Starting Solids.

So we finally did it.  After putting it off for the past two months, we finally broke out the baby spoons and let our little guy start exploring new tastes and textures.  Even though I’ve been told that babies can start solids now between 4 and 6 months, I really found myself leaning closer and closer to the 6 month mark.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed (if possible) until six months, and it felt best to me to follow that suggestion.  Many moms and babies start earlier than that, and some start even later!  One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far as a parent is that there is no room for judgment of others’ choices – every baby and family is so different.  I love hearing what other families choose, even when it differs from what works for us.

Cullen will hit that six month milestone next week (gah!), and since he’s been showing all the signs of being ready, I knew it was time.  We started with an organic baby oatmeal – just 1 tablespoon mixed with breastmilk.  The verdict?

He absolutely loved it!  I’m not sure if he actually liked the taste or not, but there is no question that he liked the experience. 

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He’s obviously very new at this, so there is a lot still coming out of his mouth and onto his bib, but I’m impressed at how much he seems to like so far.

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I mentioned this over on Babble too, but I’m finding the whole solid food process to be somewhat overwhelming.  I think because we are such health nuts ourselves, and we take our food choices very seriously, starting a good base of nutrition for Cullen feels really…important. 

We haven’t made any definitive decisions going forward, and for now our plan is to try to approach solid food casually and without too many rules.  We do plan to raise him as a vegetarian, and I’ll write more about that as our journey into solids continues and develops.

For now, I’m planning to do a mix of purees as well as baby-led weaning (where he can feed himself small bites of solid food) over the next few months.  Although he seems pretty happy to have our help…

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I still have so much to learn about this process.  We’re starting off with basic oatmeal cereal, and from there I think we’ll start doing some simple fruits and veggies.  In the meantime, I’m trying to read up and learn when to increase the number of feedings, variety of foods, and how to make sure he gets the right balance of nutrients (although his primary nutrition will still come from breastmilk until he’s at least one year old). 

Casey and I take our own health and nutrition pretty seriously, and we’re always reading and researching to make sure we’re making the decisions that makes us feel most comfortable – both ethically and physically.  Now that Cullen is depending on us to make those choices for him, the gravity of that weighs heavily on my mind. 

It’s easy to get worked up about all things parenting.  And so like I do with many other parenting decisions, I’m doing my best to just relax and enjoy it (which is, of course, easier said than done!).  I think part of why this feels overwhelming to me is that I sort of feel like I failed at the whole bottle thing.  I wasn’t consistent enough with it from the beginning, and it backfired in my face.  Five months later, I still can’t get him to drink from one.  And so with starting solids, I want to make sure we’re consistent and committed to it now that we’ve started.

I have no doubt that I’m totally overcomplicating the process, and thinking about it way too much (it’s what I do!).  But I have so many questions that are still unanswered – When do I increase feedings?  How do I know how much to feed him?  When do we add 2nd and 3rd feedings?  Do I feed solids before or after nursing?  I’m planning to ask my pediatrician all of these at next week’s appointment, and make decisions based on his advice.

One thing is for sure – while the decisions themselves may feel daunting, the process sure is fun.  I love watching Cullen make goofy faces while he eats, and seeing how excited he gets every time the bowl comes near.  Sometimes a little too excited…

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I’m waiting until after we move to get a high chair and start making our own baby food, but once we do, I’m excited to share Cullen’s adventures into the wonderful world of delicious food. 

It’s sort of hard to believe he’s crawling across the room, no longer wants to be held very often, and is now eating off a spoon!  My baby is growing up way too fast…

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So we’re just enjoying the moments as they come and go.  As much as I loved him as a tiny newborn, I’m finding that each new stage and milestone makes our lives that much more fun and exciting.

For other parenting posts, check out the parenting page.  For more posts on starting solids, visit Babble!