Doctors’ recommendations seem to change every few years, and keeping up with the latest information is a challenge. Babies demand a lot of attention and don’t leave you much “me” time for research. With twins, I’m constantly looking for hands-free solutions and anything that supports multi-tasking. Baby-led weaning is the latest trend in baby-feeding methods and seems like a good choice for us. Essentially, the child is allowed to mash food into its mouth with all the grace of a drunken pirate eating for the first time after four hungry months at sea. While a particularly messy approach, one of the benefits is the child learns to feed itself more quickly than if it is spoon-fed.
In current government-promoted recommendations, babies are to start solid foods at six months. Our lactation consultant recommended four months, as twins can use the extra calories to keep up with their extra-steep growth curve. I admit, I dragged my heels on that recommendation. But, this past week after a weigh-in at the doctor’s office, I was told the girls are ready for solid food. I suppose shoving everything into their mouths, including their own feet, is a sign this is the case. And so at five months of age, it became clear I needed to stop procrastinating and start the twins on solid food.
Here is where I’d love to say that I started with a homemade, organic, small-batch baby muffin, lovingly baked in my own oven. Or perhaps a slow-roasted unseasoned sweet potato, sliced carefully into non-choking-hazard sizes. I did not start with either of these things. This morning I decided I’d kick things off with something easy: the organic iron-fortified oatmeal I’d purchased. But, instead, I started with packaged baby rice rusks. After putting the twins into their high chairs, attaching the 75 safety straps, wedging them carefully upright with receiving blankets, and snapping a photo of them grinning goofily around the room from their new vantage point, they began to seem restless with no food in front of them. I was fiddling with washing their baby dishes, which clearly should have been prepared in advance, but weren’t. And so I made the snap decision to rip open a two-pack of rusks and hand one to each twin.
To my surprise, they grasped the crackers with their hands, shoved them into their mouths, and proceeded to devour them as if they’d been starved for the first five months of their lives. And just like that, the babies had tasted their first food. A packaged, big name brand, processed, rice and potato cracker, sweetened with pear juice.
Of course, I took photos in amazement. I usually post these photos to a social media site I use to share my daily baby happenings with friends and family, but I hesitated with these. What would other mothers think of the twins’ first meal? Would they judge me for starting ahead of the recommended six months? Did I need to write a long-winded caption explaining my choice of food? Would I be quietly chastised for offering this baby junk food ahead of iron-fortified oatmeal or banana or organic free-range eggs?
I ultimately decided documenting the memory was more important than the judgement I might receive. I’m sure it’s not the first of my parenting choices to be judged, and it definitely won’t be the last. Unfortunately, these two little innocent humans will experience a lifetime of food-choice judgement as well. I figured we all might as well suck it up and do what’s right for us, in the moment, and the judges can stuff their pie-holes with rice rusks if they don’t like it. Once the twins were cleaned up, changed, and down for their nap, I posted the photos. And then I went online and ordered a book full of recipes for organic, small-batch baby muffins.