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Sunshine’s reached the grand age of 5 months (and a bit) and so it’s time for us to add something to M.’s magical milk.

Opinions differ widely about WHEN you should actually start to switch from purely milk to “solids”. The World Health Organisation says that babies should be breast-fed/bottle-fed for 6 months. Other guides says it’s ok after 4 months. So what is true? Hm. This is a problem we’ve been dealing with recently. The WHO recommendation is for the whole world, based on the various standards of hygiene found across the planet.

However, in the “Western” world, you can be pretty safe, it would appear, from 4 months onwards (that is to say when the baby is 4 months-old). We decided to go for the middle road and chose 5 months.

So what DO you give a baby as the first meal? (Note that we’re only 9 days into this, so this is all purely experience-based and will be continued! However, I have done a lot of research over the past weeks, as, of course, I want to get it right too!!) Well, much as you’d like to have baby share your favourite meal with you and down a large portion of lasagne, it doesn’t work like that!

Babies’ digestive systems are not, at first, equipped to take the foods we eat. Cow’s milk is not an option as it contains proteins a baby is unequipped to break down. Sugars are not possible, honey contains dangerous enzymes…the list goes on, making you wonder what you can do!

If you’re a multi-national family like we are, then you’ll also get conflicting information about what to do. It does indeed seem that different countries and cultures say different things. After all, you can’t honestly imagine Indian mothers being told to avoid the use of spice, or Alpine dwellers avoiding the milk from their own cows.

As such, we decided to stick to the rules here in Germany and use vegetables. You’ve got to chose your vegetables carefully too. Remember that mother’s milk is pretty sugary and sweet, so you’ve got to try and imitate that AND avoid constipation through excess fibre. As such, you’re going to be looking at things like parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and the like. You’ll also want to start to introduce water into Bubba’s diet and wean them off of milk.

We started with parsnip, steamed and then with a little extra water added. I turned that into a purée and then Sunshine got it. He took about 5 half-spoonfuls on the first day, 8 the next, 11 the one after that. Even though we might love variety, babies haven’t got a clue what that is, and so you need to try maintain some kind of consistency (remember, they’ve had milk several times a day, every day, since birth). You’ve also really got to avoid seasoning the food straight off, and salt is, sadly, a no-no. Remember that all this will evolve and change over time and, before you know it, you’ll be wiping tomato sauce off the cheek of a little romper who has just enjoyed some lasagne!

We moved on to pumpkin (as the books over here say it’s a good choice). Neither M. or I really eat pumpkin, and Sunshine turned his nose up at it too. We persevered for a couple of days, but he really was fed up with it. I then moved back to the parsnip, and chucked in some potato too. Once again, he wasn’t thrilled, probably as mashed boiled potato with no salt, no butter and all the goodies, is pretty dang dull.

However, today I seem to have hit the jackpot. Carrot and potato, steamed again, with a drop of oil to aid consistency. Gosh, Sunshine ate the whole portion and even had some seconds! This is pretty neat. Of course, we’ll be giving him that for a couple more days and then freezing the rest (you should avoid storing puréed veg for more than 48 hours). A friend gave us a tip of putting the purée into an ice cube holder, so that you can get what you need out in “bite-sized” portions.

The next step is to add some meat, which I’ll probably be doing on Tuesday – information will follow on that!

About a month after introducing lunch, you should move on to supper, which, over here, is suggested as milk and semolina. That is pretty pappy and palatable and offers variation as you can maybe add a tiny pinch of cinnamon after a while. From there, it’s an afternoon meal. Over here, they suggest some kind of cereal flakes with fruit. Of course, I’ll be in touch about that when we get to it.

It’s all quite an experience, and also a chance for us chaps to get involved. There is little magic in steaming or boiling some carrots for 10 minutes. Sure, remember to get the fibrous core out of such root veggies, but that’s about it. Get your stick blender out, make a beautiful purée and watch the offspring get used to something YOU’VE created. 🙂

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