Saturday, August 26, 2006


I hesitate as I write this entry -- the discussion of introducing solids, I have found, is a loaded topic (not unlike the topic of breastfeeding).

Some people feel it is best to wait until the baby is 6 months old (to avoid food allergies and decrease chances of obesity later in life), while others believe it is best to introduce solids when the baby (1) can sit upright with little support, (2) shows interest in food and (3) is at least four months of age.

At Chase's 4-month pediatrician visit, I was told "it's time to start introducing solids" (I felt like I had graduated and was being handed a diploma). Herr (spelling of Herr is intentional - it's German) Doctor recommended I start with carrots, then potatoes, etc. He told me to try a new food each week and look for any sign of allergies. He also recommended introducing a bit of baby cereal as well, once Chase had the hang of "solids." And that was it. He made it sound so easy.

I laughed as I mused what the NHS would say ... "Start with mushy peas, then fish and chips, then Guinness - but be sure to limit it to only one Guinness a day..." - haha.

I figured that if Chase's pediatrician was laid back about it, I would be too (those who know me know that it's nearly impossible for me to be laid back about anything). I believed I was equipped with enough basic knowledge (no sugar, salt, honey, milk, strawberries soft cheese, blue cheese, peanut butter) and common sense (mush it up really well before feeding it to baby) to start "Operation: Introduce solids."

About two weeks in, I was feeling pretty confident, but I still picked up a book that was given to me as a gift (written in America), about how to introduce solids. Since moving to Europe, I have developed a nagging feeling that there is something more I should know (about just about everything) that the Europeans (1) forget to mention, (2) figure I should know, (3) just don't know, or (4) just don't care (see entry for DHA).

Well, I have to say - the book, "Super Baby Food," written by Ruth Yaron, scares me. Sure it has everything a mom needs to know (first aid, meal planners, recipes, nutrition, portion sizes, and more), but it is so packed with information that I'm terrified I'm going to forget things - or do something wrong. I learned, for example, that carrots and potatoes are not recommended as a first food, that wheat is a high risk food, that all fruit should be boiled before it's given to a baby, and that semolina is a high risk allergen (so why do the stores here sell semolina baby food?), that foods should be introduced at the same time each day, that water should follow each introduction, and what allergies to foods may look like (scary stuff) -- and I'm only about a quarter of the way through it.

And, to make things a little more complicated/confusing, add in the fact I'm living in a foreign country, where I don't speak the language and I can barely read the ingredients on boxes (even though they are kind enough to write it in French, Italian and German) ... plus, all measurements are milligrams/grams and no detail is given about the % as it relates to daily allowance.

So once again, I find myself straddling the line (or should I say pond) between America and Europe. As I have not lived in the US for three years, I'm starting to appreciate the laissez-faire attitude that comes with living in Europe, but I certainly don't want to jeopardize my daughter and want to make sure she has a safe and enjoyable introduction to solid food.

After much deliberation between the European and American way of life, I've decided I will read, and re-read this book, memorize it, build out a meal calendar, chart Chase's responses to each food and present it to Herr Doctor at Chase's next visit -- at which point he will look at me like I'm a "crazy American" - but I can take it - I've received the look a lot since I moved to Europe.

I guess you can take the American out of America, but you can't take the America out of the American.

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