It’s a titillating moment for every parent, including me – the baby’s very first toothless bite.
I was completely in favour of breastfeeding on demand, at least till the baby was a year old. But starting external food would hopefully bring down the established two hourly feeding rituals we shared, or so I believed. We waited for our baby’s lead and his longing drools made it only obvious that it was time.
With excitement I discussed the possible first foods with the paediatrician and was all set to begin experimenting with varieties. Little did I know that the rest of the world was ready with advice on what’s and how’s of first foods. Keeping my decision firm, I followed the paediatric diet chart which mostly suggested one type of food for a week, just to see how the baby’s poop reacts to it. Well, it’s a parenting reality – you never take as much interest in the color or texture of the poop till you have a baby!
It was only logical that you begin with a mashed banana or likes – it’s tasty, soft and toothless friendly. But one advice did come out interestingly true – don’t grind the food, just mash with a spoon, else the child will never learn to chew. Even with the minor chunks my baby gagged in the beginning. He was still learning how to eat and we both reacted with our natural instincts – I freaked out and he promptly spat out what he couldn’t swallow, all without my help! It also didn’t take long to realize that no matter how much he ate or didn’t, he still wished for his all-time any-time favorite dessert – breastmilk, and I always granted his wish.
Soon enough the new found excitement he shared for food died. His tiny stomach could eat very little or at times nothing through the day. He had also started teething which increased the frequency of his comfort feeds. Forcing food against his wish was not an option unless I would rather have him develop aversion to eating altogether. Even his babbles were persuasive, leaving me with no alternative but to let him choose how much he wished to eat – after all babies will never stay hungry, neither will they over eat.
As weeks passed, he found new interest in grabbing the food by himself. I took his lead and changed the all-spoon menu I proposed. I started offering finger foods, par-boiled carrot and skinless thin fruit slices were his new favorites. It did wonders – his love for food returned and we accidently found a healthy teether toy in his finger foods! His gums, as sharp as his new teeth, pierced through them with ease. The ‘no spoon feeding’ move was backed by many, affirming he will be a healthy eater with no obesity concerns.
Well this path had its forks, he made a complete mess, explored the various textures by tearing/throwing/mashing on the floor and maybe taking a bite in the middle of this fun play time. But at least he had finally started relishing the concept of eating and watching him enjoy made me smile. Somehow, the after cleaning didn’t. But with little patience I soon realized how he grew up to be an independent eater who would demand food when hungry. Running behind him was always for play, never for food. His taste buds uniquely identified the eatables, picking varieties in a single meal and soon enough he started self-weaning from feeds. He now shared love for food like a connoisseur – what more would a parent ask for!
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