What no one told us about starting solid foods
The day Jayson turned 6 months, my husband Chuck and I were so excited to puree up a teeny handful of peas and try our hand at the whole starting solid foods thing. Jayson had hit all his big milestones right on time and we felt like eating solid foods would be no different.
At the time, we were under the now very silly impression that we would be making all our own baby food. We each had a role: Chuck was going to pick up Jayson from daycare, I would stop by our grocery store and pick up fresh, Organic peas. We’d meet back at the house, puree, and Jayson would eat!
Well, you know how plans go. Chuck got held up in a meeting and I wandered around the produce area looking for fresh peas for 10 minutes before deciding that the frozen peas I ate all through childhood would do just fine (there goes that whole everything must be organic idea).
By the time the three of us made it home, Jayson was starving and fussy. I was half grateful because I felt like we would have a pretty good shot at getting him to eat this strange green puree we had created. I smelled and tasted it and couldn’t help but make a little face. This definitely wasn’t my idea of a gourmet meal.
Then came the big moment: iPhone video recording and brand new baby spoon in hand, we scooped up a tiny bit of pea on the edge of a spoon and realized WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE DOING.
How much solid can a baby eat at a time? Are you supposed to start with peas? What happens if he’s allergic to peas? Can you be allergic to peas? Is there BPA in this spoon?
After a bit more googling, we realized there was not a ton of guidance around this moment and, by this point, it was too late to call our east coast in-laws for some much needed advice. We were running out of time (Jayson was now hysterical) and we decided to just go for it.
Long story short, we put that tiny bit of pea in Jayson’s mouth (mid-cry), waited in silence, then started laughing hysterically when he immediately spit it out and made a face that screamed “what on earth are you feeding me” and “why are you doing this to me.” If you’ve introduced solids, I think you know what face I’m talking about.
We tried for a couple more bites, but Jayson wasn’t having it. Eventually, we gave up on our dream night of starting solid foods and opted for the normal meal of breastmilk. We laughed a lot about how we built up this one moment where Jayson was going to start solid foods and love them. Instead, he spit up a gross green puree in our faces. Since the pea incident, we’ve had plenty more moments where we realized we needed to let go of what was supposed to happen and just go with the flow. WAY easier said than done, of course, but leads to a lot less stress in the end.
Now that Jayson is almost 9 months, we’ve started to feel like we have a good grip on what he does and does not like eating. By the way, on another attempt at the infamous pea puree, Jayson absolutely loved it. Peas have since become a regular staple in our house.
Looking back, here’s what we wished we had known about new food introduction:
The face is OK
When you feed your little one a new food for the first time, it is highly likely they will make a crazy face. It makes sense when you think about it; it must be pretty strange to experience new flavors, textures, and smells for the first time EVER. Just know that all the faces, spitting out food, crying, whatever is totally normal. That leads me into my second point…
If at first you don’t succeed…
What they say is true: keep trying. It took us several tries to get Jayson to eat some of the foods he now gets the most excited about. This was made easier by the fact that our pediatrician recommended introducing each new food for at least two days to monitor for any reactions. By the way, in regards to our “can you be allergic to peas” question the answer is yes, but reactions are rare at 6 months since the immune system is not fully developed.
It’s a balancing act
Once we got on a roll with introducing new foods, we realized that Jayson was really constipated. We hadn’t been thinking about the effect that all these new foods (especially really binding foods like banana) would have on his little digestive system. We learned the importance and difficulty of balancing foods that can cause constipation, like banana, and foods that can cause diarrhea, like prunes. You’ll figure out a balance that works for your little one.
Just buy baby food pouches
Yes, the illusion of us pureeing our own organic baby foods was beautiful. But, as two working parents, it just wasn’t going to happen. There are so many different pouches available to help you introduce all kinds of foods. Make your life easier and just use them.
You (might) finally sleep at night
When we started feeding Jayson a small helping of solid foods at night, he was full for way longer and could usually sleep all the way through the night. That’s something we hadn’t known about starting solids and definitely an amazing silver lining. It’s not that starting solid foods was hard, it was just the first thing we had to do that the baby could just be like “no.” We definitely appreciated the extra sleep.
Contributed by: Sheryl H.