Feeding the baby is an event in our house, not unlike attending a Gallagher show, where food of some kind is likely to hit you in the face, even if sitting in the cheap seats, aka the couch. For those who don’t know who Gallagher is, I’ve included a short clip below. Kind of cheesy humor, but fun when the hammer comes out about 1 minute into the act.
Our daughter, Autumn, is also like a sprinkler with the milk. She would spit up before, during, and after each feeding, and if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time you’d get covered. The doctors explained it like this: There’s a small piece of muscle tissue that covers the baby’s stomach and keeps the food from coming back up. When the baby eats, the stomach expands and that muscle can no longer cover the stomach hole completely, hence the spit up. All that medical jargon didn’t make much sense to me, but I know it probably didn’t help things when I threw her up in the air in between bottles. She always seemed to like it though.
We started out feeding her every couple of hours, one or two ounces at a time. Then, as her appetite grew, she would drink more and more at each feeding, which of course, would extend into all hours of the night. There’s nothing quite like waking up bleary-eyed at 4 am, after just an hour or two of barely restful sleep, to heat up baby’s bottle (again) and get it in her mouth before the crying reaches deafening decibels.
Then after a few months, we began feeding her solid foods, mostly pureed vegetables, fruit, and rice. By my count, she’s eaten her weight a thousand times over, and not a drop of it entered her mouth without her first getting her hands on it.
Now, we’ve settled into a nice routine where she eats solids three times a day, and takes the bottle in between and at night. Through all of this, I’ve come to learn there are 3 Universal Truths of Feeding Your Baby.
1. Distractions Don’t Work
You might think that having something for your child to play with will help keep her hands out of the food. That assumption is WRONG! First, whatever you give her will ultimately end up in her mouth, which if you already started feeding her, is covered in food – as is her face. That means the remote control you gave her is now covered in food too, and no longer functions properly. I’m just guessing here, but Samsung probably doesn’t design their remotes to work with avocado and pea juice infusion.
You also don’t want to give her anything that is more interesting than the colorful food you are feeding her because that will just make her bored of eating much quicker. Read our article on a list of household items pecking order for information about what matters most to baby. In general, stay away from shiny things like watches, big people silverware, and money clips. All bad ideas.
2. Food on the Plate Does NOT Equal Food Consumed
In our house, we use the three fourths rule. This rule states that only three fourths of the food prepared for baby will actually be consumed by baby. The rest of it succumbs to two well known phenomenons called Food Accumulation and Food Migration, shown in the picture below.
Food accumulation is the excess food that piles up on your baby’s chin. We invited several world-renowned scientists to study our daughter for two weeks this summer. What they found was startling. Apparently, the volume of food that accumulates on her chin during a feeding is constant, and measured in tablespoons, it always equals the number 1, divided by the number pi, plus the square root of her age. It can be expressed by the formula FA = 1/pi + sqrt (age).
Food migration happens when a particle of accumulated food breaks away from the others and moves to some other part of the baby’s face, or onto the high chair itself. Unfortunately, the scientists had no explanation for this phenomenon, and left our house when some bravocado ended up on one of their pocket protector calculators. (Bravocado is broccoli mixed with avocado – in case you were wondering!)
When I eat, all the food goes into my mouth, and if by chance, something falls on my shirt I just wipe it off with a napkin. If it falls on the floor, well, there’s the 5 second rule – after that the dog can have it. That’s why it was hard getting used to the fact that babies are so tough to clean, especially after experiencing the first two universal truths and the mess they create. Our daughter has at least three chins, and one double secret chin compartment that seems to collect everything that can’t fit in the first three folds. I lost my keys once and found it tucked under her chin when she was sleeping. I swear.
You need to do everything you can to keep that area clean, because once the food accumulation and migration finds its way into the chins your feeding experience goes from a quick 15 minute meal to an hour long ordeal. You have to take the bib off without getting food flicked onto the walls. Then you gave to get her to the changing table to get undressed, wipe her down, then get her dressed again, and hopefully in the process you didn’t miss any food that might have spilled over onto the changing table because that will always find its way onto the new clothes, requiring you to change the baby another time.
While the picture here might look like Autumn is cleaning her own hands, don’t be fooled. She swiped that napkin from me as I was trying to wet it and clean the table. Soon after this picture was snapped, Autumn put the napkin in her mouth and tried eating that too. I had to dig out the mushy mess out with my finger.
The 3 Universal truths of feeding baby get me every time!
If you have a funny story about feeding post it below. If you’ve found a method of feeding your baby that disproves these 3 universal truths I’d like to hear about it too. Seriously. Please.