I had to leave BabyRoX for 3 whole days and 2 nights last weekend. It was a last-minute trip to Indiana for a friend’s funeral. It was really hard to be away, but I did it! And BabyRoX was fine. And I’m really, really glad I went. I took last week off to do some much-needed grieving and reflecting. One of my reflections, not related to my friend, is… man, pumping sucks. I never minded it when I only had to do it sporadically, but pumping around the clock was way more of a chore than breastfeeding. Mad props to those moms out there who pump every day!
Right now, BabyRoX nurses about 6 times in a 24-hour period. He eats anywhere between 3 and 7 oz of milk each time (I’m guessing, based on how much comes out when I pump!). I had gotten lazy about keeping my freezer supply of milk well stocked. I’ve donated milk, and I’ve even had to throw it out when it gets too old to keep and I didn’t find a mom in need in time. But I am so glad I had *just* enough milk to leave for 3 days. Actually, Mark had to water down the last two bottles. Now I’m going to make sure to keep that freezer full of milk until BabyRoX is eating solids for the majority of his nutrition.
Two months ago, we started exploring the fun and messy world of solid food. We’re doing a hybrid of baby-led weaning and the Montessori approach to weaning. With baby-led weaning, you introduce solids in their regular form – no purées or baby food. You let the child choose what they want to eat and let them explore the food and feed themselves, you don’t spoon-feed the child. Mealtimes happen at the family dining table (or the restaurant, if you’re out and about). This is a really easy approach because it doesn’t involve making baby food. It’s messy, of course, and you have to watch the child carefully to make sure he/she doesn’t choke on food. You also don’t give them ANY and EVERY food – you start out with soft, easy to eat foods like avocado and sweet potato, steamed veggies, etc. I’m not feeding BabyRoX filet mignon or anything. Duh.
The Montessori approach advocates self-feeding, as well, but uses a child-size table and chair (weaning table), instead of having the child in a high chair right away. The emphasis is on learning about mealtime rituals – using utensils, setting the table, cleaning up, drinking from a glass, etc. Initially, food is introduced at a time separate from the family mealtime so that the parent can focus on the child and help the child learn table etiquette and just get used to eating in general. Actually, the awesome blog How We Montessori has a great comparison of the two approaches to weaning/starting solids: here!
So for at least one meal a day BabyRoX eats with us. We have an awesome clamp-to-the-table highchair (this one) so that he can be a part of all the mealtime action. I also give him at least one meal a day at his weaning table. I bought a tiny chair that fits him perfectly and the table right now is a nightstand that just happens to be the right height and super sturdy, but we do need to purchase an actual table soon. He’s had a variety of foods so far and loved almost all of them. He is NOT a fan of creamed spinach or oatmeal. He likes pretty much everything else. Rice, rice cereal, mango, tomato, avocado, sweet potato, broccoli, beets, regular spinach, kale, zucchini, carrots, apples, etc. We’ve explored a lot of foods already. He tried salmon yesterday and loved it. I also don’t just give him bland foods. He’s had spiced-up things already and really seems to like the flavors. He says, “Mmmmmm!” enthusiastically and reaches for more food and/or bangs on the table when he wants more. We’re currently trying to teach him sign language for more instead of table-banging and food-grabbing….but it’s a process.
Eating is fun, and usually very messy. If we’re at a restaurant I try to give him some food he can eat easily without much mess and I help him eat the rest by holding it and letting him guide my hand towards his mouth. I don’t ever shovel food in or try to make him eat anything. Again, he gets almost all of his nutrients from breastmilk still, so eating is more about learning how to eat and getting exposed to various flavors right now.
He has a little glass he can sip milk or water from. Sometimes he sips it nicely and puts it back down. Other times he spills it down his shirt (or bib…I often take his clothes off to feed him dinner because it gets so messy!), and then tries to bang the cup on the table. Again, it’s a process. I don’t expect to have a perfectly well-mannered child at 8 months of age, but I do want him to begin learning proper table etiquette and how to use utensils. I also let him eat with his hands a lot, because a.) that’s easiest and b.) it’s fun and c.) it lets him explore the textures of the foods better. But I also give him a spoon and/or spork and let him try to feed himself that way. We end every meal by wiping hands, mouth, and table. He usually tries to eat the wipe I give him, but sometimes he wipes himself, too. He’s learning!
It’s fun, it’s cute, we have a good time. I’m not super strict on anything food/weaning related other than making sure we are watching him eat in case he chokes and giving him healthy foods as opposed to processed, refined sugar stuff. Yay, food!