Thursday, August 02, 2007

Embrace the Mess

As it is World Breastfeeding Week and also the week that we have started offering Fifi solids, I will leave you with a little bit of information about Solids and the Breastfed Baby. Unless you are actively trying to wean your baby off the breast, this link gives you some really good info on how to start your baby on solids, when to start, how much milk they should still be taking, etc. Very briefly, the two things I find most important are (1) always offer the breast first when introducing solids so that (2) the majority of their diet is breastmilk, as it should be for the first 12 months (I think it's something like breastmilk should still be 75% of their diet at a year old).

So, yes, we have started. It's great fun, actually, watching her try to eat food. It's kinda hard not to go crazy, especially since I really don't want to face early weaning with her. We are *attempting* baby led weaning, which is basically allowing your baby to decide what and how much they want to eat. This means forgoing the purees and just handing them finger foods. Once a baby is around 6 months and is showing signs of readiness (sitting up, putting things in mouth, all the things the link above describes) there is very little concern over choking, so puree purists, don't worry! She's also old enough for us not to have to worry too much about allergenic foods either, so we've just dived right in with offering her stuff.

The first night, yesterday, I was a bit nervous. I'd decided on starting out with pear for a couple of reasons - pears are sweet like breastmilk so not too drastic a difference and they are supposedly good for digestion. However, even though I'm totally sold on the baby led weaning thing, I was still nervous about giving her anything too hard so I poached the pear first and skinned it. Mistake number one. Then I sliced it into what I thought were 'chip-shaped' slices. Mistake number two. I then put them on a plate and gave them over.

She wasn't the slightest bit interested.

Every daggum thing in the universe has gone straight into her mouth, until that pear. She looked everywhere but at her plate. According to BLW, you shouldn't really help them along, since solids are to begin with mostly for fun and play and learning. They will supposedly eat when they are ready. So we impatiently waited, video camera rolling, while Fifi tried to reach for her toy monkey (to put in her mouth, I'm sure). Finally I gave in an held the pear slice to her mouth. She chomped down on it and ate off a big piece. She made faces but opened her mouth for more. I tried to give the pear to her, but due to being poached and sliced, it was far too slimy and kept slipping out of her mouth. She played around with the plate and the swished the slices around it but couldn't grasp any to put to her mouth.

She did lick the plate though. Pear slices all over the floor, of course.

So I decided to try banana instead, my back up plan. I'd been told by another BLW mum that the trick with banana is to half-peel it, cut off the peels and give it to them that way, so that there is a handle for them to grasp hold of. Well, I handed it to Fifi that way, and naturally she tried to eat the wrong end. Then once I'd righted it for her, she broke the edible part off. I then handed the broken banana piece to her, and she of course mashed it into her bib.

That was last night.

Today, I bought some baby rice cakes. I wouldn't have bothered with the baby ones except I'm really paranoid about salt and I know baby foods aren't allowed to add salt. I gave her a rice cake at lunch so she'd have something to eat with me and she devoured it. Finally. I figured out the right consistency of Fifi food! I should've known. It only makes sense that if I'm going to give it to her to eat herself she needs to be able to hold it...

Then tonight I made mango smoothies for me and Scott, and I put a little bit into a cup for Fifi, with a few chunks. I'm trying (trying is the key word as I'm not very creative yet) to let her experiment with different textures. Though so far my textures have been predominantly slime. She of course had no idea how to get the smoothie into her mouth so I broke one of the rules (can you tell I have no idea what I'm doing? Can you tell this solid thing is throwing me for a bit of a loop and I'm getting a bit stressed? I mean, me? Caring about rules? There should be no rules!) and spoonfed some to her. She was mortified. Don't think mango is her thing. However, mango smoothie all over her tray is DEFINITELY her thing.

So, it's been fun. One thing I'm having a bit of trouble with, however, is dealing with the mess. I know they say 'embrace the mess' or otherwise you'll go through the roof (and baby will get the impression that mealtimes are stressful) but I'm having a hard time with it nonetheless. The first night I made the mistake of not putting anything underneath her. (Does this sound like me? Maybe I just know myself, but seriously, this 6 month mark really sneaked up on me and I am not at all prepared for this. I mean, I can't believe I wasn't so well-read-up-on the solid food thing that I didn't even have anything underneath her!) Then tonight I did put her in her walker which has a food tray, but that was still an enormous mess, and even with a blanket under her (I'm going to have to start buying newspapers so I can use that), I couldn't believe how far she could throw a mango chunk. But once it was all over, I did enjoy plunking her into the bath with me while Scott cleaned up the living room. We do have a highchair, which we'll use next time, but since we don't have a dining table, it's going to be very not fun standing up while she eats to keep an eye on her. Oh how I long for a bigger house. Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

One last thing I noted about tonight's mango experience. As of late, Fifi has worked out a nice little bedtime routine. After playtime, I give her a bath, brush her teeth and nurse her and she goes straight to sleep. It's been working great for the past few weeks. So I was a bit surprised when she refused to settle down for her milk, even though she was clearly tired and hungry. Then it dawned on me. A giant 'Duh' cloud hung over my head as I realised I'd fed her MANGO half an hour before bedtime. Sure, I, an adult, can have a mango smoothie before bed, but a few spoonfuls of mango for her would be the equivalent of something like ten chocolate bars for me. So another one of my many lessons I've learned over the past two days - keep the sugars, even if they are natural, to a minimum and only around non sleeping times.

Later this week? Hummous. (Gotta start getting to the veggies eventually. And hummous is, you know, like chickpea or something.)

Fifi's First Foods from superlori and Vimeo.
(The sound is a bit skewed on the clip, Scott might've had his finger over the mic or something.)

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