Introducing A Baby To Solid Food: Expectations V. Reality
At my daughter’s last doctor’s appointment, her pediatrician suggested we start introducing her to solid foods. After a few minutes of, “Oh no! She is growing up so fast!” I was stoked. My family is very enthusiastic about food–I’m a food writer, my father is in the restaurant business, and my husband once ate six pounds of Craisins in one sitting–so I was excited to bring her into the “family business,” and I had some thoughts about how it would go. I was wrong.
Expectation: My partner and I will decide when to give our baby solid foods.
Reality: Every baker in the city has been trying to slip cookies and pretzels into the baby since she was two weeks old.
Expectation: I will feed my baby the best, most nutritious thing there is to feed a new baby.
Reality: I defy you to google “best thing to feed a baby” and find an answer in less than an hour. The world does not agree on this subject. Rice cereal? Peas? Carrots? Spinach? Just breastfeed until they finish the SATs? People feel very strongly about these subjects, and it’s hard to separate the science from the nonsense. After about an hour, I was ready to just hand the six-month-old baby a Lunchable and let her figure it out. Surely she’ll get the box open eventually.
Expectation: I will be chill and laid-back and not overthink things.
Reality: I was standing over my stove at 11 p.m. boiling filtered water to steam my organic peas so I could make homemade baby food to put in my mason jars when I suddenly realized, “Oh crap, I’m That Mom.” Then I Googled every ingredient in my dishwasher detergent pods to make sure it was safe to wash the mason jars in the dishwasher, or if I was going to have to scrub them by hand with lemon juice, baking soda, and the tears of the woman I was when I was 24.
Expectation: The baby’s face will light up with untold joy at her first taste of real food. It will be the best photo opportunity of her young life.
Reality: The baby did this:
The plethora of “baby makes gross reaction face” GIFs available on the Internet should have tipped me off.
Expectation: I will say, “Here comes the airplane!” and she will open wide and have a tidy mouthful of food.
Reality: The spoon her her new toy, and it is the best toy, to be grabbed and flung and used only by her. The only better toy is the mason jar of pureed peas she just spotted.
Expectation: All my Facebook friends’ babies are goopy and sticky and covered in food. My friends must be doing something wrong, because clearly my baby will manage to be relatively tidy.
Reality: Forget getting food in her own nose, she’s managed to get food in my nose. My baby looks like a Jell-O wrestler.
Expectation: The supernatural ability to not be grossed out by a dirty diaper, which I appeared to have developed the day she was born, is an eternal gift that will never go away.
Reality: Oh no! All those inoffensive, cute, newborn baby diapers are gone forever. Woe is me!
Expectation: Now we will eat dinner at the table every night like grown-ups.
Reality: Getting to eat dinner on the couch while watching TV is possibly the single greatest pleasure of being an adult, and I’m not ready to give it up, at least not until this season of Downton Abbey is over.