Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ava's First Solid Feeding

Today we took the plunge into solid foods! Ava is 6 months + 1 week old and she's been grabbing for our food at meals for the past few weeks. The signs that I've been waiting to introduce solids are: turning 6-months old, sitting up independently, and grabbing for food. Ava hasn't been extra hungry or unsatisfied by exclusive breastfeeding so there really hasn't been any significant push. At our 6-month check up on Friday, the pediatrician said Ava is on track developmentally and her growth is so great, which made me feel very empowered that she's getting all her calories from me. But now it's time to introduce solids so she can learn to eat with us at the family table over time. I've already started a freezer stash of baby food: apple sauce and sweet potatoes.

I cooked an egg yolk for her first exploration of eating with a spoon. Egg yolks are high in iron and nutrients for the brain. You might wonder why I chose egg, since they are potential allergens. It turns out that egg white is the common allergen and not the yolk. I ran the cooked yolk through the food milk and took small amount for today and saved the rest for future feedings. I added a bit of breastmilk to give her a familiar taste and easy consistency. Ava opened her mouth for more! I gave her about 5-6 spoonfuls before she got antsy to nurse. I've heard not to feed your baby solids before you nurse or give a bottle, but after just teeny little bites, I knew it would be fine. In fact she nursed for almost an hour! Babies like to comfort nurse when they are going through new development phases. We're going through a lot with learning to sit up, breaking teeth, and rolling.

Did she like it? Yes! She opened her mouth for more. In fact, after Ava nursed, I mistakenly put her on my chest to play and she threw up over BOTH of us and there were pieces of egg yolk in her stomach that came up. So she swallowed it. Gross.

The first foods don't have to be rice cereal! Rice cereal is the most common first food for US babies, but I believe babies should eat tastes from the family table. The attraction to rice cereal is iron fortified and it's bland for baby to learn to eat. It's unlikely the baby is processing all that iron from the cereal. Even though breastmilk is low in iron, baby have iron stores from pregnancy that last to about mid-year. Combine that with the highly absorbable quality of breastmilk, I've learned from lactation consultants that babies use the iron as they digest breastmilk.

I decided to make my own food for Ava instead of buying commercial foods. In my La Leche League meeting, we talked about when you start babies on solids later, they are more equipped to feed themselves, which actually helps prevent choking because they are controlling it. And food doesn't have to be completely pureed if it's soft. So I figure I'll do as much as I can from the family table over time she'll literally eat the same meal. It makes total sense to me because she likes to grab food from our plate. We're not planning on feeding her chicken nuggets while we eat meatloaf, after all.

Resources for Baby's First Foods:

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