Mar. 8, 2012

Raising a Foodie: At Six Months

Like many aspects of parenting, I began with one set of intentions regarding feeding our son and have modified as reality has sunk in. A friend recently divulged that she had hoped to raise a foodie baby, but has since found out that her little one is less keen on variety than she'd expected. I imagined the same and have met a similar fate (a baby more keen on breast milk than solids), but with a few modifications I can happily say that Thomas has taken to solids more easily than seemed would be the case when we first began a few weeks ago.

To prepare to begin solids, we gathered with the following gear:
  • A beautiful Stokke Tripp Trapp that we received as a present - About a week before we began infant cereal, we started sitting Thomas in his high chair. This way he could watch us eat more closely and begin to be socialized into eating meals, before he actually had to do it himself. We found he responded positively to sitting with us at the table with this type of high chair, as opposed to sitting away from the table in a high chair with its own tray. There's a great round up of high chairs here.
  • Nylon bibs, including a fun Dr. Seuss patterned one that was a gift - Being able to wipe down the bibs after each meal has been very handy.
  • A place mat with suction cups to protect our dining room table that we set out in front of Thomas' high chair.
If you're making your own baby food, which I recommend, I suggest stocking your kitchen with the following:
  • A submersion blender - This makes pureed foods the smoothest in my experience, which is perfect for starting off. Later on your can try a regular blender or food processor to make your food.
  • A fine mesh sieve - I push thicker purees through this to remove any particles that might make the food harder to swallow for my six month old. It helps remove any seeds or pulp that might remain after pureeing.
  • A set of little spoons and bowls
  • Ice cube trays to freeze pureed foods
  • Mason jars to thaw your puree cubes
  • A fun lunch bag to tote baby's eating supplies when out and about (I love ours)
  • A steamer basket or sieve that fits inside your regular pots
Before starting, I read a booklet given to me by my public health nurse regarding feeding your six to twelve month old. I supplemented this information with a fantastic book - Cooking for Baby.

Here's a brief overview of what's worked for us:
  • We started with organic rice cereal mixed with water for breakfast, which didn't go over well, so I tried mixing it with breast milk, which was much preferred. However, pumping an ounce or two of fresh breast milk for each meal didn't seem feasible for me in the long run, so we soon moved on to a barley cereal that was designed to be mixed with water only (meaning it's a little creamier than the organic type). This was my first concession - I had wanted my son to eat only organic cereals, and here we were a few days in reaching for the mainstream variety. This was more successful, but we were still only managing a few small spoonfuls per feeding each morning.
  • So I decided to skip cereals and breakfast all together and we switched to an early suppertime meal instead (normally about 4:30 or 5:00). Here's why: Thomas isn't a great sleeper and he nurses about every 2 hours all night long, so he's not really all that hungry in the morning. He goes much longer in the day without feeding (every 3.5 to 4 hours) so introducing a meal an hour and a half or two hours after his mid-afternoon nursing has been more effective. I always follow supper with a nursing afterwards.
  • At six and a half months, and now that supper time is a consistent 1.5 - 2.5 tbsps of food (before adding liquid to thin), we've moved back to breakfast and have had more success. I've noticed that Thomas is still waking at night, but now can be calmed and put back to sleep without nursing occasionally (simply saying 'shhhhhh' and rubbing his belly for a minute or two has started to work).
  • I plan to increase the size of breakfast (now 1/2 a tbsp) to 1 tbsp by seven months, and will then work on introducing "lunch", which I am hoping will be consistent by the end of eight months. So basically, I've set a goal of consistently having one meal per day at six months, two meals per day at seven and three meals per day at eight. I'll begin some baby led weaning then too.
In terms of the order of introducing foods, this is what we've done -- rice cereal, barley cereal, avocado, sweet potato, zucchini, butternut squash, chicken, pears and peas. I'll be adding lentils and apples next. If a food was disliked, I've thinned it out and each time this has improved Thomas' desire for it. We started with 1 tbsp of cereal and reduced to 1/2 tbsp for breakfast, and feed 1 -2 ice cube sized portions of food for supper.

I'd love to hear about your experiences in introducing solid food to your little ones. xo

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