This was a large step for all of us. At the sixth month, we took Jonah to the doctor’s office and he gave the ok to give Jonah something other than formula. For some strange reason, we were fired up about this. It was like the doctor had told us we could now collect $25 with every diaper we changed or something. Or that we were guaranteed free college for Jonah or that we could all immediately go out for a steak dinner. We couldn’t control ourselves, mostly because we had no idea what was ahead.
We did know that feeding him more “solid” food translated into more work and more mess, but we didn’t care.
We just knew it was more!
We were elated that we could now feed Jonah rice cereal at 6:30am. And then we could switch to oatmeal. And then to green beans to squash to sweet potatoes and then to carrots. Yes, Carrots! And then, the big time. Yep, we knew that fruit was on the menu and that Jonah was our main customer. WE COULD NOT WAIT. We had lost our ever-lovin’ minds. We had no clue!
The first morning that Jonah was going to dine on rice cereal, I was up about twenty minutes ahead, reading the directions on the rice cereal box like I was responsible for constructing an H-Bomb or something.
I was focused.
I was ready.
I was clueless.
About the time I had the bottle and the rice cereal mixed and ready to go, I heard Jonah’s little grunt from the other room. He was ready, too.
I decided to leave his pajamas on because I thought that he’d be cold when I fed him. I was thrilled because I put him in the high chair for the first time and affixed the detachable tray with expectation.
As I began feeding him his bottle, I wondered how he was going to eat the food as well. I didn’t know whether I should give him the bottle first, then the cereal, the cereal first then the bottle or an alternation of the two. I hadn’t been where a baby had his first bite of real food, so I was in the dark.
I made it up as I went along. Like most people, I thought God made airplanes so that mothers and fathers could do the “airplane” thing with the food. I gave it a try. I made the sound, moved the spoon full of rice cereal around in an airplane motion, and moved the spoon toward his mouth.
He was excited, he was motivated, and he was moving when I tried to feed him. The spoon got to his mouth just in time for Jonah to move his head. My first attempt at feeding Jonah real food resulted in an ear full of rice cereal.
Just because I just spackled Jonah’s ear shut did not mean I was disappointed. Sure, I could have done it better, but this was our first time. So I tried it again. This time, my effort resulted in Jonah snorting a little rice cereal. I tried it again. In the hairline. I tried it again. Inside his pajamas. I tried it again. In his armpit. I tried it again. Between his toes.
So, I tried another method. I like to call it the bottle-and-stuff method of eating. Here’s how it goes: I start Jonah off on the bottle and then quickly take it out of his mouth with my left hand when he begins a good rhythm. With my right hand, I would stuff a spoon full of rice cereal in his mouth.
The stuffing is the most important part, requiring the correct force with the correct level of infiltration. In other words, I needed to gauge how hard I was going to stick the spoon into his open trap while noting how far in the spoon would go. If I didn’t put it in enough, Jonah wouldn’t eat it. If I stuck the spoon too far into the mouth, he would gag. Either way, my boy was going to eat about half of what I prepared.
Which brings me to a few revelations:
#1: The boy needs to eat naked from now on. (If not fully naked, a diaper is the most he should wear). That first time, I left his pajamas on, and he came out looking like a furry rice ball. It got all over.
#2: Bath time comes after feeding. Although he could get messy with the bottle, the real food caused minor explosions of food to fly all over. He didn’t so much eat it as drool it. Bathing Jonah after he eats is like showering after painting a room—you find paint on body parts that you never thought you’d have paint on.
#3: This food isn’t really solid food. I’d never really looked at baby food, but I noticed that no chewing is required. That’s good, because home-boy only has gums at the moment and those don’t really help with barbecued chicken breast.
#4: Just because it’s on his face does not mean that I can’t scrape it off and put it back in his mouth. Same goes for food on his chest, arms and in his belly button. Waste not, want not. I had times where I was done with the baby food jar, but I still scraped four or five spoonfuls off of his torso.
At this rate, I needed Jonah’s skin to be able to absorb the rice cereal like a Brazilian tree frog because his mouth was not cooperating. Jonah was not interested in eating this stuff.
It wasn’t the bottle or the boob, so he didn’t care about it.