trying new foods, and look at our meals as something so much more than simply nourishment. It's a huge part of who we are as a couple and what we imagine will be a huge part of who we are as a family.
When we had our four month doctors appointment for Owen we got approval to start purees. Because I was so excited to get started I ran to the store and bought some organic purees, and cereal for Owen. I made a post on instagram about starting with purees that weekend and the opinions on the subject came out of the woodwork, opinions I honestly knew very little about. It made us pause, research, reflect, and really think about wether it was best to start at four months when everything online was suggesting to wait until six months. We were both spoon fed as kids and honestly didn't really know there was another way to start foods.
I would like to pause and make it clear, i am no expert on the subject, but I thought hey, this overwhelmed me and maybe, just maybe, there are some other parents out there who want to dig their heads into the sand over this topic. If you're one of those people - you are not alone. I want to track Owen's progress with foods, our progress as parents, and how our meals come together as a family. There are likely to be mistakes, possibly some I've made already, but I want to take on this challenge of sharing something so personal to us as a family because if it weren't for friends who were open about their experiences I might be feeling that much more alone on the subject.
We decided to wait until six months and introduced solids this past week. We are leaning primarily towards the baby led weaning approach. Our schedule is slightly unique as a family considering Owen comes to work with me three to four days a week, and this will play a large role in shaping our meals. There will come a point, out of convenience, that I'm sure Owen will experiment with pureed pouches. I also refuse to be naive to the fact that Owen may not take to solids, at which point we will have to re-evaluate our method, but so far so good. This has been our experience for the first week.
We started with bananas - bring on the sugar/sweet tooth criticism now. We gave him banana, not a brownie and a can of Coca-Cola so take a deep breath with me. How did we choose bananas? We went for bagels - a typical weekend ritual for Zack and I, and they sell bananas there. It just made sense. I was personally confused on the introduction of foods at six months and thought you had to take the same precautions with allergies that you do at four months where you introduce the same food for three consecutive days to make sure there is not a poor reaction. So Owen had banana for breakfast for three days in a row before I was chatting with a friend and realized that this was not a wrong, but a cautious approach. At six months it is okay to introduce a new food every day. Luckily we realized this early on and moved on to a new food each day the rest of the week.
- Day one we started with banana. I was incredibly nervous and mashed it up, slightly defeating the whole purpose of the baby led weaning because it required Owen to hold a spoon. So day two and three we gave him a larger chunk of banana that he could hold and easily gnaw on without our assistance and this is really where I feel our introduction to foods began. He loved the banana. He brought it to his mouth no problem, as he does with almost anything we have put in front of him, and seemed to enjoy the taste enough that it held his interest.
- Day four I gave him avocado, peeled and sliced into spear like shapes. It was messy, similar to banana, but he really liked it and seemed to get a decent amount down.
- Day five I boiled baby carrots and placed a couple on his tray. They were perfect size for him to hold and gnaw on, but because they have a firmer texture he wasn't seeming to be ingesting anything so I cut them smaller which was a mistake. He then was able to tear them apart easily with his gums, but I felt as though this created a choking hazard and stopped him. I think it's important to remember they aren't actually eating a ton at this point which can be difficult to loose sight of when you're preparing food for someone. Sure they are absorbing some nutrients, but Owen is really just becoming familiar with new tastes, hand-eye coordination, chewing, and eventually swallowing something other than breastmilk.
- Day six we introduced corn. I cut it from the cob and boiled it. This was fun to see because the cornels are small enough that it doesn't present as much of a choking hazard and Owen is able to practice his pincer grip with his thumb and forefinger, although he did more grasping and swiping with his whole hand and then brought it to his mouth. I gave him carrots again with corn to start to differentiate his meals. After zero bad reactions I let him try a second food later in the day when we were out to coffee. Maybe this isn't suggested, but I felt good about it. I got an apple that we shared. I took a few bites out of it and then handed it over to Owen. He gnawed on it and sucked out a lot of the juice. I think this has been his favorite so far.
- Day seven I choose to not introduce anything new since I had given him two new foods the day before, but started to give two separate meals. So for breakfast he had corn and carrots, and for lunch he had apples and bananas. Clearly not the most balanced meals, but as we add more foods to his diet we will be able to clearly have more of a variety.
- Day eight was exciting because it was the first meal we had as a family where we were able to simply give Owen what we were eating for breakfast, or most of what we were eating. Before we officially started with foods we had let him try potatoes so we knew there weren't any allergies there. This particular morning we gave him boiled potatoes, boiled red bell peppers (his new item of the day), and apples. The boiled potatoes ended up being softer than we had planned so we broke them in to pea sized pieces to prevent choking. We quartered the red pepper - removing all seeds, slightly boiled it, and removed the skin. While we boiled it, my research is suggesting to roast them which makes sense because they ended up being a little softer than I would have preferred. He mostly just sucked on the red peppers and didn't actually swallow anything. I'm writing this after breakfast, but before lunch so I will pause. We have lots of left overs from breakfast so we will most likely combine those items with some of the other items Owen has tried this week. Side note: aside from the first day we gave Owen apples, every other time I have given him 2" wedges so that he can easily pick them up and bring to his mouth without my help, but I have to say, he seemed to like the whole apple better.
I doubt I will continue to go into this much detail each week, but I felt this was important for me, for us, and hopefully can provide some comfort to anyone else who felt as overwhelmed as I did at the beginning of this process. My goal here is not to give advice, but just to share our experience. I ordered this BLW book this week and began reading it this morning. I'm a couple chapters in and I already feel reassured that we are doing our best and what seems to be right to raise Owen as an adventurous and healthy eater. I am also using oh baby nutrition as a resource for shopping lists and meal prep ideas. I will report back as we get deeper into the process.