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Taking The Finger Food Plunge

Although Madeleine’s been eating solid foods for over three months now,
she just started finger foods about two weeks ago; I held off giving her
finger foods until after her nine-month checkup. She’s not gotten any
teeth yet, and I was worried that you needed teeth before you started
tackling food that requires chewing. And while I was hesitant to start
with the finger foods before having an official “OK”, I was also dying
to see my adorable cherub feed herself, so our pantry was fully stocked
when we headed to the doctor’s office in anticipation of that “yes” vote.

With the all-clear from the doctor in hand, I sat down to start my
daughter on a new part of her journey. I spent a long time agonizing
over what finger food to start with; part of my reluctance to dive into
self-feeding was the whole “How will my baby know to chew before
swallowing and not choke himself?” thing. The Gerber Food Puffs were
recommended by several women; I initially turned my nose up at them,
having read the ingredients and seeing sugar added to every flavor. But
they were quickly added to my food cart when it was pointed out to me
that they dissolve very rapidly in liquid, making it nearly impossible
to choke on one. So much for my principles.

Here’s my biggest gripe with common first finger foods: many of them
contain ingredients relatively high on the allergy list! Cheerios and
Gerber puffs both contain wheat, which some people don’t advise
introducing before 10 months! Yet finger foods are often started around
8 months! Another big first food is cheese, like shredded mozzarella.
Again, cheese and yogurt are not to be introduced too early into baby’s
solid food diet. Then you have products – like the Gerber Wheels – that
have both wheat and milk products in them. It’s enough to make your head

So in order to start my kid on finger foods that seem dissolvable and
easy to eat, I had to start prepping about a month in advance with the
whole introduce a new food, wait 5 days, and so forth. Madeleine had
five days of Cream of Wheat and five days of yogurt before having the
respective finger foods added, and I’m sure that moms of multiple kids
are laughing their heads off at this point in my blog. What can I say.
New Mommy.

As a side note, I did try finger foods of a different type earlier in
her life. We tried soft foods about a month ago, since the only
difference between a ripe avocado for an adult and a ripe avocado for a
baby is how many times it’s mashed with a fork. Some websites recommend
starting with banana or avocado to teach self-feeding, reasoning that
the texture’s similar and it’s somewhat easy to pick up. Since we avoid
bananas (see my month of constipation blogs), we went for avocado.

My husband came in for lunch greeted by the sight of his daughter on the
floor in her booster seat, covered from eyeballs to shoulders in ripe
avocado, delightedly dangling bits of it onto the floor underneath her.
When I solemnly explained that I was teaching her to self-feed, he
replied, “It looks like she’s learning something, all right.” I had to
admit that not much of the avocado made it into her mouth (though I
think her hair was shinier the next day thanks to the avocado hair mask)
and shelved the self-feeding thing for a while.

But that was weeks ago. Cheerios are hard to mash in your hair and ears,
right? And Cheerios have less added sugar than the Gerber Puffs. And as
my pediatrician solemnly pointed out, even if, God forbid, Madeleine did
get a Cheerio stuck in her throat, she could breathe through the hole.

Do you think she was laughing at me?

At any rate, Madeleine and I sat down the day after the doctor’s visit
with a Tupperware full of Cheerios in one hand my infant CPR notes in
the other. She stared, interested, at the little oat circles on her
tray, poked around with her finger, cut one out of the herd, and – Yes!
– picked it up and put it in her mouth. My daughter is the smartest girl
in the world. She made it through the entire tray with nary a choke or a
gag, and was entirely pleased with herself and her new trick.

As for me, I was having another Sunrise Sunset moment, misty-eyed at
witnessing another first in my daughter’s life.

Until my husband wandered into the room and said, “Look at her go on the
Cheerios! I gave some to her for the first time last night while you
were at work. It was really cool.”

I think my memoirs are going to edit that part out.


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