Tackling the problems one at a time: Solids

Thank you kind people for your encouragements here and privately about Benji’s development. We will find a solution it just takes time. And money. And energy. But it will be resolved. ๐Ÿ™‚

While we await for an appointment to see a Radiologist for a hip ultrasound/x-ray, I start to tackle the problem of Benji’s slow weight gain — increasing his milk intake and figuring out what other solids to let him try. Even though I know breastmilk is still to be his main source of nutrition and contributor to his weight gain, the Ped recommended that we start feeding him solids 3 times a day (we had started him on them late last week; an exciting milestone!). Now, does feeding him more solids help with his growth? There is little evidence to suggest it will but the Ped seemed to think it would help. In fact, it might decrease his intake of milk as he takes more solids. But since we’re at 5.5 months now, and should start him on solids at around this time, I decided to just go with her recommendations anyway (and again, I could’ve argued with her that this will decrease his milk intake but I didn’t).

So, here is my spiel on baby’s first solids – what I was told, what I read, and what I decided to do:

One other thing I really didn’t like about our Pediatrician other than the fact that she screwed up Benji’s age, failed to give us a full prescription in our first appointment for Benji’s vaccines when she said she would, and thought we were there the second time for Benji’s 4 month shots (Lady, read your case notes BEFORE seeing your patients!) was her insistence that we start Benji on white rice cereal as his first solids. Her eyes glared at me disapprovingly when I told her avocado was Benji’s first food and that he took it well. “NOnonono, I told you rice cereal first, then orange vegetables.” (She did tell me that last appointment; I guess she remembers *some* things but not others. Then continued “Avocado is too strong for his digestive system.” I was too hungry and furious with her to even rebut with the plethora of articles I read online, both research and anecdotal, suggesting that rice cereal is NOT the best option for baby’s first foods. It is the easiest (for some; personally don’t think it’s much easier to prepare than, say, mashing up an avocado) and most available. But is it the most nutritious? No. Or, that the latest research promotes starting babies on natural foods, not processed foods made of processed flour.

In fact, more research are suggesting that white rice cereal is not nutritious as baby’s first foods. Read more about why Rice Cereal is not a good first food for babies from the WhiteOut campaign by Dr Greene, a Pediatrician and Clinical Professor at Stanford University.

What about the recent NYtimes article that mentioned that Pediatricians in France recommend babies first foods like leek soup, endive, spinach, and beet. Completely natural, and delicious! I may not know my veggie color groups very well but they certainly don’t sound like orange vegetables to me.

Anecdotally, a friend, whose husband is a Pediatrician, also started her daughter on natural foods instead of rice cereal. And yes, her husband didn’t think rice cereal was necessarily the best first food.

My choices were guided by information from Dr Greene as well as other helpful sources I read onย kellymom.com, Le Leche League International, andย wholesomebabyfood.comย .ย Dr Greene suggested in place of rice cereal, to start babies on sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados. If it is necessary to feed babies cereal, he recommended organic whole grain cereals instead. The Ped we saw also said to feed Benji veggies first, then fruits, to prevent babies from developing a “sweet tooth,” something which, from what I read from numerous places, is a myth, since breastmilk is already naturally sweet!

Since Benji’s weight gain has been slow, and since the Pediatrician was insistent he goes on rice cereal, I met her halfway and decided to give Organic Barley Cereal for his second taste of solids. We’re into day #7 of solids and so far, Benji seems to really enjoy both the avocado and barley cereal and has not had obvious allergic reactions to them. He opens his mouth whenever the spoon is near his mouth, and has now learned to keep the food in (lost most of the tongue thrust reflex) and swallow it. He also loves holding the spoon and trying to put it in his mouth (like he does with everything else that comes within his reach! Heh.).

Our next trial will be sweet potato and then yam. It’s all very exciting. I have also spent the last couple days reading up recipes for homemade baby foods on Anabel Karmelย and am looking forward to trying them in the next few months. However, because we do highly suspect food allergies due to his eczema, I will be extremely cautious with foods we will introduce and try down the line such as beef (my brother was allergic to it as a kid) and seafood (my dad is mildly allergic to shellfish).

In addition to the solids, I have also added one extra milk feed in the day, which Benji seems to be taking quite well, too. We shall see if his weight will continue to blossom. I don’t expect it to increase dramatically the way it did in the first couple months and since both me and my husband are skinny people (we’re Asians. Shrug.) a chubby kid is not expected.

Oh, and yes, we are not going back to that same Pediatrician again!

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7 comments
  1. Deni Lyn said:

    Wow! U have done your homework! Its great info! I did not really do much homework – I was just lazy ๐Ÿ™‚

    Our Doc recommended oatmeal as first food. But I found it a pain to make. So
    I started feeding avocado, banana, sweet potatoes etc. basically anything smooshy that we ate.

    I did only introduce one new item at a time just to be sure there was no reaction. Our son has never even had rice cereal ha! (brown whole rice more recently though).

    I applaud you for making your own informed decisions about what is best for Benji. I know he’s going to be just fine! You are in my thoughts.

    • the speech monster said:

      hi there good to hear from you. thanks for sharing. it’s so much more appetizing for babies, i think, to have proper foods that we adults eat as well. i’m glad someone else also gave their babies avocado for first foods and i’m sure he took it well like benji did! ๐Ÿ™‚ i think this skepticism came after benji’s eczema diagnosis…we saw almost 5 doctors before getting the right help…that scarred me. anyway that’s another story for another time.

      thanks again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. We started off with cereal because we also heard the same thing that they’re what you’re supposed to start off with. In hindsight, I could have given my kid a banana or sweet potato and he probably would have taken to it right away too. I’m glad you’re looking into another pediatrician because nothing’s worse than always second-guessing yourself with a doctor. Good luck with all the new foods! I loved making my own baby food and introducing them bit by bit to my little guy. I have a feeling he’ll like sweet potatoes ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • the speech monster said:

      you’re right, nothing is worse than sitting in that chair thinking “really?” to their advice…and then have them continue checking your child and providing further diagnoses. i’m really looking forward to this world of baby food! thanks.

  3. bellissimom said:

    I hope you guys find what works best for you. It is best to research like you have been doing because there are so many perspectives on what is right. I think that only you and Benji can figure that out in your case. Good luck!

    • the speech monster said:

      there are definitely so many different perspectives on what is right. as a para-health practitioner i know that all too well! with starting babies on solids, however, there seems to be a more traditional vs more current research based advice and the ped we saw definitely subscribed to the former. anyhow, so far so good. thanks!

  4. I hope things are going well with Benji. I agree with what has been said. You really have to do what’s right and what feels right for you and your family.

    We started Oster on avacados too. Also, sweet potatoes. Our pediatrician was a little upset with us when we told him that Oster wasn’t eating cereal yet. He suggested we start him (at 6 months) on it, but we really didn’t until 8 months. We relied on my breast milk, spinach, lentils, other fruits and veggies for his main source of food. Like you, I read everything on infant nutrition.

    Glad to hear you are ditching that ped. I’m sure you’ll find another one. Yelp! has always been my friend for situations like this.

    Have fun with all of the new foods!

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