A Relaxed Approach to Starting Solid Foods
by Jeri CarrEither lying in our arms or sitting in his chair, our toddler has been part of family mealtime since he was a newborn. Early on I nursed him while I, my husband, and our pre-schooler ate. Then he began wanting to sit in our laps and watch us eat. At about five months he began intently watching us eat, but he was still content just watching.
Finally, at about six months--since he started getting really squirmy and kept trying to grab the food off our plates--I put him in his own seat and gave him a spoon to chew on. He loved it! The spoon kept him satisfied for about a month, and when he was seven months and a week old, he had his first solid food.
While usually happy sitting at the table with us and chewing on a spoon, cup, toy, etc., that morning he started fussing during breakfast. I wanted to have a good chance to eat my meal, so I thought, "Hmmmmm. Maybe he'd like some Cheerios (tm)." So I put some on the table in front of him, and he enjoyed feeling them and trying to pick them up.
That day he didn't really understand how it all worked--it seemed like he tried to nurse the Cheerio (tm) that he held between his fingers--and most of them went on the floor, but when one got in him mouth, he seemed so happy about it! And then out it came. But that was okay. He was learning, and from then he got better and better at picking up and gumming and swallowing the Cheerios (tm).
Within a week he had enthusiastically knawed on a chicken leg bone (with the meat taken off) and had finger-fed himself some small bits of banana and pear.
For the banana, at first I cut it in tiny pieces and put it on the table in front of him; soon I just gave him a hunk of banana and let him squash it himself (it was a soft banana). A neat idea that came in handy at restaurants was to peel a banana and scrape off some banana with a spoon and feed it to him that way.
For the pear (it was a pear from a can of chunky fruit in fruit juice) I cut it in tiny pieces and then squashed them with a fork.
Within a few months, some of his other favorite foods became rice cakes, bits of mango, applesauce (yes, he fed himself!), and noodles.
Our son loves to feed himself, and uses a spoon pretty well, but it does get quite messy sometimes. For a while there, he had to take a couple baths a day. Now I try to plan it so that usually his messiest meal is supper, and then afterwards he can take a nighttime bath.
I made sure that breastmilk continued to be his main source of food until around his first birthday, but from the very beginning my son enjoyed his food very much, and we have always had fun watching him eat it.
This article was first published on Suite101.com.
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