(A fitting title for Wednesday, don’t ya think?!)
I was hoping to have a nice big post on starting solids and Baby-Led Weaning for you this week, telling you how MacKenna was loving eating solid food and things were going great. However, that is not the case.
We started MacKenna on solids 2 weeks ago, just a few days before her 6 month birthday. I had read 2 books on solids – 1 traditional (Cooking Light First Foods) and 1 non-traditional (Baby-Led Weaning). After reading both books, I decided to start Mac with BLW since I just felt it made sense. The gist of it is, you give your baby soft finger foods (such as sweet potato, avocado, or banana) and they feed themselves (the pieces are roughly 2 inches long so they are able to hold it but not too big that they would choke on it). This teaches them the chewing motion and how to move the food to the back of their mouth so they can swallow it. It also allows for baby and parents to eat as a family: you can pretty much give them the same food that you are eating for dinner (obviously, there are some restrictions to this, especially in the beginning). There is a lot less prep involved and mom + dad are actually able to eat their own food instead of having to spoon feed the baby between bites. They also claim that this makes for less picky eaters since the baby is essentially choosing what and how much they eat.
While this was the way I wanted to start Mac on solids, I was still open to the option of feeding her with a spoon. I mean, that’s the way I learned how to eat and I don’t think I was I that picky of an eater (right, Mom?). If she didn’t do well with BLW, we would spoon feed her but still give her finger foods for practice if she felt like it.
What I wasn’t prepared for was her not doing well with either option. Matt + I are huge foodies and I don’t really think either of us are that picky (yes, I am a vegetarian, but that has nothing to do with being picky). So, I just figured she would love to eat as much as we do.
Nope. Not so much. The first few times we attempted BLW, we were able to get maybe a bite or 2 out of her. Really, the first few weeks of BLW are all about learning – they don’t really expect there to be much eating going on. So, I was satisfied with her few bites of food. But, after those first few times, there wasn’t even an attempt to put food in her mouth on her own. I even tried to trick her by putting food in a mesh feeder, only for her to realize what was in it, and start swinging the feeder around like a toy.
Since BLW wasn’t working and we found out that she wasn’t gaining weight, we decided to go ahead and try feeding her cereal. I decided not to do rice cereal and start her on ground-up oatmeal instead. I made it a little bit thicker than what you would normally start with so she would still have to go through the chewing motion. We fed her at the table with us during our dinner last Thursday and managed to get a few bites in her, although more came out of her mouth than went in.
After that one time, all H. E. Double hockey sticks, broke loose. She would cry when we tried to feed her with the spoon but get mad when we took the spoon away. She even started screaming when we put her in the high chair (luckily, that only lasted a day). We would give her the oatmeal and also put a few slices of banana on her tray, but she just wouldn’t have it. I finally got the most food in her on Monday night after putting a banana in the mesh feeder and letting her suck on it that way.
All this solid food drama brought me back to my first few weeks as a parent and learning how to breastfeed. I remember being in tears in the hospital, trying to get MacKenna to latch and being completely unsuccessful. I had nurses helping me every time I fed her while I was in the hospital, but I was on my own after we came home. I dreaded feeding time those first few weeks. There were times it would take me an hour just to feed her because every time I would get her to latch, she would fall off a minute later. So very frustrating.
But, I kept on trying. My aunt had called me while I was in the hospital – someone I consider a pro at breastfeeding – and told me to give it 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, it would be a piece of cake. Luckily, right around 4 weeks, breastfeeding became easily. I actually started to look forward to spending that time with MacKenna and now I simply can’t imagine that time being taken away from me.
Breastfeeding had a learning curve to it. It started off slow and was extremely difficult, but eventually it go easier and easier, and I finally got over the hump and now it’s a breeze. I think that learning solid foods has that same learning curve. Right now, 2 weeks in, Mac just doesn’t get it yet. She’s still learning. We’re at the bottom of the hill trying to make it up until we eventually get to the other side. It’s going to take time and massive amounts of patience, but I know eventually the struggling will be a thing of the past.
Note: We cut the banana smaller now after she bit off a huge chunk and I freaked out that she was going to choke on it. This was just a little too big for her to handle.
She’s continuing to learn more and more every time she has the chance to practice. Until we get over the hump where it becomes a breeze, I’m working on practicing patience and trusting that she will eventually be the amazing eater I hope she will become!