I’m on a mission. We’re closing in on the last week of Mr. 6 months being Mr. 6 months before I have to start calling him Mr. 7 months and still, he refuses to eat solid food. Being the big, amazing, blue-eyed, gorgeous, healthy boy that he is, our family doctor has given me the “go-ahead” to start introducing solid foods when he was 4 months old. (He suggested this based on his size and health, not on his beauty and blue eyes – those were Mommy’s additions to his description!) Our awesome family doctor recommended introducing cereal. I questioned it as first because when I was introducing our daughter to solid foods just a short 11 months ago, he had recommended introducing vegetables first and not bothering with cereal at all, explaining that recent studies had shown that introducing sugars (fruits) and grains (cereal) at an early age caused an association between these foods and comfort; A.K.A. comfort food. These studies found that the connection between carbs and comfort could be a cause for child obesity. By introducing vegetables, babies developed a palette for different vegetables and essentially didn’t know what they were missing by not eating grains or sugars. I did not struggle at all to agree with this theory. It made perfect sense to me. However, I was stumped when a short 11 months later, I was being told something entirely different. I questioned him on it and he told me that even more recent studies had shown that it really doesn’t matter what foods are introduced to baby first. The idea is to expose baby to different types of foods and essentially get him to learn to intake calories from a source other than breastmilk to give him the feeling of being full for longer. It takes longer to digest something like cereal than it does to digest milk so if Mr. 6 months eats cereal we can both get more sleep. Who doesn’t want more sleep?
Interestingly, our doctor also told me about a medical mission trip he had made while new to medicine where he was examining infants in third-world countries. He said that when he asked the mothers of his infant patients what they fed their babies, they responded with “breast milk and fish.” Fish? That was unexpected. We had a quick discussion about the importance of protein and how it allows the feeling of “being full” to last much longer than any carbohydrate does. He explained that a dependence on carbs are a reason for a lot of health-related problems since we eat bread, pasta, rice to feel full but they are quickly digested and we find ourselves hungry again. If we ate protein, we would experience the feeling of fullness for much longer; confirming the North American craving of carbs as a comfort food. Interesting, right? I love my family doctor because I learn something new at every visit. I’m not about to start feeding my son a rack of lamb or a salmon fillet but we’ll try some cereal.
Even with my doctor’s advice and consent, I was still nervous about introducing cereal to my son at 4 months of age. I had done lots of reading and research before introducing my daughter to solid food less than a year ago. While there were all kinds of theories, the general consensus was that there were lots of benefits and medical reasons for waiting until 6 months. It’s amazing how quickly best practices can change. I mean we’ve all seen the evolution of parenting. What was considered best for baby 50 years ago is a lot of times unheard of now. Information changes and new theories and studies develop quickly but could it really change in less than a year? Crazy. Parenting sure is a huge responsibility. That night, I thought about our conversation again. I thought about how I had told our doctor that my son was up every 1-2 hours to eat. I thought about him telling me that he needed more calories and that he was trying to tell me he was ready for solids and needed something more. He needed something that would take longer to digest so he could feel full and get more sleep during the night. When I was at the grocery store the next day, I picked up a box of organic infant cereal, brought it home and read the side of the box and stared at it on the kitchen counter for a few days. I couldn’t decide if I should feed it to my son.
We avoided cereal entirely with our daughter. She started on veggies at 6 months of age. All kinds of veggies. I am proud to say that she has never eaten a jar of baby food. I cooked and pureed every single meal she ate. Even right before I was due to give birth to my son, I spent a day cooking and pureeing and had our freezer well stocked with fresh, pureed foods. Making my own baby food expanded my own horizons. It got boring for me to be cooking and pureeing the same things all the time so I set a goal for myself. I would buy one food each week that I wouldn’t normally buy. I started cooking and pureeing rutabaga, turnip, bok choy, beets, barley and quinoa. Baby Girl ate all of it with pleasure and Hubby and I tried out some “new to us” foods in the process. Our daughter is healthy, has an amazing palette and will eat basically everything. There is no food to date that she will not eat. In fact, today she reached out for the chicken caesar salad that I made for lunch after she finished the grilled cheddar and turkey sandwich with a side of avocado cubes that I had made for her. What baby eats chicken caesar salad? Mine does! As far as I’m concerned, she is a success story when it comes to eating solid food. Now, I find myself staring at a box of cereal that I wouldn’t have given my daughter less than a year ago. An early lesson in how difficult it can be to make the best decisions for your little ones. I finally decided to give it a try – or have Mr. 6 months old (who was then Mr. 4 months old) give it a try. He hated it. Just as I suspected. He wasn’t ready. He isn’t even sitting up yet. I had always thought that the ability to sit up on your own was a pretty good indicator that you are ready for solid food. As a mother, my instincts told me it was too soon. He wasn’t ready.
After a week or so of feeding him every 1-2 hours around the clock because he was always hungry, I tried feeding him cereal again. He rejected it. I tried everyday for a week. Each time he made a face of disgust and spit it out with each forced mouthful. I tried sailing the spoon through the air like an airplane, chugging it into his mouth like a choo-choo train, trying it myself and exaggerating chewing motions and saying an enthusiastic “Mmmm!” Nothing changed how he felt about it. I went out and bought 3 other types of cereal to try. I thought I had it figured out. Maybe he just doesn’t like the taste of this one? Nope. Each cereal had the same result: rejection.
Without wanting to waste any more money on cereals or risk him turning off of food completely if this is all I’m going to introduce to him, I decided to go back to basics… (what we did with Baby Girl) and introduce pureed fruits and veggies.
Roasted Butternut Squash…. rejected.
Roasted Sweet Potato… rejected.
Homemade Apple Sauce… rejected.
Homemade Apple Sauce mixed with Cereal… contemplated for a few bites then quickly rejected.
Conclusion: Baby Boy hates food. All food. Any food. He just hates food.
Although I haven’t weighed him recently, my son weighed in at 19.25 lbs at his 6 month checkup almost 1 month ago. He’s a big boy who needs to consume calories. He won’t even eat a Baby Mum-Mum (rice rusk biscuit) or mesh food feeder with banana, frozen peas, apple, etc. in it. The look on his face shows he is repulsed by food. I don’t know what to do.
I started researching Baby-Led Weaning. I don’t know much about it yet but from what I have learned from my quick self-teaching is that it is the theory that the introduction to solid foods be baby-led rather than parent-led. Most websites on the subject boast “No more mush!” in reference to pureed foods.
The theory of baby-led weaning boldy introduces the concept that “Food before 1 is just for fun!” The word “weaning” refers to the British definition which means “to introduce complementary foods” rather than our North American definition which means to wean off of breast milk/formula. Basically, from what I have learned at a beginner’s level is that baby-led weaning means introducing foods in their natural form (not pureed or mashed) for baby to touch, hold and explore the smell, taste and texture and trust that baby’s gag-reflux will not allow him to choke on a food that is too big should he pull of a large piece. (A little scary, I know!) They say you should give baby foods with “handles” such as a whole banana, half of an avocado, broccoli with the stem” for him to explore and gum pieces off.
I have a lot more learning to do on the subject but I’m willing to try anything to get my little guy to experience food. We started with my own naive version of baby-led weaning today. Baby Boy was given banana and peas. The banana was cut in a 1/4″ slice and the coined slice was cut into eighths. Baby Boy looked at it, touched it, smashed it, threw it, smashed it again. After about 20 minutes of allowing him to explore, he had consumed approximately 1/8th of a slice of banana. According to what I have started to read, this is good. He is showing an interest in food, something he was not doing with anything I was pushing into his mouth on a spoon. I decided to try something different and steamed some peas.
I placed about 20 peas on his tray as Miss 17 month old sat in her high chair enjoying her own snack. Baby Boy touched them, squished them, rolled them, smacked them flat like he was playing “Whack-a-Mole!” at an arcade. He did everything except show an interest in eating them. Miss 17 months began screaming and reaching for the peas. She loves her veggies. I asked her if she would like some. She excitedly nodded her head. I spooned some in front of her and she quickly picked them out and gobbled them down as they rolled between the banana, blueberries, apple and goldfish crackers that were already on her tray. What a weird kid, right? She is the exact opposite of my son when it comes to eating.
I spooned more peas on to Mr. 6 months’ tray and he again squished them, rolled them off of his tray, looked down to see where they had fallen. He did everything except try to eat one. Although it is a big no-no in baby-led weaning to feed the food to the baby, I picked up a pea and pushed it into his mouth. I watching him pucker in disgust. Some experts on baby-led weaning say to exaggerate chewing motions to encourage baby to chew. I exaggerated chewing motions to the point that Miss 17 months joined in and the two of us chomped air like horses in a stable. Baby Boy smiled because he thought our little act was hilarious and then he spit the pea out like a pinball machine. We did this over and over again with the same result.
When Baby Boy got so disgusted with the pea that he gagged to the point that he threw up his last feeding, we decided it was enough for today. I haven’t given up on baby-led weaning. In fact, since he went to sleep, and after I finished sweeping up the hundreds of peas from all over the kitchen floor, I’ve been doing a lot more research and have learned a lot more about it and I’m looking forward to introducing more foods in hopes that something will spark his interest. I’ve also taken a quick refresher on what to do when an infant chokes because handing over big pieces of food really does scare the crap out of me. Stay tuned.
Here’s hoping the boy eats something solid soon!
You can learn more about baby led weaning here: http://www.babyledweaning.com
andbabymakes3imean4 is one mom’s adventures while tap dancing on the brink of insanity with 2 babies, 11 months apart. If you liked this post, please click “Subscribe” to be the first to know about future posts. Thanks for reading! xo