When Margo was about 3 1/2 months old, and tipping the scales at 14 or 15 pounds (~6 kilos), both my mom and grandmother had already been after me for weeks to start Margo on solids!. My original thought had been, that unless she could put the food in her own mouth, had grown a few teeth and was sitting well, I wasn’t going to bother starting her on solids at all. If anything in parenting ever confuses me, I always think, ‘What would the cave people have done?’. Surely, they wouldn’t have spent hours mashing and pureeing food for a baby right? They would have breastfed them until they could eat! Anyway, what did I know about solids and a baby? So, I listened to the well meaning advice and went out and bought that rice flake stuff. Would the cave people have done that? No way man! But, I was still a bit fresh in the parenting department, so I tried it. I tried it once or twice on a spoon, she was just sucking on it, no way did she have any idea what she was doing, and I knew there was nothing more nutritionally valuable in that stuff than in my own breastmilk. So, I chucked the package in the garbage and vowed to next time stick to my guns and follow my instincts.
Fortunately, after a bit of research, my original opinion of delaying a baby on solids was backed up by some fantastic bit of information on one of my favorite parenting websites: www.kellymom.com. Here, they talked about how a baby is not even ready to touch solids until 6 months because of the ‘open gut’ theory, click here for the article. Then, I read more about this thing called Baby Led Weaning or Baby Led Introduction to Solids. Basically, it’s saying to let the baby be in charge of what goes in his or her mouth. So, to make a long story short, I never mashed or pureed baby food, I just gave Margo whatever meals we were eating. Of course, it was within reason, a bit of common sense goes a long way, I probably would have given her mostly cooked foods, rather than something like a raw carrot when she was very young. I watched for allergies, etc. And, since I was practicing Elimination Communication, I was very aware of exactly what was coming out and what was being digested properly, etc.
When she was 8 months old, I took Margo home to America to visit the relatives, they were shocked at how ‘little’ I was feeding Margo. Keep in mind, this baby was in the 97% for weight and they were complaining that I wasn’t feeding her enough! I let her try lots of foods, but I never stuffed them in her mouth. Occasionally, I would chew something up for her first and then stick it in her mouth if she looked interested. That, I’m SURE the cave people would have done. And, I still help her , even now, with a spoon if there are some hard to get bits on her plate. But, it wasn’t until Margo was about 15 months old did I notice her eating any substantial amount of food, and that was okay with me.
Now, at nearly 2 1/2, I have a very easy going eater. I won’t make her special food for dinner, EVER! Growing up, my two little brothers went through a little TEN YEAR phase where the ONLY thing they would eat for dinner was pizza! They’re all fine and healthy, over 6 feet tall now, and my mother even used to sneak healthy things in the homemade pizza dough she would make them… but I just can’t be bothered! What would the cave people do? If their picky toddler wasn’t interested in eating what they were eating, I’m sure it would have been like, ‘Right, you don’t want it… MORE FOR US!. They would never had made them a special meal only to have the kid turn their nose up at it.
So, tonight’s dinner at our favorite restaurant in Coolangatta, O’Sushi was sort of the pinnacle on the journey of baby led intro to solids. I was a bit proud of our little Margo chowing down her vegetarian dinner: tofu, avocado rolls, salad, and even rice, with chopsticks (do you know how hard it is to pick up rice with chopsticks!). And, you should see this kid shell her own edamame (soy beans in the pod). So, once again, the old school is the new school. The cave people got it, saved their time and their resources, I think I may have gotten it too.