This is how we do it: food!

I have always been curious about how people live their lives, even more so now that I am a parent and thus constantly looking for ways to get through, if not necessarily improve. For the next few weeks – or until I get tired of it – I’ll be sharing (way too many) details about our life with a kid.

Javi is just shy of six months old.

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For the past few months, we’ve been in a pretty solid every-three-ish-hours formula routine. Javi eats Enfamil Gentlease formula, and though it’s expensive, attempts at switching him to two generic versions were deemed a total failure. The Sam’s Club version got him all hopped up like he was on a sugar high; the Target version caused fountains of spit-up. So, we order it from Amazon and don’t mind the cost. Hell, we pay for premium dog food, right? We switched to Gentlease during that period when your eight-week old infant is fussy and you have no idea why so you try everything to just FIX IT. He would probably do fine on regular infant formula now, but we’re far too chicken to mess up a good thing by trying to switch, and his pediatrician says we gain nothing by doing it, so why bother?

Our parenting mantra: keep doing it while it works, and when it stops working, do something different.

We now use Dr. Brown’s bottles in the 8 ounce size after trying Breastflow and Avent, and finally realizing why everyone else puts up with the little pieces that make up a Dr. Brown system. They work. We have a cheap generic dishwasher basket for all the parts except the nipples; those stand up in a little basket that came with our dishwasher. I don’t know what it’s intent was, but it’s perfect for holding them upright so they get really clean.

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So, the three hour schedule: I can’t take credit for it. We were feeding him really often (REALLY often) before we started day care at 10 weeks, and within two to three weeks he was on an every three hours-ish schedule. I’m certain some crying and fussing was involved in getting him there, but it’s been good for him to go longer than an hour without eating (we were such suckers) and we avoided crying and fussing (literally, I would cry when he would cry back then).

He wakes up between 6 and 7 in the morning and gets one bottle with an extra ounce of apple juice for digestive reasons. Around 9-ish he gets another, then he eats the next two at day care (say, noon-ish and three-ish), then a final bottle at or around bedtime. If he’s hungry before bedtime and it’s clear he’s not also tired, we’ll give him a bottle early and then just a few extra ounces during our bedtime routine.

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He eats around 6 ounces of formula at a time. During growth spurts, he’ll suck them dry, taking in somewhere around 30 ounces in a day. Once that passes, he’ll leave an ounce in every bottle for a while, bringing the total down to 25-ish ounces.

We started flirting with solid-ish foods after his four month pediatrician visit, mostly for fun until very recently when he made it clear to us that it was time to take this thing to the next level. (He did this by being really disinterested in his bottles for a few days.) By this point he’d had sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and pears, all roasted and smushed by me because I’d rather do that than go to the store when I get a whim to feed my kid smushy food.

(It’s so easy. Cut the suckers in half and lay them cut side down on foil or in a pan, then roast at 350 until they’re soft and smushy. Mash them with a fork or run them through a cheapo $8 manual food mill, add a little apple juice to get to the right consistency, and freeze in little dollops. I add spices too because that’s fun, cinnamon to sweet potatoes and ginger to pears. When you’re ready to use one, pop a frozen dollop in a bowl and defrost, then add cereal and formula to get the consistency right again. It’s pretty tasty.)

Because we’re pretty easy-going, his day care peeps tried oatmeal cereal with him one day and then mixed grains with sweet potatoes and apples another. The first got an “eh” response; the second got “ohmygod this stuff is great!” in baby terms. Technically the mixed grains are a “level three” cereal, but nothing went wrong and he likes it, so I’ve kept feeding it to him.

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I let him try to feed himself if he wants, with a spoon or his hands or (in a particularly funny moment today) by dipping his face into the bowl like a puppy. Why not? Worst case, he gags a bit, then is more careful with the spoon next time, or snorts sweet potatoes and then laughs. And while we do own baby spoons, he chews on them and thus they are never to be found when needed for their actual purpose, so we use real spoons. At day care they use full-sized disposable plastic spoons.

Once the bottle disinterest happened, it was time to have an actual plan lest he start trading fun food for the nutritional benefit of formula, so as of yesterday, he gets the first bottle as per usual, the second bottle is 4 oz followed by a mix of cereal and something I’ve smushed with some formula added, then he gets the third and fourth bottles at day care, and the final bottle at bedtime. I’ve managed to quell the urges I have to spike his formula with spices for variety for now.

I’m choosing to feed him the smushy stuff at home, not at day care, because a) then I have some control over making sure he gets formula first and then food and b) I can never find containers I can send food to day care in and c) it’s fun and I want to keep the fun stuff here, thankyouverymuch. Plus, he makes a mess while in his pj’s, which I fully support, and I just wipe him down and change him before sending him in a cute outfit that’ll stay somewhat clean until he comes home (or pees on it).

I’m guessing we’ll keep doing this one-food-a-day thing until he tells us he’s ready for more, then we’ll add a second meal…? We’ll see.

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7 thoughts on “This is how we do it: food!

  1. Your kid is really cute (just saying!).

    Have you thought about baby led weaning? I did it (I didn’t like the idea of paying big bucks for gross baby food; also, I can’t cook) and really liked it. I think my daughter did too, because then she’s in charge of her own eating. It’s nicer for me too, because since she feeds herself meals are a lot more relaxed. You can’t start until they are 6+ months, but now that he’s older maybe it would work for you?

    • @Grace, Ooh, thanks for the reminder. I’d actually planned to do baby-led weaning but the siren call of playing with food led me to mushy food since he was too young… but now he’s not! Yay!

      I’m remembering that a few weeks ago I gave him a chunk of apple to keep him occupied while I was throwing together dinner, and it was really funny to watch him figure out how to hold it and lick it.

      I’m excited now, thanks!

      (Also, have another post I need to write about the terms “training” versus “teaching.” You were right with your comments about teaching children the “why” behind an expectation for their behavior.. and it reminded me that the best outcomes happen — even with non-verbal creatures like dogs — when we verbal creatures explain why, even if they don’t understand it. Anyway, more on that soon.)

    • @Grace, did your baby gag? I did a quick google search and it seems the biggest deterrent to BLW is that the grown-ups struggle to deal with the gagging/ choking possibility. The other day at lunch with my husband and in-laws, I gave Jav a spoonful of roasted (mushed) squash and he gagged. No big deal to me, it was just a different consistency than he was used to, but holy hell, my husband reacted like he was dying and my in-laws freaked.

      So I guess the first step will be to acquaint my husband with the idea that gagging is a good thing (it’s his own survival skill!) before we try this. I’ll note that he often gags a bit on the first couple spoonfuls of anything that’s not liquid, then adjusts to the new skills needed to move it around his mouth and swallow.

      • @Marisa, She did a little bit (especially at first). Mostly it was just coughing though (no actual choking episodes), and then she’d just spit out whatever disagreed with her. I certainly never felt like she was in danger or anything. Sometimes she just spits out food if she doesn’t like the taste, after all! I think the gagging is actually less than when spoon-feeding her, because she controls how fast the food goes in and the portion size.

        I do only feed her when she’s sitting upright at the table though (no mobile snacking). I think that’s supposed to reduce the risk of choking/gagging.

  2. “Our parenting mantra: keep doing it while it works, and when it stops working, do something different.” YES!! This is our mantra as well. I have to admit when I first read this I felt a little jealous that you’re doing all the feeding of solids at home. We can’t figure out how to make that work. Wake up time varies and what doesn’t vary is the time to get out the door (8am) to get to daycare. We don’t have enough time to leisurely work on eating solids in the morning and she is SO tired when she gets home from daycare at night that I don’t think it makes sense. Right now, daycare gives her one feeding of solids in the morning between bottles and reports back on how it’s going. We will get to see how it’s going first hand on weekends. It makes me a little sad that I’m not the one who will help her learn to eat solids. 😦

    As for what to feed her, I’m struggling because there is so little time already to get things done that I don’t know that I want to commit to making her food. BUT, I think that would be healthier and more ideal. Finally, I am beating myself up over not doing more research before she got to this point about starting solids and thought about how I wanted to do it and what method (veggies or cereal or fruit first? baby led weaning or mushy stuff, homemade or store bought?).

    Being a mommy is hard! I want to hold myself to this crazy standard while still doing a great job at work, keeping the house together, spending quality time with my daughter and husband, and keep myself healthy (healthy food, find time to work out…haha, mommy alone/fun time, etc). The reality is that there is only so much time I would even have to fully research ANYTHING!

    • @Tiffany, I totally understand, don’t worry, so while we don’t work this way, let me talk to you like I would my best friend. Ready?

      Dude, relax. I will do the research for you: go to any store and buy the packets of food that are organic, single ingredient, and sound good to you. Done! That is totally what I did, I promise. Then I used them all up (well, because I bought TWO, not willing to commit) and didn’t want to go to the store. I had sweet potatoes in the fridge and we use the oven most nights for dinner, so voila. Done. You can mash the suckers up with a fork and be done.

      You can also give her little chunks of what you’re eating and that way, you get the funsies done with you and leave day care to the crap work of teaching her how to eat quickly. Outsource!

      That is totally my strategy, by the way. My kid needs stability, fun, and enlightenment to have a good life. He gets stability at day care, fun at both places, and the enlightenment/ new opportunities belong to us, thankyouverymuch.

      Send the stuff she’s already eaten to day care, try the new stuff on weekends. Throw the schedule out the window on weekends because they’ll fix her again on Monday anyway.

      And try not to regret the time she’s there and not with you (I have to tell myself this a lot). She benefits from it as long as you balance what she doesn’t get in your time with her. If they don’t go outside (mine doesn’t, not at this age), spend all your limited time outside. If they are rigidly scheduled (mine isn’t, but yours might be), be a little more flexible.

      And skip the research. Ask other people what they did and do that. 🙂

      Hugs. It IS hard, but I think if you let go of your wanting to do it all yourself (even the research), it might not be as hard.

      • @Marisa, Thank you!!! I needed a reality check and you are right about letting others do the research and then just going with what they recommend. I did that with baby gear before my daughter was born so why do I feel like I have to start from scratch now?? I took your advice and we’re now the proud owners of some yummy (hopefully!) organic baby food. Maybe I’ll get around to making some of it on my own and maybe not! Either way, she’ll be totally ok so I’m going to try not to sweat it. 🙂

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