Mission DTG: 23JUN15 1900HRS
Sometimes I get the feeling that my son feels much like I did when I was overseas and on my way to the chow hall at meal time. When we stick him in the high chair and get the baby food out he gives me that same look I had as I stood in line to sign in at the DFAC, that look that says “None of this is going to be appealing, but my stomach is growling and I need sustenance so I’ll choke down what I can for now”.
I’m not even going to get into the whole “breastfed vs. formula” debate (and don’t worry troop, we’ll get into ‘staying out of it’ when it comes to all of the dumb controversial crap about parenting later), but suffice to say there’s one major advantage to going the breastfed route (okay two, because boobs) and that’s the magic word: FREE. Well, I say it’s free, but that’s aside from what you shell out for the bottles, maybe a pump, and other stuff like bottle cleaning/sanitizing equipment and storage bags. But other than all of that, is doesn’t cost you anything, as opposed to constantly buying can after can of formula and baby water (seriously, there’s special baby water you have to use, I guess it comes from a magical spring frequented by unicorns and leprechauns). Then there’s all the specialty formula, like if your rugrat has spit up issues, or is milk sensitive, all of that fun stuff. Luckily for us when we had to switch to formula we’ve only needed the normal stuff. Still, that adds up to a pretty penny.
Which is why when you’re minion is old enough to start working on solids you will be ecstatic. This probably won’t be until 4-5 months at the earliest, but like a lot of other things there’s no set time. It’s not like suddenly one day you’ll wake up and your wife will issue you a FRAGO to start getting little containers of beginner baby food at the store.
But let’s backtrack to the bottle for a minute, because even when you start working on solids they’ll still be hittin’ the bottle most of the day anyways. Breastmilk/formula is like handing babies a bottle of Guinness: it’s got all the nutrients they need to fill them up, and once the tank is full they’ll get all milk drunk and drowsy.
See exhibit A:
This specimen is in the most ideal state: satiated and ASLEEP. Generally when this happens you’ll feel like you’re back in basic during an in-ranks inspection because you won’t want to make the slightest move for fear that you’ll wake them and shatter the momentary silence you’ve just discovered.
Eventually though, you’re going to need something more than just the bottle to get them back to this docile, non-hostile state of being. If nothing else than an attempt to maintain your sanity as they begin to suck down entire bottles and not quite reach that milk drunk state. This is where you’re going to turn to solid foods to start bridging that gap. The general consensus goes like this:
- Are they sitting up with minimal support?
- Have they gotten past that initial reflex where they automatically push stuff out of their mouth with their tongue?
- Are they trying to pick stuff up with their little nubs you’d call fingers?
- Are they reaching for your food when you eat?
- Most importantly, even if they aren’t teething yet, are they trying to gnaw your fingers off like crazed little cannibals?
If you’re hitting on 3-4 of these then it’s probably not a bad idea to start giving solid foods a shot. Now you don’t have to be Jack FancyPants and start looking for designer baby food or be exclusive to ‘organic non-GMO gluten free’ or anything like that. Baby food at this stage is essentially just mushed up fruits and veggies. Anyone that says otherwise deserves a solid knife-hand followed by “Shut yer yapper JACK”
When you get to this point though, it’s all about trial and error. Most references will tell you it could take up to ten times before that picky little midget decides whether they like something or not so it’s all about persistence. You’re not going to sit them down in the high chair, strap on their drippings-catcher (aka Bib) and present them with a baby food menu with the day’s offerings. One thing I will caution you on is temperature, but this goes for breastmilk/formula too. Now don’t buy too much into the hype of making sure the bottle is nice and warm before giving it to them, babies aren’t THAT picky. Cool to lukewarm is pretty much the ideal sweet spot as far as temperature goes.
So you’ve got the little cannibal strapped in, daily allotment of veggie mush at just the right temp, and you’re ready for action. All I can tell you at this point is good luck Jack. The fine art of spoon feeding in this first stage is like mastering Zen Archery. Bottom line if you can shoot for getting about 70% down their gullet with the remaining 30% at least on the bib/tray/anywhere but the floor then you’re doing pretty good. Odds are good though that at the end of chow you’re going to be looking at something like this:
Now move out and draw fire!