By, Justine Lorelle LoMonaco.
When it started.
My daughter started having food envy when she was about five months old. The moment my husband or I would pull out a snack or sit down to dinner, her giant blue eyes would zero in on our plates. Sometimes, she’d even unconsciously lick her lips or extend chubby, outstretched fingers for my fork. We started calling her the seagull.
“Oh yeah, she’s ready to start solids,” my pediatrician told me.
How it started.
I was excited to start this new endeavor, but not 100 percent sure where to start. My pediatrician gave me the green light to offer her pureed fruits and vegetables in whatever order I felt comfortable with, and she also encouraged giving my daughter finger swipe of sauce or dressings to introduce her to a variety of flavors.
Our first experiment was at lunch in Whole Foods, where my husband and I took turns letting her gum organic veggies from the salad bar. We were delighted that she seemed eager to suck on everything, from cucumbers to raw bell pepper and red onion.
My daughter’s first real experience with solid food came the next day at home. I used a baby food blender to steam and blend carrots. This was going to be easy! I thought.
Well…sort of. My daughter was eager to try the food, but, to be honest, she probably only ate about a teaspoon. The rest was gummed and dribbled and spat out, and before I knew it, I was cleaning carrots out of crevices I hadn’t even known existed before.
How I felt.
But I still felt positive. My daughter was obviously very interested in food, and she loved when I would give her a fingertip of marinara or a spoonful of applesauce (even if most of it ended up on whatever cute outfit I had put her in). Despite the mess, though, I was always encouraged by her attitude. She kept at it, opening her mouth for the spoon each time and doing her best to figure out how to use her tongue properly.
Some meals were more successful than others (let’s just say it took her more than a few tries—and laundry cycles—to come around to peas), but we never gave up. Before I knew it, my daughter was nearly a year old, and eating just about everything we put in front of her. (She’s almost two-and- a-half now, and raw red onion is still one of her favorite snacks.)
Meal time can still be messy, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up that first week. (Plus, those messy photos are some of our most adorable!) Nothing makes me feel better than knowing we gave her such a nutritious start with solids. Now if only I could get my little seagull to stop stealing my snacks…