In the annals of food-dom, the epicurean plight of the neophyte eater has authored its own sad little chapter.
Long gone are the days of mashed potatoes and gravy, bananas and chocolate syrup. Even mashed peas or carrots seem a world away from that first station along the culinary express: rice cereal.
When the doctor first told us to start Bub on rice cereal, I thought he was talking about Rice Krispies or perhaps Rice Chex. Lo and behold, he was actually talking about (according to the label): organic whole grain brown rice, tocopherols (vitamin E) and electrolytic iron. Fifty calories per 4 Tbsp. serving. Certified organic. Product of Germany. Not exactly Snap, Crackle or Pop.
Doctors have been recommending this tasty concoction for the past several decades. It’s gluten-free, easily digestible, and iron-fortified. They call it the gateway food.
The switch to solid food is another milestone for Baby. Our original (read: fired) pediatrician told us to start too early, before Bub had proper head control. It sounds trite, but Baby will let you know when he’s ready. All you can do is be prepared on your end. You will need a bowl of any sort, though plastic is recommended for obvious reasons, a plastic baby spoon, a box of the cereal and some breast milk (or formula). A high chair is nice, a bib is essential. Aim will serve you well, and patience is a given.
Now to call rice cereal a cereal is kind of like calling cheesecake a cake. And to call it solid food is akin to calling hopscotch a sport. More oatmeal or grits-like than anything, it is a gooey, gritty mess, as ambiguous as its serving instructions: “1. Pour desired amount of cereal in bowl. 2. Stir in liquid. 3. Mix to desired consistency.”
This of course begs the question desired exactly by whom? But a couple shakes of the box, a couple ounces of milk, and voila! You’ve gotten your visa stamped and stepped across the disputed border into the fabled Solid Food Kingdom.
The feeding part itself is pretty self-explanatory. Small bites, ample chewing time, etc. Keep the bowl out of Baby’s reach to save yourself a magnificent mess. Try and get him to sit back as well, and keep an eye out for straying hands that like to block and/or grab incoming spoons and complicate the whole process. Of course you’ll be supplementing this delicious entree with an appetizer or dessert (depending on Baby’s temperament) of refreshing milk.
Now there is currently a new debate brewing about the connection between white rice cereal and childhood obesity. Critics claim that white rice cereal is high in starchy calories and made of processed white flour that babies don’t need. Depending on who you ask, some people say you don’t need the stuff at all and can go straight into fruits and vegetables.
Surely you’ve discovered by now that everybody has an opinion on what’s best for your child. But guess what? You are the parent, you know your child best and you make the decisions. We split the difference with the organic brown rice, but only for a week or so. We’re just about to blow Bub’s tiny mind with something called a sweet potato. Oh, the places you’ll go and the foods you’ll eat, my friend. Bon apetit!