At Leigh’s four-month doctor’s appointment, the pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to start feeding him solids. At first I was excited, but then I started to realize maybe I wasn’t ready for that stage yet. Starting solids is a big step for a baby who has only had mother’s milk his whole existence. I was scared that he might choke and I wouldn’t know what to do. I was also frightened by the idea that he wouldn’t want me anymore. Because obviously, if he doesn’t need my milk, why keep me around? Rational thought, right?
However, Leigh was very interested in eating. He’d watch us move our hands from plate to mouth at the dinner table. His eyes zoned in on the food we were eating. He could smell food cooking and get excited. So we started giving him little pieces off our plates at the table. Sharing our meals seemed to satisfy his curiosity until his 24th week. I learned from frantically searching the internet for signs that my baby is ready to eat (and ways that I can resuscitate him, should he choke), six-months is usually when babies start to eat solid foods. A good sign of readiness is the baby’s ability to sit by himself and Leigh’s been doing for a while.
Feeling confident we weren’t getting ahead of ourselves, I picked up a couple of monster sweet potatoes and three acorn squash from the farmer’s market and made them into fresh baby food for little Leigh (recipe below). He’s in love with eating. He hasn’t turned away a spoon yet! I just take a tablespoon of vegetable puree and heat it in the microwave for five-seconds and he gobbles it up. I also feed him oatmeal cereal mixed with breastmilk. When that spoon hits his mouth, he kicks his feet as fast as they can go and makes loud “hmmm” sounds as his mouth opens and closes. He’s only eating solids once a day but I expect that frequency to increase quickly.
I like how through eating, I’m learning more about my child and my ability to be a mother. He still regularly nurses when he’s not completely distracted. His little body will rely on my milk for nutrition for a while longer. The foods he’s eating now, while still nutritional, are mostly just for fun to develop tastes and textures. Many people said Leigh would start to sleep through the night once he got a little cereal in him and that’s just not true in our case. He’s still a horrible sleeper, but we’re making due with the hours of rest we do get.
My advice: start with small amounts and have fun! You can always warm up more, but you shouldn’t save the food after it’s been contaminated with a spoon that’s been in the baby’s mouth. Bacteria grows fast and foods don’t have the same antibodies that breastmilk does to make it stable at room temperature for hours. Leigh is enjoying this new adventure and it’s a blast watching him learn how to taste new things!
Homemade Sweet Potato and Acorn Squash Puree
- Heat oven to 350 degrees
- Wrap cookie sheets in tin foil
- Wash sweet potatoes and acorn squash to remove dirt and extra fibers
- Carefully cut each sweet potato and acorn squash in half
- Place halves down on cookie sheets
- Bake for 1 hour – they are done roasting when you can stick a fork in it and it easily slides out
- Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes
- Using a spoon, remove sweet potato and acorn squash pulp and place (seperately) in a food processor
- Puree the sweet potato and acorn squash (separately) until smooth – give it a taste!
- Add breastmilk (warm or cold) to thin the sweet potato puree to desired consistency (about 4-5 ounces). Acorn squash is pretty thin by itself.
- Use within 3-5 days or freeze in an ice cube tray