Baby CJ’s been studying us as we eat for the past couple of weeks. Because he’s often strapped onto our torso with the sling, it’s almost as if he’s an extra body part, and he’s awfully close to the food as it’s lifted from plate to mouth. His little head swings and his eyes grow wide, and his mouth opens as the food enters–someone else’s mouth. I may be projecting, but he looks kinda … hungry. Or at any rate fascinated. I had planned to wait till he was a full six months to introduce any kind of solid food, but after observing this hungry baby phenomenon for the past couple of weeks, I decided to give feeding a try. It is an awful lot of extra work. Breastfeeding is so simple, basic, fast, and by this point, not at all messy. We’re old pros now. (Breastfeeding at earlier stages in a baby’s life can sometimes be none of the above). It seems like whenever we get the hang of something, life invents another challenge.
So F and I headed uptown after school drop-off this morning, and bought a box of organic rice cereal. We came home and I pumped some milk while baby CJ worked the other side, and then we dug the high chair out of the attic, and mixed up a tablespoon of cereal with some breastmilk, broke out a bib, strapped him in, and proferred the spoon. I’ve done this a few times before, and the result is often disappointing, as I warned F (who was extremely excited, and imagined herself wielding the spoon). The tongue comes out, the facial expression says “disgusting” and the bowl’s contents eventually work their way onto every surface surrounding baby, including baby’s outside; with absolutely nothing swallowed. Both A and F refused solids till seven or eight months. But somehow, they didn’t look quite so hungry.
To F’s delight, baby CJ had no qualms at his first taste. He’s still working out the tongue and the swallowing, but he took in a lot more than expected. He cleaned the bowl, and then sucked the tray. Most went in. I’m proud of him, and glad that I tried feeding, since he’s clearly ready, but also know this will complicate life. The baby food grinder is out of storage once more, there will be extra bowls and spoons and bibs to wash, and a careful menu to introduce over time, as we watch for potential allergies. But he wants to be one of the gang, and he’s working so hard to get there. Babies. Their instinct is to grow up! No wonder people are always delighted to catch sight of an infant–they’re rare. We spend a vast proportion of our lives large and unportable and complicated–and, let’s face it, not nearly so cute.