I just finished reading a terrific book called Hungry Monkey: A food loving father's quest to raise an adventurous eater. The title made me think of how I think M wants to raise our little one. I also have food on the brain since it is about time to introduce little O to solids. My mom, who is a pediatrician, has been pressuring me to start since she was four months because she thinks O is ready. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law (another pediatrician), and O's actual pediatrician say I should wait until six months so she can get the maximum benefit from breastfeeding. Ann Keppler, local baby guru, also thinks we should wait until six months. Many of her reasons are given here.
The book was an enjoyable account of the author's first few years with his daughter. He lives in Seattle, in the Capitol Hill area, so he often referenced local places, which made it even more appealing to read. Every chapter concluded with a few recipes that his daughter liked, and also gave suggestions of how little ones could help with the cooking or baking. As a new parent, it's reassuring to read about how other parents actually introduce solids and handle diet and pickiness. I know some of my friends think I'm a bit crazy to worry so much about it and that it's all just common sense. However, I don't get the same information from everyone, which makes it confusing. My husband was allergic to a lot of things as a kid, so I worry that O might be the same way. Also, I was an extremely slow and picky eater as a kid. My parents used to time me and it would often take me well over and hour to eat. Sometimes I'd get sent to the garage or outdoors to finish if it took too long. I'm not sure if this worked or I just got over being picky, but I'm a world champion at speed eating now.
I want to wait the six months, but O is definitely fascinated with watching us eat, which makes it tempting to start sooner. I bought some whole grain rice cereal, as O's pediatrician recommended, last week. (Ann Keppler is anti-rice cereal, but if we do start her on solids before six months, it seems like a good place to start.) We haven't started her on the cereal yet, despite continuous pressure from my mom to do so. I have given O a spoon to hold and suck on as she watches us eat dinner from her bumbo. I've practice giving her a bit of water from the spoon and from a glass, and she seems to enjoy that as well.
Lately, O seems to suffering from some teething pain, and has taken to furiously rubbing her pacifier, her sophie, or one of our fingers rapidly across her first tooth and gums. This is a little hard on my finger. I've also been reading Baby-led Weaning: Helping your baby to love good food, which inspired me to give O a baby carrot to hold. She held it and soon brought it up to her mouth to rub against her tooth and gums. Her little tooth was like a grater and she soon had tiny carrot shavings on her sleeve and bib. I'm not sure if she actually ate any of the carrot, but she enjoyed sucking it and rubbing her tooth and gums on it. (To make sure there was no danger of her choking on it, I only gave it to her while she was sitting upright in the bumbo and I kept an eye on her the entire time.) Eventually, the carrot got too slimey with saliva for her to hold and she kept dropping it. Does this count as her first food? I'm not sure, but she had fun holding something and gnawing on it while we ate, and we certainly enjoyed watching her.
I'm still trying to decide how important it is to start with rice cereal, or even purees. I'm not sure if I'm totally on board with baby-led weaning, but I like the idea that not everything has to be spoon fed and mushy. I am still unsure about seasoning too. Should the food be left pure and bland, or is a little salt or other flavoring okay? My husband wants to make her some jook (rice porridge), which I'm sure a lot of babies in Asia start off with. What was the first food you gave your little one?