I love food. I love eating it and cooking it, and I wish I were better at growing it. I want food and cooking together to be an important part of our family life, so I’m usually excited to initiate my babies into this world of food. With my first, I could hardly wait. I started giving her food as soon as I could, and she was hooked from the first taste. I welcomed the added routine to our day. This time around, I have to admit that I’ve been dreading Roland’s introduction to solid foods. My days are full, and I just don’t want to add another routine to the mix. And let’s be honest, when they start eating food, their poop starts to really stink.
I’m lucky that I’ve been able to exclusively breastfeed Roland. He’s with me almost always, so I can easily feed him on demand. We have no schedule, I nurse him when he wants, and I have no idea how much he eats. I started to realize he might be ready for more food when he started waking more frequently at night and reaching for my food, silverware and plate whenever I tried to hold him during a meal. I had been telling him that he would get his turn soon enough, and I decided his time had come when I picked up the perfect butternut squash from the farmer’s market.
It’s interesting how even in the 5 years that I have had babies, so much has changed about what is considered best practice. Do you start at 4 months or 6 months? Do you have to start with rice cereal? Do you feed your baby allergenic foods early or wait? Do you wait four days before introducing new foods or is it more important to give them many different tastes early? The “rules” seem to always be changing, and I have had a different conversation about food with my pediatrician with each of my babies. The one thing that has remained the same is that I want to make their food and feed them what we’re eating as much as I can. That way it feels like less work, and now that Roland has started eating with us, I’m remembering that it really is not an added routine as much as it is including him in the routines we are already doing.
I’ve added the highchair to our kitchen island where we eat most of our meals, and now Roland joins us for lunch. I put some food in a little baby food feeder and hand it to him. He feeds himself and can decide if he wants it or not and how much. His initial reaction was less than enthusiastic, unlike both of his sisters who wanted seconds after their first feeding. As we have just started, he’s only had squash and bananas. He’s not eating a whole lot, but he loves being included in the meal. He sits there at the end of our table looking like such a big boy, and I can’t help but think of how different the faces around that table will look in five months and in five years.