Just like with everything related to the quads, spoon feeds have been a lot of trial and error. We’ve been working on spoon feeds for about a month now and the babies are finally getting the hang of it. They now take in enough calories from spoon feeds to reduce their formula intake. Along the way, I learned a few things to help make it all a bit easier.
Try, Try, Try Again!
Pretty much every time we introduce a new food, one or more of the babies rejects it. The first time they tasted avocado, Harper began screaming as if he were in pain and Mason yacked up carrots when he first tasted them. For years, my Dad has touted that you may need to expose babies and children to new foods up to 18 times before they decide whether they like them or not. I don’t know about the magical number 18, but one time is never enough to make a determination. Usually on the second try a new food seems significantly more appealing to the babies. Naturally they have favorites, but eventually eat pretty much anything we dish up. On the top of the favorites list are bananas, butternut squash, pears, and mango.
Mix it Up
Once the babies developed a larger repertoire of safe foods, we began introducing hybrids. It really helps make some of the less favorable foods more appetizing to them. For example, Mason choked up plain carrots, but carrots + apple were a winner! He practically cried for me to feed this combo to him faster. Some favorite hybrids are avocado + mango, apple + banana, avocado + banana, and apple + carrot. As they expand their palates, we will have new creations to try.
Even though we like to mix up hybrids, I keep all pureed food pure. First, I blend up a single veggie or fruit in the ninja then pour it into silicone ice cube trays (each cube is one ounce). When they are frozen, I pop them into gallon size bags and label them. Voila! If I want a baby food cocktail, I pull out whatever cubes of puree I want, toss them into a bowl together, thaw them, then stir well. It leaves a lot of flexibility to what we serve.
Use Heavy Bibs
We started spoon feeds using large plastic bibs that could be easily wiped clean. However, Rylin (and sometimes Harper) found it highly entertaining to wear their food. Rylin would literally pull her bib over her face and smear the food all over. She ended up with food caked in her eyebrows and eyelashes. I quickly replaced the original bibs with heavier silicone bibs. I still tuck the bibs into their seats, but they have much more trouble pulling them up and smattering food everywhere. Also, the new bibs can be rinsed in the sink with warm water…no rag needed!
Create a Diversion
It can be tricky spoon feeding four babies alone and even situating everyone in their seat takes a good five minutes. The babies tend to become antsy and fussy if settling in the table or getting the next bite takes too long. Harper becomes especially impatient when he’s ready for more food. I found that diversions work great! Sometimes, Elmo provides a bit of table side entertainment and sometimes my off-key singing does the trick. I am totally tone-deaf and perhaps the word’s worst singer, but the babies don’t care a bit. They LOVE hearing my rendition of Cum Ba Ya!
Keep Little Hands Busy
With spoon feeds, babies just love to grab at bowls and spoons. They see something novel coming towards them and they simply must grab. Babywise recommends teaching them “no hands”. I have two problems with this 1. Try telling eight hands controlled by four independent thinkers “no hands” as they all grab simultaneously. (Unless you are an octopus yourself, it’s tricky!) 2. We want to foster independence in the babies whenever possible. There will be a day not too far away that we want the babies to feed themselves. So, instead of saying “no hands”, we give the babies a short-handled plastic spoon to hold. They enjoy gnawing at them and sometimes practice feeding themselves. I also help them take some bites from the spoon I’m holding. They no longer grab the spoon used for feeding without help.
I am not in the least bit concerned about the babies sharing germs. It’s pretty much a given that pacifiers, bottles, and even spoons will get swapped from time to time. However, when we spoon feed the babies we use individual bowls and spoons. This helps us make sure they are given equal opportunities for spoon feeds. If we used just one bowl and spoon, some babies (ahem, Harper) would get the lion’s share while other babies (Hello, Sydney) would get one bite at best. In order to keep it all straight, I use a color code system. Each baby has a color or two that is always used for that baby and not the others.
I am always trying to figure out the best way to do this, here are some options I’ve tried:
Once we’ve fully mastered spoon feeds with purees, it will inevitably be time to start finger foods!