My kids are now almost 12 months old. I waited to start solid foods until my babies were six months old. Partially, because that’s what the lactation consultant recommended. And, partially, because when they were four months old, I simply couldn’t face adding more work into my life. Between staying home with the babies full-time, a half-finished dissertation proposal and a class full of second year masters students to teach, I felt like my plate was full. I couldn’t really face it at six months either, but, by that point, I’d waited long enough. The kids were thrilled—Abigail seemed to look at me and try to say, “Ah, Mom! This is what I’ve been wanting! This is fantastic!”. Danny was less thrilled, but quickly got into it.
While physically feeding them was okay, the mess that was created was fantastic! Another HDYDI mom asked recently, “How do you deal with the mess?”. Ah, a question I wish I had the answer for. Sweet potato in the hair. Yogurt smeared all over the tray. I double bib (small cloth bib underneath, with a big plastic bib with a pocket on top) but still some food gets through. I push up the sleeves. I try making the food thicker to try to keep it on the spoon. This is only successful when the babies don’t decide to feed themselves (they’re 11 months now, and independence is a big thing for them)….ah, an excited baby with a spoonful of oatmeal. Shake spoon excitedly! Yell loudly! Food goes flying….seriously, it’s airborn. It’ll hit the table behind them, or the floor two feet away, or, if she’s unlucky, the cat as she walks by. (Poor cat has seriously had a decrease in her quality of life since the kiddos arrived. Cat fur is so soft and fun to pull….). And now, the new developmental step is throw something over the side (of the high chair, the crib, the stroller) and then lean way over to watch it. Where did it go? On the floor? How fascinating to see it there! Let’s see what happens if I do it again!
We’ve been working on sign language for months now (with no signs in return…sigh) but Abigail’s new sign for “all done” appears to be sweeping her hands back and forth across the tray, sweeping all leftover food onto the floor. The cat is thrilled if it’s chicken…..useless if it’s bits of orange or apple. (She’ll deign to snack on cheese or tofu only if I’ve forgotten to feed her a snack recently). My floor is covered with small bits of snacks and splotches of purees. I never clean it enough. (The cleaning people have taking to spraying it with cleaner and letting it soak for 20 minutes before even trying to mop. Ew.)
There isn’t really advice in this column. I can’t say I’ve ever dealt particularly well with the mess. I have resorted to dinner in a diaper and socks only (their feet might get cold), which vaguely horrifies my husband (where did their clothes go?) but that I think makes perfect sense. Why get clothing covered with food when you don’t have to? But this isn’t really a practical solution for all meals. What do others do? Should I just bite the bullet and replace my cat (sorry kitty!) with a nice (small) dog who will happily clean my floor for me? Because that’s just what I need, something else to take care of and clean up after.