one thing i love about being somewhat anonymous supermomish, is that when i say what i'm about to say i know i can bask in the joy of it - and not fear the judgement that will surely come along with it. so, confession time first.
supermomish confession #529
my son is 4 months and 2 weeks old....about 2 days shy of 4.5 months. and he eats solids.
i have a fellow mommy friend who got lashings about giving her 5 month old 1 tablespoon of rice cereal at night. even though, she was exhibiting all the signs of being ready. i thought that was ridiculous, because my son has a monster appetite (see breastfeeding FAIL), and his doctor mentioned starting solids right at 4 months if he seemed physically ready for it. she thought he'd thoroughly enjoy it, and it would probably help him with his ravenous hunger. just before he rounded the 4 month corner i did some reading about the subject. he was supposed to have his 4 month check up right on his 4 month birthday, but due to some issues at the office we had to push it back. i was kinda bummed...i was all reved up about starting this new phase of parenting and had fully intended to start cereal that weekend. my husband suggested that we do it anyway - even though it seems like we should wait for the doctor's permission....we're his parents, right? so we did. we tried it in complete slop form and he LOVED it! we started giving him 1 extremely watery tablespoon a night and he was so excited about this moment every day, it was hard to wonder if we were doing the right thing - it seemed so obvious we were.
his appointment was a few days later, and the doctor gave us her usual "how to introduce solids" spiel. my son impressed her SO much with his muscle strength and ability (he falls into the "active" temperament category....if he stood up and walked tomorrow i don't think i would be shocked). she kept saying how strong he was, and that everything about him screamed that he was ready for solids. i told her that by the second night of cereal the tongue trust reflex was completely MIA. it was as if he enjoyed the experience so much, he adjusted to it instantly. she encouraged us to keep going, gradually increasing both the amount and thickness until he was eating 4 tablespoons at night, and it was the consistency of loose oatmeal. this process took him about 2 weeks, which is what she suggested. when he was up to that, she told us to start a second meal, preferably at breakfast, giving him only a small serving of cereal - but a larger serving of orange veggie. (and i'm sure, if you're a mom, you know how the process goes from there so i refuse to bore you with it)
that very day, extremely excited by this new adventure, i researched as much as i could - about the best veggie to start with, which ones should be pushed back further because of nitrates, the best way to prepare them (because i've had every intention of making it myself, so far so good), which ones should be purchased organic, and i even made a spreadsheet to help me keep track of my supplies so i know when to make more - as well as my son's reaction to each food. yes, completely obsessive compulsive and nerdly of me, i know.
i decided to go with sweet potatoes. i made them wednesday, froze them over night, stored them on thursday, and this morning was the big taste test. in short, he LOVED them! when i put the first bite in his mouth, he completely stopped moving (believe me when i say, not many things cause this reaction in him). he had a look on his face as though he was thinking about this new taste and texture - he was completely enthralled. when he finally mashed it around his mouth a bit and swallowed, his eyes lit up in delight. he scarfed the entire thing down (i made the cubes in 2 tablespoon quantities, and had paired it with only 1 tablespoon of cereal), and was demanding more when he finished. success!
so okay, there's multiple supermom vs supermomish debates lurking in this situation. A) when the right time to start solids is, B) homemade vs jar, C) order of presented food & means of preparation. i've touched on them all slightly but let me break it down.
Issue A. I'm not going to beat this one down because I've covered it pretty well already. But, I just want to say that regardless of what other people think, this feels right for my baby. He loves it. He hasn't had any negative reactions to anything so far. We know a couple with a son who was born 10 days before our son, and his doctor won't let his parents (which is a laugh in itself) even attempt solids yet. Their doctor says it's pointless. Every doctor is entitled to their own opinion, I just feel lucky that our ped had a son sooo similar in preferences and temperament to ours, that she "gets it", and lets it known that we can experiment however we want until we find what works for him. And even if you still think he's too young, I promise you....if you knew my son in person, you would think he's older than he is. He's generally on par developmentally, but physically speaking he's quite advanced. And I'm not saying that to brag, at all - believe me, being pregnant with a Michael Phelps wanna be is no picnic! - I'm just letting you know how ready he is.
Issue B. For once, I'm choosing the more difficult method. (That's not to say I've always chosen things based on level of ease alone!!) I see nothing wrong with jar feeding if that's what you chose to do - in fact, I will probably do it on trips home to see the family (we live far from our hometown right now, boo). It's just too difficult to try and get cubes of food home with us, frozen & eaten within the safe window of time, not to mention having to make some when we get there and blah blah blah. While we're home, however....I'm making all of my son's food. It's really pretty simple. I'm doing it for a few reasons - yes, to avoid unnecessary sugars, salt, pesticides - and who knooows what food comes in contact with in factories (mouse poo??). I know this is all kinds of paranoid but I've seen one too many a jar of peanut butter laced with something nasty to trust mass-made food for my baby. I feel like I should add - I am not "crunchy" (that's probably fairly obvious by this point...), nor am I an all organic health nut (though I am going organic for some things), but I just....want to know exactly what's going in my baby's body, at least to the best of my ability. So, as long as I'm a SAHM, why not make his food, ya know?
Issue C. The least controversial, but still worth looking into. I was kind of obsessive about this - charting out the order I want to present the foods to him, and making sure they matched up with his age at the time. I wanted higher-nitrate foods to be presented last - closest to 6 months when they are virtually zero danger. I also looked into steaming vs microwaving vs baking in order to cook the food before pureeing it. If you're interested, I chose steaming. The case was made that microwaving keeps the most liquid in the food, resulting in the least loss of nutrients. But, if you microwave in plastic with plastic wrap (as suggested) you're also keeping all the chemicals and synthetic crap in those things with the food. So I passed. Baking requires no use of water, but I thought...it usually enhances the flavors of things, and that may concentrate flavors too much for a baby's first attempt at veggies. Maybe later in life, but not now. So I went with steaming...using a steamer basket, little water, and adding the water back to the food while pureeing. I feel the most confident about this method.
if you can't tell, i'm pretty excited about embarking on the solid food adventure. it's just so tiring when people try to rain on your parade. when will people realize that every mom knows her own baby better than you do - even if research shows your method is "best"?