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The one thing I couldn’t live without when my child was starting solids

OK, this is a hard topic to boil down to “one thing.” I think when any parent starts their child on solid foods, it’s a mixture of joy (“My baby is growing up!”) and fear (“What the heck do I feed them? What if they choke? Am I picking the right foods?”). I know I personally was in no rush to start solids; keeping life simple by just nursing was straightforward and required little preparation and clean-up. But alas, we couldn’t just nurse forever.

My plan was to feed my son pureed carrots from our garden once he turned 6 months old. I wanted to know that I was the only one who had ever touched these veggies and that they were fresh-picked and healthy and perfect. How first-time mom of me.

The day I planned to start solids, I went to the garden and picked our bounty, which yielded about four straggly carrots that were about an inch long each. Time for Plan B, which involved a quick trip to the store to buy carrots grown by someone who knew what they were doing. A short time later, they were pureed and all ready to go.

My son took a spoon full and puked it all back up at me (caught on video, of course). At this point, I hated solids.

So, more to the point: the one thing I couldn’t live without was patience. I think we all have an ideal plan of what we want our babies to eat first, and we have this lovely organized fantasy in our minds of how we’ll add in new foods and watch them just love everything, from carrots to pears to broccoli. Because we are super parents, and of course our kid will never be the picky one, right?

Then reality sets in, and you realize you are not in control here. Some babies love everything you give them and demand more, while others are more timid and picky and don’t get what the hype is. And that’s OK, because babies under a year only need solids to be exposed to tastes and flavors. Nutritionally, they are covered just fine by breast milk or formula until 12 months.

So be patient. Luckily we have lots of options these days, from purees to baby-led weaning to placing foods in mesh feeders. There are great cookbooks out there with lots of ideas. I used a combination of all these feeding methods and loved trying new recipes and techniques. Once I realized I could only present the food but not force my son to eat it (and doing so can actually have negative repercussions), I didn’t mind solids so much.

The good news is that my son—who used to hate those carrots and went through phases where he wouldn’t touch a fruit—is now almost 4 years old, and I had to tear him away from our bowl of strawberries this morning to get him to school on time. So much for my patience!

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

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