Tag Archives: feeding baby

Mithridates and the Temple of Cheerios

Some parents test jarred baby food out of curiosity, but live to regret it. Do not try to be a hero and eat baby food, unless you have made yourself immune by Mithridating.  The ancient king Mithridates so feared being poisoned, that he ingested it in daily small doses to build up immunity.  Yes, baby food tastes that bad.  Fortunately, your baby doesn’t know any better, so keep this information to yourself.  Kids are very perceptive; if you taste their food and gag in front of them, your message is no longer encrypted.  Don’t try to be deceptive by saying, “Mmmmm, yummy!”  He’ll see your pupils dilating and know you’re lying. 

When your baby has a few teeth, he can start eating strained or finely chopped meats.  Unlike adults, who can enjoy a cold piece of pizza, babies tend to like these meals warm.  If you try to heat a baby food jar more than indicated on the directions, there could be a grenade-like explosion in your microwave. Of course, most baby food is a dark orange color that stains easily.  Moms are still waiting for a line of clear, stain-free baby food and women’s clothes made out of burp cloths. 

It doesn’t take FBI training to spot a mom on the street – simply check her pockets for bags of Cheerios. Usually around eight months, babies learn to feed themselves this beloved staple of mothers everywhere.  In case you’ve always wondered about the Apotheosis of Cheerios, you will quickly discover the glory of having a few moments of freedom during mealtime and shopping. Not only will you buy stock in the cereal, you will buy barrelfuls and rent a storage space if necessary.  A handful of this bargaining chip can be used when you need a moment of peace at the table or in the store. 

You should never leave your baby alone while he is eating, even if he can feed himself.  Babies who do not have a full set of teeth should never be given choking hazards such as hot dogs, nuts and seeds, grapes, popcorn, candies, peanut butter, or apple chunks.  Look out for strings on banana pieces and deli meat. 

Every mom ends up playing the Airplane Game to feed her baby at some point.  In a moment of desperation, you will find yourself flying a spoon through the air and revving the “airplane” engine for landing.  You don’t have to feel a secret shame from playing this game occasionally, but don’t make it a habit.  Soon your baby will come to expect this constant entertainment, and meals will be unacceptable without a performance from the Blue Angels. It could make mealtime very unpleasant (unless you were a theater major). 

If the baby has been enjoying a meal and suddenly turns his head or refuses more food, he is done eating.  Playing with food and throwing it at your head or on the floor are also clues. Say “No!” firmly and take him out of his chair immediately if he persists. Most first-time moms follow a Five Second Rule:  If the dropped food has only been on the floor for five seconds or less, it is okay to pick it up and give it to the baby.  The Corollary to the Five Second Rule states that by the time baby three or four comes along, dropped food found the next morning means leftovers for dinner that night.

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A Bowl of Goop

The introduction of solid foods will probably be the first time – but not the last – that you have to scoop sweet potatoes out of someone’s nose with a Q-Tip. Five months is the average age to start feeding your baby solid food. Starting solid foods too early may lead to some food allergies, while starting them too late may lead to a mutiny in the nursery.  Your baby may have to start at four months if he goes from consistently sleeping through the night to waking up at the same time every night.  If your baby is hungry for real food, you may start having some sleepless nights, unless he is clever enough to be able to raid the fridge at midnight. 

Your baby is ready for solid food when he can control his head and neck and sit up with support. Ideally, he will be able to sit up in a high chair. You will also know your child is ready when he starts reaching for your food at mealtime.  Sometimes this is also accompanied by whining, grunting, or whimpering – but you really should act your age. He may longingly watch you eat with his mouth open, hoping you may throw a bone his way.  In other words, he’s giving you some MAJOR hints, so pay attention! 

Infant rice cereal is considered the best starter food for a baby.  The baby may not agree, but he really doesn’t get a vote at this point.  When you first prepare the cereal, it will look like a bowl of goop.  Don’t feel guilty, as though you are slighting your baby; they love this stuff!   It’s not like they can compare it to your prime rib. 

The first solid food feeding is usually considered a major family event.  As the video camera rolls, hopefully Baby will open his mouth and gleefully accept his new gourmet food.  Sometimes, however, a baby who is not ready yet for solids will push the food back out with his tongue.  It’s not a slight on your cooking abilities; you just need to wait a couple of weeks and try again. 

Only introduce one new food a week so you can tell if this food bothers the baby. Signs of a food allergy may include labored breathing, swelling around the mouth, skin rashes or hives, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. These symptoms usually appear within minutes to a couple of hours after your child ingests the food.  Your child should then be taken to his doctor for a full evaluation. 

Even more common than food allergies are intolerances to certain foods.  Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rashes.  If you see any of these symptoms, avoid the suspected foods completely until you undergo testing at the pediatrician’s office.  The most common food allergies include: milk, soy, egg whites, wheat, peanuts, and shellfish. If your child has a bad reaction to eggs at the age of one, he may outgrow the allergy if you eliminate them completely from his diet for a whole year. The good news is that most young children will outgrow food allergies by the time they are three years old. 

The key to solid foods is starting out thin and watery and gradually getting thicker and chunkier.  I’m talking about the food, not you. After infant cereal has been mastered, you can start with jars of strained fruits and vegetables. You may discover an ingredient that your baby despises.  Babies put everything in their mouths, except sometimes the food you want them to eat.  Sand, pebbles, and acorns go in the mouth, but peas?  Forget it. Keep trying until you find something your baby loves, and then you can stock up on the jars.