How Do I Know When To Start Feeding My Child Solid Food?

Dear Is This Normal,

My baby is almost 5 months old and our pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to introduce solids. But I have no idea where to start! How do I start feeding my child solid food? And what do I do if it turns out my baby doesn’t like a lot of the foods we give them? 

Sincerely,

Ready to Dig In

Dear Ready to Dig In,

Awwwww yeah! Congrats on reaching this, my most favorite of baby milestones! Introducing solids felt, to me, like a major shift in this whole parenting gig. Suddenly the baby wasn’t just. . .a baby, if that makes sense? They did more than baby stuff! Introducing solids felt like the first big change from blobby infant to babbling babe. It was the best. It was also very messy and sometimes very gross, but hey! So goes parenting, right?

If your pediatrician is giving you the green light for solids, that means your little one has already reached some pretty cool milestones, like sitting up on their own, doing the whole tongue thrust thing, and showing a general curiosity for what’s going on outside their baby bubble. But I totally get it—being TOLD you can start solids and knowing HOW to start solids are two entirely different things. 

While there are some definite no-nos (no honey and nothing that can be a choking hazard), the rest of it is pretty much up to you! So let’s get both of you off on the right bite so feeding your baby solids is a fun and exciting stage.

First, it’s important to remember that at this age, your baby will still be getting the majority of their calories and nutrition from breast milk or formula. You’re not looking to replace any of it at this stage—you’re just going to be adding to it. When it comes to introducing solids to baby, most parents follow the baby solid food guide and start with fruit and veggie purees, like apples or pears or peas. 

You’ve probably heard the old advice of introducing one food at a time and waiting three days to introduce something new. But many experts now agree that unless your babe is high risk for food allergies (having a family history of food allergies or eczema, for example), this precaution may not be necessary! If you’re still worried about this, introducing isolated foods (like apples for breakfast and sweet potato and carrots for lunch) will still allow you to pinpoint the culprit if there’s a reaction.

One more piece of outdated advice I want to clarify: starting your baby on a sweet food or fruit does not make them prone to having a sweet tooth. Apples, pears, and bananas are perfectly acceptable first foods. When it comes to choosing which foods to start with, a service like Little Spoon, which delivers fresh food made with organic ingredients right to your door, can take a lot of the guesswork out of it (not to mention save you a ton of time!). We don’t want to toot our own horn or anything, but here at Little Spoon, we’ve sort of perfected this whole fresh baby food thing – you’ve got enough to worry about, let us make this one thing a bit easier for you!

Pick a schedule that works for you and aim for a time of day when they’re the most alert and happy. You can start with a one solid meal after their morning bottle or nursing session, and one meal after their evening bottle or boob sesh. At first, your baby will probably only eat 2-4 tablespoons in one sitting, and that is totally normal! Sometimes, they might not be interested at all (also totally normal). It’s also a good idea to intro a new food earlier in the day and on a weekday; if your baby has a reaction to the food, you want your pediatrician to be reachable right away!

Most of the food will likely end up on their chin and shirt and all over the highchair tray—they’re still learning to control that tongue thrust. Don’t be surprised if your baby shows immediate dislikes or preferences to certain foods (even babies can have favorites). But don’t stop offering the foods your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy; it can take babies as many as 15-20 tries before they take to a new food. Variety is really important, even with babies just starting out on solids! That’s why here at Little Spoon, we have a varied menu of different flavor and texture combinations, and send each BabyBlend in pairs, so there’s always plenty to keep offering. Patience, and a really good stain remover, are definitely required when you introduce solids to baby. This is a fun stage, mama. Enjoy every spoonful.

One Bite at a Time,

Is This Normal

CBD Curious?

Dear Is This Normal,

I’ve been hearing a lot about CBD lately, but I’m not sure what it’s all about! I’m currently pregnant, and am having a hard time with nausea and back pain. A friend recommended CBD oil, but I’m really unclear about whether or not I can take it during pregnancy. I’m not even sure I feel comfortable talking to my doctor about it! Can you break it down for me? What do I need to know about it? Is it safe during pregnancy?

CBD Curious 

Dear CBD Curious,

I totally understand your curiosity! CBD is everywhere right now. It’s the hot “new” thing, being used to help alleviate a range of ailments from nausea and anxiety to sore muscles and chronic pain. Personally, I’m a fan, and have found it helps with my general anxiety and stress.

CBD isn’t really new—cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years. But as more and more states hop on the legalization train, we’re seeing a huge uptick in the promotion and use of CBD as an alternative therapy or supplement. BUT, and it’s a big but: there’s a lot we don’t know about cannabis-derived CBD, especially when it comes to the effects of CBD on pregnancy and a developing fetus. 

CBD is short for cannabidiol, an oil made from extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and diluting it with a neutral oil. It is a chemical compound of the cannabis plant, but it’s not the part of plant that gets you high. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it’s not psychoactive. Which is why it’s so popular as a medicinal supplement! You can take it regularly without worrying about mood changes, decreased motor movement, or addiction. 

If you smoke or ingest weed to get high, that’s the THC at work, not the CBD. CBD has been used in clinical trials to treat everything from epilepsy to PTSD. Nowadays, you can get CBD in pretty much any form: oils, tinctures, gummies, lotions, food, and beverages. Your friend uses it, celebrities use it, it’s everywhere! 

But, you’re not just anyone. You’re pregnant! And that changes things. You can google CBD and pregnancy and you will, no doubt, find a bunch of articles telling you it’s natural and non-psychoactive so it’s totally fine to use during pregnancy. But while I am a big proponent of CBD and weed (generally speaking), I’m going to be the Debbie Downer here. The problem is, when it comes to CBD and pregnancy, we have next to no research or data on whether or not CBD is safe to use during pregnancy. 

There is no conclusive evidence in the scientific community that states it’s safe. Now, there’s no evidence that says it’s unsafe, either! But most experts almost universally agree: without research, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Avoid ingesting CBD during pregnancy. This is one of those times you want to be EXTRA careful, and if you don’t know how something may affect your pregnancy and developing fetus, don’t take the chance.

Listen, I would still advise you to talk about it with your doctor! You should feel comfortable enough with your OB to talk about anything. While ingesting CBD is not recommended during pregnancy, some experts say that topical creams can be safely used to treat sore muscles and inflammation, since the compound doesn’t enter your bloodstream. Some doulas and midwives actually use CBD-infused creams and lotions on their clients during labor. Talk to your doc about it, but my advice as it stands today? Skip ingesting the CBD oils/gummies/teas/sprays during your pregnancy until there’s more we know.

Best to CBDon’t for Now,

Is This Normal

Dichotomy of Single Motherhood

When she’s with me for a whole day with no breaks, I want to hide, when she’s not with me I’m depressed and grumpy. The dichotomy of single motherhood.

Dear Single Mom.

Mama, when I say that I get exactly what you shared with me here, I mean I GET IT. I get it in a way that a lot of parents with partners cannot possibly understand. Single mom issues are so different. We talk a lot about parenthood, and motherhood in particular, being the hardest job there is. But we don’t go far enough with that assessment. Yes, parenting and mothering is incredibly difficult. But the problems single mothers face are on a whoooooole other level.

I’m going to share a bit about my own story here, so you know where I’m coming from. I’ve mentioned my girls in other columns. I have two wonderful, amazing spitfires whom I love and cherish with my whole being. When my partner and I started our family, I didn’t think for a second that it wouldn’t play out exactly as I envisioned.  But life has a funny (and rude) way of not going according to our plans. 

My marriage ended (quite unexpectedly) and I found myself trying to figure out how to raise my girls on my own. I was IT for my girls. Twenty-four hours a day, six to seven  days a week. I did it all, all of the time. I did it without breaks. I cried myself to sleep every night and woke up in tears most mornings. All of the joy was gone. I couldn’t enjoy the time we had together even though all we had was time together. After being their end-all and be-all for six or more straight days, them being with their dad was anything but a relief. It felt like a piece of myself was missing. I was completely lost without them.

It took me a long time to find a balance. But, I bring good news: there is balance! It’s OK to “turn off” mom on the days you don’t have to be mom. The adjustment of going from having your children with you all the time to being alone is tough. You may need to get reacquainted with yourself. Spend the day in bed, reading and binge-watching your fav shows! Hook up with some girlfriends and go to brunch or get your nails done.You might find that spending that time on you will make you a better mom, like I did. And that, in turn, benefits you AND your little girl.

You were so right when you called it a dichotomy. Motherhood, single or not, is full of stark contrasts. But the two parts of your very different worlds have one thing in common: you. I cannot overstate how beneficial it can be for both of you to use the time  that she’s not with you and use it to find and nurture yourself! 

I’m holding you in my heart, mama. I see you. I feel you. I hear you. You can do this. You ARE doing this. 

From One Single Mom to Another,

Is This Normal

I’m Constantly Worrying About Milestones

Hi Is This Normal,

Is it normal that I worry so much about my baby meeting all the CDC milestones? Is it me or are all the other kids super advanced? Why does my neighbor’s son walk at eight months but my daughter hasn’t crawled yet?
 
Milestone Maker
 

Dear Milestone Maker,

It’s TOTALLY normal to compare your kid’s milestone markers to other babies. It’s human nature to compare our kids to other kids to see how ours are matching up!  We compare ourselves to others in so many aspects of our lives—career, appearance, finances—and measure our babies by the same standards. So, yes, it’s 100% normal to worry that your baby isn’t doing all the same stuff on the same timeline as her baby peers. The thing is, comparing your baby to someone else’s baby is like comparing apples to sushi. No two babies are alike—not even identical twins! This was never more evident to me than when I had my second daughter. I remember thinking, “Two girls, cool! I’ve done this before, second time around is going to be caaaaaake.” And my children literally could not have been more different if they’d tried. It was like I’d gone back to Parenting 101, except I was cockier so the failures and letdowns stung way more. Every time the baby did something later than her sister, I worried about her. Every time she did something earlier, I worried about her sister! Our pediatrician had to sit me down and tell me to stop worrying, because despite being born of the same parents and nurtured in the same household, my kids were their own separate beings, independent of one another. They’re 9 and 5 now, and I’m still learning this lesson, ha ha.

Now, I’m going to level with you: not all those other kids are super advanced. I’d wager a guess that most of them are just totally normal, developing babies. Because guess what? Parents don’t brag about the normal, ordinary stuff their kids do. That’s not going to win them any accolades at Tiny Gym. They brag about the one-off stuff, the seemingly extraordinary stuff that they can use to set their kids apart from the herd. And you know what else? They exaggerate about milestones … a lot. I’m sure you’ve done this, too. An excited, first-time mom can jump the gun and hear “MAMA” when really, all her 5-month-old was trying to do was poop. You really have to take every brag and boast from parents with a grain of salt, just keep that in mind.

But you may have very valid concerns about your little one’s developments, and I don’t want to downplay that at all! There’s nothing worse than having a genuine concern dismissed. If you need some reassurance, schedule a sit down with your pediatrician. The CDC milestone guidelines are just that: guidelines. They are not requirements, and they are not set in stone. Some kids sit up before they roll over. Others walk without crawling first (seriously). Every baby is different! I know the whole development-thing is an anxiety swamp full of murky what ifs to get bogged down by, but unless your pediatrician seems worried, I want to gently encourage you to not focus so much on the guidelines or what other babies are doing before yours. She’s working on her own timeline, which is exactly right for her. And don’t worry that your eight-month-old isn’t walking. Once she starts it’s a whole new (incredibly stressful) ballgame.

Doing Things On Her Own Time, And That’s Just Fine.

Is This Normal