We are just over a month away from that magical six-month mark when many people introduce solid food. We may wait a little longer, due to all the trouble we've had with food sensitivity, but either way it won't be long before he gets his first bite.
I'm kind of stuck, though. There are two schools of baby-feeding which both really appeal to me.
First is the real food way, as explained by Nourishing Traditions. I've seen similar suggestions online, from a "primal food" blog, for instance. These people suggest that grains, however popular, aren't the best food for a baby whose GI tract is still developing. Babies don't really digest grains very well, and they tend to cause constipation. Rice cereal, oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. aren't the best thing to start a baby off on. Instead, they recommend egg yolk and pureed meats first -- these animal foods are more digestible, more similar to breast milk, and more nutritious. They are also high in iron -- which is important, as breastmilk is low in iron and a baby's iron stores only last six or eight months.
Second is the baby-led weaning way. This method teaches that babies should feed themselves from the very beginning: no purees at all! You wait until the baby is reaching for food on his own, and then you give him things he is able to pick up and eat. Cheerios and soft vegetables are popular. I remember my little brother would chomp on a great big carrot, scraping off tiny flecks of it with his two teeth. Choking isn't a big danger (though of course you should always supervise a beginning eater) because babies will push food out of their mouths with their tongues at the age when their gag reflex is undeveloped. The pincer grasp appears around the time the tongue-extrusion reflex disappears and the gag reflex develops -- so when the baby is able to feed himself, it is safe to let him have food. Feeding purees with a spoon can force a baby to take food into his mouth before he's ready, and so choking is more likely.
This system really appeals to me because it allows a baby to learn to eat instead of having food ladled into him by someone else. Babies are born with a good sense of appetite -- which is why you can't overfeed a breastfed baby who nurses on demand. I would like to preserve that instinct the best I can. I myself rarely eat when I'm not hungry, but many people are in the habit of just munching away because it's "time to eat" or because the food is there. I think that attitude is encouraged by spoonfeeding, while baby-led weaning encourages an attitude of eating when you're hungry.
Here's the problem: egg yolk and pureed meat are hardly the kinds of things a baby can feed himself. (I'm also not going to introduce egg yolk too early, as eggs seem to be an issue for baby when I eat them. Most likely it's the more allergenic white that is the problem, but I don't want to take chances.) But -- as I know from experience -- vegetables are not easily digested. (If you've ever changed a six-month-old's diaper, I don't think I need to say any more.) Neither are grain foods like Cheerios. Do I give him well-cooked pieces of beef and chicken? Or is it okay to give dairy so young? Or are there are any vegetables that digest more easily than others?
All right, real-food types, baby-led-weaning types, and everyone else: what do I feed baby first? In time, of course, he'll be eating what we eat, but what are good starter foods? I want foods that are digestible (so as close as possible to breast milk), hypoallergenic (for a boy who seems to react to eggs, tomatoes, onions, and cabbage SO FAR), and easy to pick up and gum on. Any ideas? Of course I'm going to make all his food myself, so anything you can think of is a possibility.
Tell me, what should I put into this adorable little mouth?