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Solids Update (a long one)

I swear this isn’t supposed to be a baby led weaning blog.  But as it is the first week of Ben having solids, that is really the focus of our lives right now!

I have to say, Ben is doing a great job.  That first night I got a little worried that he wouldn’t be into eating or BLW.  You can read how it went here.  I know the biggest problem was that Pat and I were overeager parents ready for Ben to be thrilled with eating solid food.  Ben of course, went at his own pace.  And that is the right pace!  I feel a little bad about that, but honestly not too bad.  Of course I was excited and eager!  My hope is that Ben enjoys this process of learning about food and that he develops a life long appreciation of food.  I have to remind myself that we have plenty of time for this.  But I don’t feel bad for being excited and trying to help Ben experience something fun.

After that first night we decided to just keep plugging away as planned.  Ben had carrots again for lunch the next day, and dinner.  He did so much better!  He was in on the game plan, having experienced solids now once before.  He was able to get the carrots in his mouth pretty well.  It was all a bit messy.  We aren’t sure how much he actually swallowed.  When he was tired of this activity, he let us know and we went about our day.

Our original plan called for waiting the traditional three to four days between trying new foods.  The purpose of this is of course to find out if Ben has an allergic reactions to food.  The scientist in me knows that you only change one variable at a time.  But somehow we didn’t end up doing this.  It is just so hard to slow down once I get into a project.  I have a hard time being patient, and waiting for Ben to get to experience new foods is no exception!  I try to remind myself that he has plenty of time to try new foods.  The goal isn’t to go through them all in a month and be done. Yet somehow waiting just didn’t quite happen.  Luckily neither Pat not I have a history of food allergies to worry about.  As seen here we gave Ben some avocado on Monday night.  The carrots were good, but not super soft.  And avocado is an easy food to just cut open, slice, and serve.  It has the bonus of being one of my favorite foods too, so I was eager to see how Ben liked it.  We think his favorite part was that it was so squishy.  It was a lot messier, but also a lot of fun.

Yum, avocado

So already we had introduced two new foods within three days, not quite the plan.  Then the next day at lunch I decided to just add some banana to Ben’s tray to see how he liked it.  I was hoping he would like bananas because they are so easy to carry around.  I often have one at lunch myself, so there is nothing extra for me to do to just give Ben some of it.  Well, he liked the banana too!  It is also super squishy and fun to play with.  I enjoy it at the office better than the avocado because bananas don’t stain.  It is always important to pick your foods based on that, right? 😉  Wednesday night we boiled up some sweet potato.  At first Ben grabbed that right away, probably thinking it was carrots.  They two look a lot alike, especially boiled and cut into BLW weaning sized pieces.  You could tell from Ben’s face that he noticed they were not the same right away.  Still, they were nice and soft, so he ate a bit of them.

Finally on Thursday night we gave Ben a bit of applesauce to try.  I had made some, so it was a little chunkier than the kind one normally buys in a jar.  BLW says that babies can handle purees by either licking them off their hands, or by using a pre-loaded dipper.  The dipper can be a spoon or another food product.  We decided to give the spoon a try.  Now, Pat and I are pro BLW and are using this as our way of starting Ben on solids.  But we are not so hardcore into it that we believe Ben can never be spoon fed.  The occasional spoon feeding is not going to derail his progress, in my opinion.  Ben however, did not enjoy the spoon feeding.  Granted we didn’t push it very hard.  Pat tried a few times, and Ben’s arms flew in various defensive maneuvers to keep the spoon away.  Watching that, I am so glad we are doing BLW.  It is so much easier to just let Ben decide what is going to go in his mouth.  We managed to get a bit of applesauce into him.  He did surprisingly well with the spoon too.  He was able to get the proper end into his mouth and try some applesauce.  Then he just wanted to hold the spoon and play with it.  His dinner was pretty short though, as he just wanted to get out of his high chair.  As soon as we put on him on his ocean mat to play he was as happy as can be, allowing Pat and me to finish our dinners.

Focused on that banana

A drawback to BLW is the gagging.  It is important to note this is different than choking.  The gagging reflex on babies is further up on their tongues.  This means it is more easily triggered, but that there is a bigger distance for the food to go before choking takes place.  With spoon feeding, all the food is super soft, so it doesn’t really trigger the gag reflex.  The spoon is also placed past the reflex, so babies don’t experience as much gagging.  I know, this is a good thing.  I don’t want Ben gagging or choking.  But at some point he is going to have to learn to feed himself.  When this takes place he is going to have to figure out how far back to put food, how to move it around with his tongue, and how to chew it enough to swallow.  So basically at some point in time the risk of choking is there.  I would much rather he figure out these skills while the reflex isn’t so close to the choking zone, and while he is using softer foods, as opposed to when he is older and these safety nets aren’t as likely to be in place.

All this being said it is a little scary to do this!  There was a time where he gagged pretty hard, which was terrifying.  He got the food out and was just fine though.  I think that is the scariest part of all this, the gagging.  While Ben eats we watch him very closely, and someone is always right next to him.  We make sure to give him food that is appropriately sized and a good texture.  Some is firmer than others, but it isn’t like we are giving him a raw piece of carrot to try to choke down.  When he first gagged hard my immediate thought was to be done with this.  Purees here we come!  But he recovered quickly and beautifully.  Already in this short week he rarely gags!  Of course he is still learning how to get the food about in his mouth.  And he is still learning it is hard to eat with your fingers in your mouth.

Overall I am happy we decided to use this approach.  I am really enjoying that Ben can just start on ‘real food.’  Meal times are easier because we don’t have to be feeding Ben at the same time.  True, right now we aren’t always eating with him because we are too busy taking pictures.  In time we’ll get back to normal.  So far there aren’t any meal time battles.  His big calorie provider is still nursing, and I enjoy not having to worry about getting a set amount of food into him every day.  When Ben is done eating, he lets us know by fussing.  This is really his only way of letting us know things right now.  (We are working on baby sign language with him, but he is just starting out.)  Once he is done, his meal is over.  No big deal.  We wipe him down and he gets to go play.  As he gets older we will have to work on staying at the table longer.  There is plenty of time for that though.  Ben is only six months old.  He does a great job eating at work too.  I think it helps that he has Meo and Omi to eat with.  He loves the attention!

Are you watching me eat?

Where are we going from here?  Well, we are going to keep feeding him the foods he has already had, and introduce pears, more apples, and green beans this coming week.  I have a recipe to make oatmeal cakes, so we will try those some time soon too.  Eventually I know we have to start having breakfast.  Right now I like not having to have an additional task in the mornings though.  It will come in time.

I think this first week was great.  Pat and I are having so much fun showing Ben new foods and seeing his reactions.  I think the whole process is a great learning experience for Ben.  he is working on his motor skills.  He is working on hand eye, well mouth, coordination.  He gets to have tactile experiences with different foods.  And he is learning how to feed himself.  It’s a pretty well rounded activity.


My Happy Boy

We’re having so much fun!


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