Wednesday, July 21, 2010

food, glorious food

Which foods, when, and how is always a hot topic in the parent circles, so I'll share what we did with Bina and why.

There's strong evidence for the benefits of delaying solids until at least 6 months. Yet there may be strong interest on the part of your little one to eat your hummus sandwich; or you're nervous that it's post-6 months and the baby shows more interest in eating dirt than applesauce - what's a parent to do?

To delay solids, we started giving Bina a bamboo spoon or her own bowl at the table when we were eating... then we gave her non-digestable foods - ie whole uncooked carrot, kale, celery (also good for teething). Next we gave barely digestible foods like red pepper slices, cucumber sticks; at 7 months (sitting, had 2 teeth) we gave lightly steamed broccoli (big stalk with handle), artichokes (surprisingly successful - the leaves offer a lot of food!), sweet potato (not pureed), and avocado (a quarter of it, in its skin, so she had something to hold onto). Babies have a hard time reaching the food inside their fist so anything that they can hold but sticks up above the fist is ideal. This is known as "baby led introduction to solids" or "baby led weaning" which has been fabulous for us - no purees, no spoon feeding, letting babies explore with supervision.
and a fun blog about this:

I'm trying to get comfortable with giving Bina table foods now, at 9 months, so I let her stick her hand in most things i eat lately, and she at least gets the experience of joining in with me. But I have to admit salt and anything processed still leaves me cold - her palate is still so new; she can appreciate flavors of foods without additional seasonings... why devirginize her taste buds so quickly?? High fructose corn syrup and candy will be knocking down our door before I know it. Her diet is still almost exclusively breastmilk, veggies and fruits.

So why not fish or bread? In the first full year of life, the baby's primary nutrition is breastmilk or formula - any other eating plays an educational, explorative roll more than a nutritive one. So I figure I'm going to wait on processed foods or other animal products for a bit. And why not rice cereal, commonly touted as the first food because it is iron-fortified? This may make more sense for formula-fed babies than breastfed babies. So if your baby is showing no interest in food, take it as a gift from the heavens and wait to get yourself covered in muck until they loose the tongue thrust reflex and can sit upright.

What about allergies and food order? Or if you just can't shake the need to put your baby in a high chair and give them purees?
is a great website with suggestions for first foods, recipes, and allergen advice.

This is such a bigger issue than what your yoga teacher tells you to feed your baby (or yourself). Food is love. Food is politics. Food is culture, it is body image, it is joy, it is health, it is art. Babies may want food early, but some don't. Some just like sticking everything in their mouths. Some do want food early, but it's for the social interest to do what we are doing. So draw from your own traditions, interests, and your baby's unique cues.

What's your favorite unique first food for babies? Post below:


  1. What if my baby (almost 11 an 1/2 months) shows no interest in food? And although she has a lot of teeth for her age (6 of them) she gags even with soft foods. She feels as if she chokes with anything a little bit firmer, therefore giving her apples, broccoli, watermelon or anything a bit more solid other than puree is not even an option. So the so called finger foods is ruled out. As a matter of fact every time I experimented with finger foods she just plays with it. Occasionally she has shown interest in our food of which I do let her partake from it. I have not introduced meat/fish or chicken yet and sugar will hopefully be out of her diet altogether.

  2. For the first year of life, only breastilk or formula are required - so I wouldn't worry! I know you're hitting the 1 year mark soon, but some babies don't show much interest even after a year and early in the first year it's still appropriate for them to only dabble (according to la leche league and others). Considering the gag potential, some argue the purees have an even greater gag potential because babies learn to slurp them back like milk (or some parents put slurpable foods in bottles which also presents a choking hazard) whereas they learn chewing with more solid food. It makes sense to me that some babies show no interest in food when it's always been spooned to them - if we make eating a chore for our babies, they're less inclined to seek it out themselves, or to be intrinsically motivated to eat. I did see you said you try other things too, which is great. An important thing to get comfortable with if you do the baby led approach is that you have to let them gag and spit back out things as they're learning even though you can't let them choke. It's the difference between gagging (a good gag reflex) and true choking (lack of air). It may seem too scary to learn the difference, so go at your own pace. But remember none of us probably ate so well when we first tried! They have to learn to eat just like learning to crawl, walk, and talk.


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