At James’ 4 month appointment last week the doctor asked if he was eating fruits, vegetables and cereal yet and I said No. The newest recommendations are 6 months, when a child can sit up and begin showing an interest in food. The doctor said we should start giving him food and gave me a handout with a lot of information that included the fact that babies won’t learn to chew if they don’t eat food by 6 months. I do not agree with this since babies don’t learn to chew by eating pureed foods anyways…all they can do is suck it off a spoon. Plus, I have a bunch of other issues with all of that. Stuffing a baby’s mouth full of puree doesn’t teach him to eat by himself, he doesn’t learn to chew solids, it’s hard for him to self-regulate when he is finished and full because someone keeps shoving more in his mouth with the goal of a certain amount (a jar, a half-jar, one more spoonful etc.), and to top it off… I don’t really want to buy into the pre-made baby food mass market where some things just look kinda gross and/or weird things are mixed together. Not to mention… even though he is a baby, he is still a human being, he isn’t helpless or stupid and he should be as involved in his food as he has the capability of being (within reason of course.. it’s not like we’d just let him eat ice cream for every meal or anything).
If you think of it from an adult point of view… picture someone coming at you with something strange on a spoon. You’re not allowed to touch it, or hardly even look at it, and you have no idea what it is. They expect you to open your mouth and eat it, and then if you don’t like it and spit it out, they wipe it off your chin and shove it back in. Sounds fun huh? Now I know people have been giving pureed foods to their babies for a long time and I’m sure all babies end up totally loving at least something whether it is pears or peas or whatever…. and I have never heard of a kid not learning how to eat food so whatever method parents use their kids obviously end up eating normal food at some point! But I think for our kid I’m going to skip the store purees and let him decide what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat so that his first experiences with food are fun. His main nutrition will come from me for at least the first year anyways, and only after 6 months does he need any supplemental nutrition and even then it is minimal and he knows what he needs… if given the choice babies will self-wean themselves gradually by slowly drinking less milk and eating more solids.
That all being said… I’m a sucker and I was excited to give him foods to see if he liked them… and since he has already been around some foods a little bit, I decided to just go ahead and offer him a couple of things (even though I should have really waited until 6 months, but in the past parents were encouraged to give babies solids at 2, 3, 4 months so I figured he would be fine!). I decided I would offer him real foods mashed up a bit of course (so basically pureed but just not fancy store food) and he could play with it or squish it or eat it or do whatever he wanted with it just to explore! Then when he is 6 months we can introduce actual solids through baby-led weaning and he can actually learn to chew and be more involved in meal time here with us. 6 months is also when he will be able to eat a bit of dairy and meats so he will be able to have the meals we are having here (Except Taco Bell… we’ll hide that on him for as long as possible!)
So the first two things I actually gave him was some banana and some avocado. I gave him banana twice… I just took a piece off one I was eating and mashed it up on his high chair tray for him to explore and the avocado he just had this evening and I did the same. Most of the food was squished and smeared all over himself, the banana was especially messy! But he did get a bunch into his mouth and I did use a spoon with him a little bit. Besides letting him just mash his hands into the food I took the spoon and preloaded it a couple of times and let him decide if he wanted it in his mouth or if he just wanted to squish the food off it. At some point I need to order him a set of his own silverware that would be easier for him to grasp and direct into his own mouth. I’m not totally sure he loves banana (the very first bit in his mouth made him grimace but then he went back for more and the second time he decided to eat some again) but the avocado seemed to be a hit! And as a bonus, he got to see some new colours, smells and textures too so it’s an extra win.