There is so much to stress over as a new parent. Every month, your baby is doing different things. They grow, they learn, they hit milestones and eventually, they’re big kids and you wonder why you ever worried about it all. For me, one of the milestones that stressed me the most was the transition to eating solid foods. I gave so much time and energy to this subject and looking back, I wish I could tell myself to calm the frick down. All babies develop at their own rate so there’s no need to worry when yours hates everything you feed them while your friend’s baby is eating cubed avocado and quinoa like it’s candy. Like all things, this phase shall pass.
When my first child was four months old, I was very eager to start her on solids. I’d heard that it was a good idea to wait for six months but her formula consumption was on the high side and her pediatrician said it might be good to start her on cereal. She hated it, probably because it looks like glue and has no flavor, and I was immediately miffed. Determined, I bought some books about making my own baby food and got a cute little food processor and fancy ice cube trays. Obviously, this could not fail. If I had the right materials, she would HAVE to love everything I made, right?
Nope. Not even close. I pureed sweet potatoes, and even lightly seasoned them. She spit them out. I gave her peas thinned out with my own sweat and tears. She turned up her nose. She hated most purees and for a time, I became convinced she would be taking a bottle until college. One of my biggest parenting worries was having a child who was a picky eater who we would have to beg to eat. I feared it was about to come true.
That is, until we were able to give her actual solid food. As it turned out, she loved pretty much everything. Just not in puree form. She gobbled up cubed sweet potato and picked up peas with her chubby little fingers and stuffed them in her mouth with gusto. She is now nearing eight years old and there is hardly anything she won’t eat. Phew! Crisis averted. But boy, did I waste a lot of hours worrying.
Speaking of picking up foods independently, my son was not especially eager to perform that milestone and I was very nervous about it assuming he had some kind of motor issue. Where my daughter started doing this eagerly at about eight months old, my son was still refusing to at close to a year. The pediatrician seemed unconcerned and said he was just being stubborn knowing I would eventually give in and stick the food in his mouth for him. He was pretty crafty in that way — getting me to rock him more at night or nurse him a little longer. The doctor said I should refuse to feed him by hand and that eventually, he would do it himself. Of course, the doctor was right and my visions of sticking food in my 16-year old’s mouth vanished. Now, I can’t STOP him from shoving food in his mouth. His days of my crying quietly while he refused to pick up a single Cheerio are now a distant (and funny) memory.
Like all difficult parenting phases, when it’s happening, it feels so present and as though it will never change. Looking back, I wish I had been more relaxed about the process of transitioning my kids from breast-milk or formula and just enjoyed it. Instead, I rushed through and worried they weren’t keeping up with other children or that their fussy baby habits meant more than they did for the future. Don’t worry about what order you feed things in, what your baby likes or dislikes or even if they refuse purees altogether. Barring a medical condition, it’s just babies being babies — and like snowflakes, no two are the same. It should be a fun and exciting time for you both. If you stress over it excessively, it won’t be fun for anyone.