This is the thing. Right around three months Bean started being interested in our food. I didn’t give her food though. I tried some distraction things at first. Like giving her a spoon to play with while we were eating.
When I asked about this on a message board that I occasionally look to for parenting advice I was first told that I should absolutely not even think about even giving her tastes until she was six months. I was also told I would know that she was ready for food when she sat up on her own, grabbed at our food, liked to watch us eat, when she started teething and when the tongue-thrust reflex went away.
Bean met all of these factors about two weeks ago. She isn’t six months old.
About this time I started giving her little tastes of my oatmeal which she loved. And then last week I delved head on into making my own rice cereal and giving her that. I just steamed some brown rice and blended it in my food processor with some breast milk. She was a little put off by the texture at first, so I didn’t push it on her. I would just try a spoonful here and there. By Friday she was eating about 2-3 tablespoonfuls.
She didn’t have any over the weekend because I didn’t feel like bringing the stuff with us to Ruth’s house. I was also still feeling really unsure about my decision. I had made a big batch of the cereal and frozen almost all of it. After this weekend I was just planning on leaving it in the freezer and then trying again in a few weeks when she hit the “proper” age.
Well then today I read the section on infant feeding and nutrition in The Baby Book from the Sears Parenting Library. Based on what I read I felt like I was doing the right thing last week in following Bean’s cues, rather than a timetable. Basically, EVERY baby is different and that is just the way it is.
By the way, I totally recommend this book to any new parents out there. It has so much useful information in it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered something and then been able to find out exactly what I was looking for in this book. They even have dosing charts by weight in the back for common over the counter medications.
In the section on introducing solids there is a chart of when you can introduce certain foods by month and so much other helpful advice.
Here are some of my favorite tidbits:
By her own experience, this wise mother discovered a basic principle of introducing solid foods — feed babies according to their own developmental skills rather than a preset calendar or clock. Babies’ appetites and feeding skills are as individual as their temperaments. Let’s feed them that way.
Consider solid food as an addition to, not a subsitute for, breast milk or formula.
Remember, your initial goal is to introduce baby to the new taste and touch of solids, not to stuff baby. Gradually vary the texture and amount to fit the eating skills and appetite of your baby. Some like solids of thinner consistency and want a larger amount; some do better with thicker solids and smaller amounts. Your baby may take a whole jar one day, but only a teaspoon the next.
Offer solids at the time of the day when your baby seems hungriest, bored, or when you both need a change of pace. Choose a time of the day that is most convenient for you, since a little mess is part of the feeding game.
Controlled studies have shown, however, that infants who are fed solids before bedtime do not sleep through the night any sooner than infants who do not get the before-bed stuffing.
I included that last quote in there because I have been told SO many times that if I either feed Bean rice cereal before bed or give her formula she will sleep through the night. Ha! So there it’s not true all you advice givers out there.
The book even encouraged letting your baby make a mess and explore the food with his/her hands. I just feel like I have such a better perspective on the solids thing after reading that section. I was reinspired to try again with Bean today and just let her have fun with it instead of worrying about her making a mess of her clothes or not eating a certain amount. When I took the “rules” off it was just so much more fun! I didn’t feel like I was forcing her to like it or anything.
I stripped her down to her diaper. Put a little of the rice cereal on the tray for her to play with. I even let her grab onto the spoon and food container while I was feeding her. She had a blast and actually seemed to enjoy the rice cereal more than ever.
Sure, it was a mess, but with my perspective change and the pressure off, it was a fun mess and not a hassle.