Friday, September 25, 2009

The Dinner Bell Has Rung

Time for dinner. Olive has reached yet another milestone. Scaled another development Everest. Conquered another chapter in What To Expect in Your First Year. My wife and I finally made the decision that Olive was ready for (drum roll, please) FOOD. We of course needed to consult three books, four websites, and a doctor before doing this. We knew from this info that most babies start solid food sometime between 4-6 months of age. We were trying to hold Olive off for as long as possible, mainly because we were traveling so much and wanted to be stationary for a couple weeks to help get her in a routine. She had already been displaying all the signs of a baby that wants something to eat that doesn’t come from a bottle or boob:

• She puts everything into her mouth
• She sits up well and holds her head up like a champ
• When we eat a meal she stares at us like a 14-year-old boy stares at Megan Fox. And drools like one too
• Most importantly, she was getting harder and harder to satisfy with just breast milk or formula.

Now, I have read conflicting reports that eating food will help a baby sleep or go longer between feedings, but we figured that since she is almost 6 months old, and she has been sleeping like a 60-year-old with a prostate problem, that we would give it a try.

So at about 6:30 PM, comfortably far enough away from a feeding that she would be peckish, but not famished, we set the scene. BebePod seat (great inventions) set; small spoon at the ready; bib firmly attached so as to effectively guard against spills, but not impede airflow; cloth diapers at arms reach to mop up messes; camera battery charged; and, of course, a bowl containing one tablespoon of rice cereal mixed to a sufficiently disgusting and mushy consistency with a few tablespoons of formula.

For the uninitiated, rice cereal is usually given as baby’s first meal for a number of reasons, primarily because it is easy to digest and it does not contain gluten. As an added bonus, it is also possibly the easiest of foods to spit out, spread between folds on a baby’s neck, splatter across a table and generally create an epic mess. Needless to say, I was ready to run a bath. If it were earlier in the summer I may have just brought her outside and hosed her down. We chose the Earth’s Best brand of rice cereal that has the picture of the creepy babies somehow farming in diapers and picketing about genetically modified food. Apparently, babies fed organic food develop much faster than regular babies; I mean, Olive can hardly sit up, never-the-less till the earth and grow squash).

First spoonful. Right in the mouth. Wow. She is good at this…oh, wait, coming out. Yup. Out of the mouth. Down the chin. Onto the bib. This was basically the process for the next 25 of so spoonfuls. Every once and a while she would grab a handful of the cereal off the spoon and rub it on her face, in her ears, up her nose. I also forgot to mention that while looking benign enough, rice cereal dries like rubber cement. I swear you could spackle with that stuff.

At the end, Olive had probably ingested about 4 calories worth of food, and was surrounded by a three foot diameter blast zone of rice cereal. It was as if someone filled a water balloon with the stuff and then took aim at it with a shotgun. But, that is how it is supposed to go. I mean, Olive has never actually chewed anything. She has never been given anything off a spoon. Think of your first time ice-skating or skiing and think of how long it took for you to pick up a completely foreign action. Now imagine that you are covered in rice cereal (just kidding, that’s gross).

The next two nights didn’t go much better. One, I was going solo, so I think Olive could sense the fear. Second, Olive knew what was coming and could guard against the rice cereal entering her mouth all together. Only a few spoonfuls in on the second night she through up her hands, karate kid-style, and waxed on and waxed off the spoon out of the way.

But Olive did get better. The fourth night was a success. We emptied one bowl and even mixed up a little more (we estimated that only about 29.6 % actually went in her mouth). Now we are confidently striding down the path of solid foods. Next week we will start feeding her cereal twice a day, breakfast and dinner; a couple weeks after that we start her on fruits and veggies. Then, after that, nachos. My little girl is all grows up.

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