The dog waits patiently, lying under the table, eyes fixated on your hand as you move peas from the high-chair tray to your mouth. I watch you in wonder, amazed at your ability to feed yourself. You are determined and focused as you work to pincer a pea with your chubby fingers. This is an intense effort on your part. Sometimes you take a handful and, fist open, push several squished peas into your mouth. Other times you methodically pick up one, pop it into your mouth, swish it from side to side, sometimes swallowing and sometimes spitting it back out. I offer you a pea in my own fingers, waiting for your mouth to open. Like a baby bird, you accept my offering. Next you grab a handful of grated apple, turning it over and examining it carefully. You look at me, then the apple, then the dog. The dog looks hopeful. For some unknown reason, you decide no apple today and fling it over the edge of your chair toward the waiting dog. Yesterday you loved grated apple! It’s your choice…no apple at this meal. I trust that if I give you foods that are wholesome, you’ll eat what you want, when you want, and I know that my milk continues to give you most of your calories, keeping you healthy and well.
I was so tempted to start feeding you solids a few months ago. You would lay cuddled in my lap while I ate, watching me put food into my mouth, drooling a little, eyes moving back and forth watching my fork as it traveled from the plate to my mouth. Surely you were ready? But you couldn’t sit up yet, one of the signs of readiness for solids, so I waited and now there is no stopping you. Every few days you try something new (and so does the dog). Sweet potato seems to be your favourite with avocado a close second.
Sometimes I don’t know if you are simply playing or actually eating. You mush, squish, toss and your little face gets coated in food making me wonder if any actually gets into your mouth. Until it’s time to change your diaper…then I know! No longer the non-offensive smell of breastmilk stool but a stinkier version with bits of undigested food and streaks of colour. I feel like a real mother now…examining baby poop!
Yesterday was fun when we tried a spoon. One spoon for me and one spoon for you. And eventually two spoons for you, one in each hand, when you insisted on holding mine. I’d put a bit of food on the spoon and hold it to your mouth. Sometimes we traded spoons and you would move the spoon in your hand to your mouth. And I loved how you offered me a bite, putting your spoon to my lips. Mashed carrots for mama, delicious!
But the very best part of all happens when I lift you from your high-chair and cuddle you close to breastfeed. You finish your lunch at my breast. My milk was your appetizer before the peas and it’s your dessert now that you are in my arms. I still provide you with the very best of the best. My milk is filled with antibacterial and antiviral agents, it changes to meet your changing needs, it promotes good brain growth, and best of all, it’s a relationship between us, keeping us connected and bonded.
I watch your eyes flutter close, bits of lunch stuck in your hair, your belly filled with fresh green peas and mama’s milk. Sleep well, little one. Food is fun and so are you.