Sunday, December 12, 2010

She Requested Steak and Potatoes

Motherhood is funny. Just when you think you have a plan set, your child throws you for a loop and it all changes.

I was so paranoid about breastfeeding and pumping enough milk for my daughter while I'm away at work. My pediatrician said at four months old my daughter could start rice cereal, so my goal was to start letting her chow down on her four month birthday.

Then, I started reading some articles and recommendations (from organizations like AAP, and WHO) for babies to wait until they're six months to start solids. My understanding of this is because your baby's stomach is fully developed, less likely to develop allergies and ready for solids sometime between 4-6 months but to be safe (and since all babies develop differently), it's better just to wait until 6 months.

Surprisingly I have been able to keep up with pumping, and my frozen stash hasn't had to take too much of a hit. So at four months I made a goal to continue exclusively breastfeeding until six months. After all, this is recommended, and it was going so well, why change it up? This became my new BIG HUGE breastfeeding goal. I doubted I'd last three months, much less six. But even if I dried up I'd probably have enough frozen to get us through the last few weeks and by George, I was going to do it if it killed me!

Famous last words.

Around four and a half months my daughter started acting funny around food. Others may call it "showing interest." I tried to ignore it.

I ignored her reaching for my bowl of oatmeal every morning, and the fact that she'd lean toward me and open her mouth when a spoon came her direction. But one afternoon, when I wasn't quick enough she grabbed a tater tot off my plate, put it in her mouth and started chewing. In a panic I pulled it out of her mouth and sadly admitted two things. 1. I need to start eating better and 2. She's probably ready for solids.

To be sure I read a few articles about the signs of being ready.
Older than four months- Check
Sitting up unsupported- A little wobbly but- Check
Able to let us know when she's full by turning away from a bottle or unlatching- Check
Loss of tongue-thrust-reflex-based on how she momentarily chowed down on the tater tot I'd have to say- Check
Showing interest in food- Double Check

So I had come to the realization that my daughter is probably ready for solids. But was I ready to give in to her readiness? I was planning to skip rice cereal all together, and had Christmas as her date set to have her first "meal". Oh yes, with squash, pictures, music, it would be a big deal. Plus, breastfeeding was going so well, and I wasn't ready to say she was no longer exclusively breastfed. This was my badge of pride. My "I DID IT" sign I could have in my back pocket the rest of my life, pulling it out on the rare occasion of the awkward question "how long did you breastfeed?" I played out the scenario in my mind. "A year" I'd tell them, and be sure to add in the unnecessary additive "six months exclusively."

I read more in my baby food book about first foods for babies and decided an organic brown rice cereal would be a good choice if we were going to start early. I want to stay gluten-free with her for a year, and brown rice would be a healthy start. Plus I can mix in breast milk and she'd be familiar with the taste.

I found a brand I liked and was ok with trying, and prepared to loose my exclusive breastfeeding virginity.
I thought it would be a little sad but it wasn't in the least. Just like I thought, she was ready. She leaned in and opened wide from the start and surprisingly, more of it made it in her mouth then on her bib. After her first few bites she was ready to chow down; so much so, when it was all over, she licked the bowl.
Of course I got it all on video.
Lil' J loved her yummy rice and milk. The next night she didn't miss one bite and was mad when it was all gone.
I can't wait until Christmas when she can have some REAL food. I already have her bib picked out, but I'm not sure which food it will be. Maybe avocado, sweet potato or squash. I'm leaning towards a vegetable and sticking with different veggies a little while before introducing fruit (besides avocado). I'm still torn between baby-led weaning and pureeing, so I may make a soft finger-food version for her to pick up, and a puree version as well and just see which she prefers. I imagine we'll do a mix of both until she moves all the way to feeding herself.

What was your baby's first food?

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