So It’s Time to Start Solid Foods...With Twins (or more!) How do I DO This??
I'm going to open with a brief summary, because most of you are really tired and way too busy to both watch a video AND read a long post! So, the Cliff's Notes Version:
Make sure the pediatrician is on board with all babies trying solid food.
Use adjustable feeding seats to save space.
Use a drop cloth of some kind.
Spoons. Give one to each child, keep one for yourself so you can feed them. Yes, use one spoon and one bowl of food for both (or more) kids.
Put a dollop of food on the tray in front of them before you begin.
Do NOT wipe their mouths or faces until the meal is finished.
Make it fun!
Now for a few more details on the nuts and bolts of starting solid food....
When your babies are ready to start on solid foods, it’s a big moment for everyone. For you, it’s a milestone that your little ones are becoming more independent and developing into autonomous beings. For them, it’s a whole new world of taste and texture (and behavior and social expectations). But when parents have multiples, this step can be a bit daunting. It’s hard enough to have to change two (or more!) diapers at the same time, nurse or bottle feed multiple tiny mouths, and get more than one baby at a time down to sleep. How on earth do you manage to feed them both?!?
It’s easier than you think. First, of course, you’ll want to consult with your pediatrician to make sure your babies are BOTH ready for solids. Remember that each child is unique, and while they’ll usually follow the same general developmental path, they will not be ready for the same things at the exact same times. If you have questions or concerns about allergies, be sure to check in with the doctor about those as well.
Once you’re ready to begin, here are a few tips I learned through my own experiences and the teachings of others. First, a lot of us simply don’t have room for two (or more!) full high chairs in our kitchens. I suggest getting adjustable feeding seats that attach directly to the kitchen chairs that are already there. These feeding seats usually come with detachable trays, so they’re essentially high chairs…they just fit under the table and stay out of the way when you’re not using them.
Another tip is the drop cloth. You can order a cloth that is designed for babies and catching crumbs (and mush), but you can also get a cheap shower curtain and it works just as well. Just be sure to open and “off-gas” it outdoors for a day before putting it down around the babies. There is often a smell with those that can be very unpleasant (and some would argue unhealthy).
Let's talk about spoons. First of all, EVERYONE is going to need a spoon. Be sure to give one to each baby before you start, and have one that you use to feed them. (Don't bother having a separate spoon to feed each child, or a separate bowl of food. Your babies are going to be swapping pacifiers and drooling all over each other no matter what you do--simplify your life!) Now, spoons. You'll notice in the video that the kids have a curved spoon, and there are holes in the bottom of it. These are wonderful for little hands! They're easy to grip, and the holes create suction so food sticks more easily to them. Remember the goal is not to have them feed themselves, but to begin to associate spoons with feeding. Eventually they'll feed themselves, but for now all you're doing is creating a link in their minds. (You may also notice how quickly they drop the spoons and get distracted--also totally okay.) The spoon I am using here is a "maroon spoon," which was designed by speech therapists for little mouths. It's perfect for feeding little ones, as it fits perfectly into little mouths. (You do not have to go out and buy these spoons. I also had a whole stack of the cheapo plastic spoons from Target I used just as much, and they worked fine. But if you want things to be just so, those are my recommendations.)
Okay, the kids have bibs (or they're naked), they're in the chairs, you have the cereal (most folks start with rice cereal, but speak to your pediatrician to find what will work best for your children) mixed up with breast milk or formula, it's pretty much at the right temperature, everyone has a spoon, and you're ready to go. Put a dollop on their tray so they can explore it if they choose, they can see and smell it right then and there. And by explore, yes, I do mean putting their fingers in it, smearing it in their hair, shoving it in their ears. Let them do this. It is very important for reasons of sensory integration (more on that another time) that you do not constantly wipe their faces. Let them be dirty. Let them know that it's okay to have some food around their mouths. If it's in their eyes, of course wipe it out, but otherwise let it be. If a child seems very distressed, wipe it off, with the idea firmly in your mind that at some point in time you will help her/him feel more comfortable with a little sticky stuff on their skin. This isn't the time, however, because....
One final thing, and this is the single most important tip of them all:
Make it fun.
In all seriousness, what you are doing is setting the stage for your children's relationship with food. Smile. Praise them for every attempt. Let them know how happy everyone is that they are participating (even if they aren't eating it but will touch it, that's wonderful!). Associating joy and connection with eating is one of the best habits you can build into your child's mealtimes. Happy dinner gatherings after school start now!
Finally, I could apologize for my messy kitchen counters...but I'm not going to. I had two 6-month-olds to take care of at that time! The fact we could see the floor at all is impressive to me. So to all parents of multiples, be you tidy or not, embrace it all and apologize to none! Love those babies, love yourselves, and know that you truly will sleep again one day and YES--it was worth it all.