It has been six weeks since I last updated on Oliver’s progress with solid foods. At that time, Oliver was still primarily tasting and sucking on foods, and had not yet lost the protective gag reflex that prevents babies from swallowing foods before they are ready to do so. He was eating only one meal with us each day — supper on weekdays and brunch on weekends — and was essentially still obtaining all of his nutritional needs from breast milk.
About a month ago, we noticed a sudden decrease in incidences of gagging, and Oliver began to eat small, but observable quantities of soft foods (observable in terms of both intake and, er… “output”). The decrease in gagging coincided with Oliver being able to pull himself, unaided, from prone or supine lying into a seated position.
With five teeth, Oliver is now able to ingest food either by biting it or by scraping it along his teeth. He “chews” food with his gums.
I recently added a mid-day snack to Oliver’s schedule, in order to give him additional opportunities to take in solids and develop his self-feeding skills. We would like to eliminate his 11:00 P.M. “dream feed” in the next couple of months (as the final stage of sleep training; not as a stage of weaning), and this will be predicated on Oliver consuming sufficient amounts of solid food to carry him through a 12-hour period of sleep.
There have also been a number of behavioural changes since my last update. Oliver has started to delight in deliberately dropping and pushing his food on the floor, pounding his food on the table and splashing his hands in spilled water. We give him only one or two pieces of food at a time in order to minimize the temptation for him to discard it.
He has also learned how to blow bubbles in his water — which is great, since I’ve been trying to teach him this skill at the pool; not so great when it’s done at the table.
Oliver has become acutely aware of his ability to elicit reactions from others, so we are careful not to react to these — and any other — undesirable mealtime behaviours. This means not flinching and not saying “oops” or “uh-oh” when food falls on the floor, which requires incredible restraint on our part! Hopefully these behaviours will lose their novelty when he becomes more interested in actually eating his food.
Aside from not giving reinforcement or attention to the behaviours we would like to eliminate, we have also been careful to keep our language as neutral as possible when it comes to introducing foods or responding to Oliver’s reactions to foods. For example, instead of labelling foods as tasty or delicious, we comment on their more objective qualities, for example, “Cucumber is refreshing,” or “Steak is juicy.” When he indicates he is not interested in eating something, we don’t say, “Oh, you don’t like it?” and instead say things like, “I guess you don’t want avocado today.”
Oliver sits nicely at the table for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes (sometimes even longer), which is age-appropriate, and enough time for J and me to enjoy our meals. He is still eating a one hundred percent Paleo diet, and we have no plans to introduce grains, dairy, legumes or treats anytime in the near future. We just don’t see it as necessary, and he has no idea what he’s missing. We will, however, have to rein in our own “cheats,” since Oliver is keenly interested in everything he sees us put into our mouths. That can only be a good thing for me and J — we need all the help and motivation we can get! 🙂