We had tried to follow the dictates of Baby-Led Solids, outlined here on this excellent Dutch site (picture above is from there). We haven't been entirely successful (or, perhaps, just not entirely obedient) for a few reasons, although I still believe in the philosophy of baby-led solids.
First of all, you're supposed to give your baby large pieces of food that they can easily hold and then gnaw around. What's in their fist is supposed to be the "handle." Mikko thinks handles are delicious, apparently, because he shoves the whole thing in his mouth, regardless of size. So we've had to resort to pea-sized bites that he can pick up in his pincer grasp, the way conventional baby-feeding advice articles recommend. I know the difference between gagging and choking, and Mikko was one second away from the Heimlich maneuver at least three times, so pea-size it is for now.
Secondly, this kid has a gag reflex the size of Utah and has trouble swallowing anything but breastmilk. This really isn't an issue at this point, although it does get us comments from the relatives. Everyone wants to feed the baby, and everyone wants to see the baby eat. He's over a year old now, so everyone figures he should be scarfing down solids by now. Well, he's not.
Kellymom.com recommends 25 percent solids at 12 months and 75 percent breastmilk, and we're probably close enough to that. People used to formula-fed babies having rice cereal shoved in starting at 6 months (or earlier) are aghast that he still nurses so much.
I think it's amusing that our larger-than-average baby can be accused of under- and overeating at the same time. When he was born, everyone was worried that he must have high glucose (he didn't) and then that he didn't seem hungry enough to breastfeed (they were wrong, because he's a nursing champ). That first week they worried that he was losing too much weight, and then they worried that he was gaining weight so quickly his first six months. Now that he's been holding his (high) weight steady for the past several months, it's solids -- they think it's strange that he's not hungrier for solids than he is, but they worry that his appetite for breastfeeding is too high.
Here's my theory: He's doing what's just right for him and his body.
I have to keep reminding myself and hinting to others that we can't take adult perspectives and hangups about weight and food and apply them to babies. Mikko isn't overweight, and he's not overeating or undereating. There's a distinction between being "larger than average" and being "fat" in the way we as adults understand the latter term. If a healthy baby is allowed to choose his breastfeeding and solids for himself, there's no way he's what we would call fat, even though I'll be the first to admit Mikko's a roly-poly little guy.
But, back to our issues with baby-led solids -- Sam & I were having problems finding solids on our plates that were appropriate and tempting. I'll just say it -- we eat crappy food. I have resolved to change this so that Mikko stands a chance at growing up without the food hangups alluded to above, but that's a post for another day. I wanted to offer him tastes of vegetables and fruits that he could eat, and most of the veggies on our plates were raw, which were hard for him to handle.
I had sworn I would never feed him baby food, and certainly never buy those costly little jars instead of at the very least making my own mashes.
Oh, well. Safeway Organics were on sale, so I grabbed a variety. Turns out, the kid likes prunes -- who knew!
He still barely makes a dent in the spoonful we give him at mealtimes, but he's enjoying playing with silverware and making a mess, and it gives us a few seconds to wolf down our (pruneless) meal.
It came in really handy a week or so after we bought them when Mikko had surgery and needed pain medicine. Here's where his aversion to solids, drinking from a cup, and swallowing really bit us in the butt, because now he needed pain medicine, and the pharmacist couldn't understand our insistence that a suppository form would be much easier than the sugary flavored syrups they'd sent us off with. Sigh. Red dye everywhere, screaming baby, thrashing limbs -- it seemed like the medicating was worse than the pain.
Until we mixed his meds with purées. Ah, see, they have their purpose! Suddenly, he was eating fruity-tasting, sweetened, slightly reddened prunes, butternut squash, "lentil dinner," applesauce, and, yes, sherbet. Hey, ice cream is the one food where he'll actually let us wield the spoon and feed him!
Despite all this heavy feeding and the tiny little jars, he had eaten maybe a quarter of each when they all went bad. You're supposed to use them up within three days after opening. We pushed that deadline, and how.
So, here's my little tip o' the day, one I'd read before and seen nifty overpriced gadgets to dedicate to the task, but it bears passing on for those like us who appreciate variety in our baby food jars but find that having more than one opened at a time just means that more than one will spoil in short order.
- Empty out an ice cube tray. Seriously, just a regular one will do, but wouldn't a rubber ducky one be awesome?
- Save the ice cubes for chilling summer drinks. (Hot where you are? It's been stifling here.)
- Spoon the contents of the little jars into the ice cube tray.
- Freeze it.
- Next feeding time, pop out a little frozen cube of mashed bananas or chicken-and-rice surprise, and defrost in the microwave.
- If you need the tray back, you can pop them all out and store them in a bag or freezer-proof container. But it also works well to pop just one hideous ice cube at a time.
- Add pain medicine to taste. Just joking on that one. Unless you really do need to force feed your baby some meds. In that case, go to town mixing it on in, and hope your baby feels better soon. Ours does.