Our Transition To Solids

Gerber Lil Crunchies in Apple Sweet Potato Flavour, Gerber Puffs in Banana Flavour, Heinz Farley’s Teething Biscuits in Banana Flavour (favourite*), and Gerber Lil Entrées Pasta Stars in Meat Sauce with Green Beans.

Being a parent is completely unpredictable.

Around 6 months, we transitioned our little Sunshine from exclusively breastmilk, to some baby fruit and veggie purees. This happened more quickly than I would have thought, but I don’t know why I thought it would take longer than it did, she seemed to always take to things right away. Even in the delivery room, I was amazed that they had barely cleaned her off and she was already latched onto my book, staring up at me. I remember thinking ‘Really, just like that?’ The same could be said for her switch to purees.

In my mind, when I was pregnant, I told myself I was going to breastfeed as long as possible, and now at 9 months old, that is still pretty much the plan. They tell you how difficult it can be to maintain a good latch, how to get the baby to latch, they even tell you how difficult it can be to keep your milk supply up, but I feel like they don’t tell you how draining it can be on mom, emotionally and physically, to breastfeed.

During days when she is overly fussy, when she is not feeling herself, when she is going through a growth spurt or a developmental leap, she is attached to my breast almost constantly. She falls asleep on my breast and if I dare even move her, she stirs and cries. This can be so overwhelming. It means that even if your baby does take long naps, it doesn’t make a difference to your day because you are trapped beneath them, providing the comfort they need while they go through whatever is happening in their little bodies.

Some days I felt so helpless. Hair unwashed, body odour building up, teeth not even brushed yet, and I had this little baby attached to my breast. My nipple the cork in a wailing child.

The thought of introducing purees was more than exciting. In a way, it meant freedom. I had read that because the fruits and veggies would make them more full, they may way to breastfeed less.

Thank goodness!

The purees worked and did just that. She would eat a quarter pouch and have four sittings throughout the day during the first week. Then it went up to half a pouch, four times a day. After a month of that, we went up to full pouches, three times a day and introduced some handheld snacks like teething cookies or Gerber Puffs. (When introducing any handheld snacks to your baby, make sure they are always supervised. If your baby gags or chokes, use your forefinger and thumb to squeeze their cheeks together and use your forefinger from your other hand to hook into their mouths and removed the food.)

At 7 months, I remember getting a feeling of freedom and relief. The baby purees meant that I could sit her in her playpen for longer stretches of time to play on her own while I actually did things for myself or around the house. It also meant we could spend longer times outdoors without needing to breastfeed.

Around the time we introduced the purees, we also introduced whole milk. I would use this when we were out and breastfeeding was impossible, like in the car. It really was a life saver.

Then, she got sick.

On May 31st, she woke up with her face caked in dried mucus. For babies, having their nose blocked is stressful, as they solely breathe out of their nose, especially for breastfeeding or bottle feeding. We took a nice warm steam in the shower to clear her out, but we did have to stick to a regime of saline nasal spray, and constant clearing of her nose.

Her mood was atrocious, as you can imagine. All those wonderful purees that had given me freedom suddenly didn’t interest her at all! Any type of food besides my breastmilk was pushed aside, her dramatically throwing her weight back to let me know this was not going to work anymore.

This was not her first cold. She was one when she was about three months and I thought to myself then that it wasn’t that bad. She fed constantly, sure, but she also slept all day long. It passed quickly and I found myself shrugging the whole thing off.

This time, I was not so lucky. Her congestion meant she didn’t sleep at night. She spent most of the night angrily rubbing her face, rolling onto her stomach, doing whatever she could to try and get comfortable. It usually meant I would move onto the couch with her and spend most of the night there, where she could sleep, partially sitting up, skin to skin on my chest while I got as much sleep as I could, which wasn’t a lot.

Her lack of sleep at night meant she was a tyrant during the day. Tantrums and crying, her naps would be interrupted when she awoke abruptly, unable to breathe through her nose the way she wanted.

It was rough!

For over a month, while being sick and coming back from being sick (she was sick for two weeks!) she refused to eat any solids. Constant breastfeeding to both boost her immune system and make her well, and because she wasn’t eating anything else started to wear on me once again. My doctor assured me it would pass and to just keep trying offering her purees and foods I knew she liked.

For any parents out there who are feeding their babies the purees, you know the shelf life of those are 24 hours after it’s opened, which meant a lot of food was going to waste. I decided to hold off trying any more of the purees until I knew they were something she would take.

Her transition back to food happened just as quickly as anything else with her. I was sitting on the couch next to her eating some barbecue meatballs and rice and she smelled the sauce. She slowly crawled over and looked up at me with her big eyes and I thought ‘What the hell, let’s try this’.

She, of course, tried to put the whole meatball in her mouth before I could take it back and then sat there smacking her lips at me the whole time while I fed her bite-sized pieces of meatballs with white rice.

After that, I did make an attempt to go back to purees with absolutely no luck. She was ready.

I made handheld cinnamon pancakes (I would make up to a dozen and keep them in the fridge so she could snack on them throughout the day or week as she wanted) for breakfast, she liked mashed potatoes and bananas for lunch, and at dinner, she wanted whatever we were having. The transition happened so quickly, but I am so happy it did. Life is a little easier when she is just grabbing what she wants and eating it.

Banana bread, cheerios, vanilla yogurt, French fries, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes… it has made my life easier knowing I can just heat up some leftovers for lunch and sit her in her chair for an hour or so while I eat my own food.

My advice to parents with children between the age of 6 months and 1 year would be; Don’t be afraid to try! I was so nervous about things that seemed too small, but you’d be amazed what babies can eat. There weren’t always baby foods and purees, and mothers would feed their babies off their plates once they were weaned off the breast. Offer your baby things they are interested in, supervise them.

Not everything will work, but once you find some staple things that will, you’ll be so relieved!

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