For the past few weeks, we have been slowly introducing Adina to solid food. If you do the math, Adina turned 6 months last Sunday, which in America is the recommended age to start solids. In Israel, they say anywhere between 4 to 6 months is acceptable. We started her at a little over 5 months. We probably could have started sooner since she has been intently watching us eat since she was 4 months, but I was a bit hesitant about starting since I felt overwhelmed about where to begin. Once I talked to a few people, I felt ready while we were in the US.
Why did I feel so overwhelmed? From what I have heard, in the United States, the pediatrician goes over the introduction of solids with first time parents. Each doctor has their own recommended schedule, but no matter what it is, a trained professional gives you a sense of direction. Here in Israel, we don’t have a pediatrician that we go to on a regular basis. Because we are on private insurance, we only can see a doctor if there is some sort of an “emergency.” It doesn’t have to be anything scary, but it has to be a legitimate reason for us to see a doctor. We can’t just go to have a check up. What do we do then? For regular check-ups, we go to Tipat Chalav, which are the wellness clinics for children in Israel. When Adina was first born, we went there to have her weighed every few days to make sure she was gaining weight properly. Over time, we stopped going so frequently. Instead, we only go when we have to get her vaccinations. The first vaccination appointment was accompanied by an appointment with the Tipat Chalav pediatrician who did a basic check, but for the most part we just go in, the nurse checks her physical development (length, weight, head circumference), and she checks that she is progressing with things like grabbing, turning over, etc. Then they give her shots. That of course is Adina’s least favorite part. I hate it too, but it is a necessary evil to make sure she stays healthy.
The first time we registered at Tipat Chalav, we had a nurse that spoke English. Since then, we have had nurses who mainly spoke Hebrew, Russian, and French. Adam has been amazing communicating with them in Hebrew. However, since communication is difficult, we don’t typically ask questions, but rather we answer them. So, at our 4 month visit, I didn’t think to ask about solids. I’m sure if I did, they would have given their recommendations, but it would have been difficult to understand everything they said. So we didn’t start anything until our friend mentioned that her son who is five days younger than Adina was already eating solids. Then I started asking her and my sister-in-laws a billion questions to figure out what to do and where to start. One of my sister-in-laws gave me the solids schedule that her doctor had recommended. For the most part we have followed it, although we have adjusted it to suit our needs. Adina has been enjoying all sorts of things at this point. Her favorite seems to be sweet potato, but there are lots more foods that she needs to try before we can determine for sure.
When we started thinking about solids, I was sure that I was going to make all of her food. After all, that seems the healthiest. However, as I quickly learned, there is great convenience to baby food that you buy in the grocery store. So much was going on while we were in the US that it was just easier to buy the sweet potato in a jar than make it myself. When we came back to Israel, I immediately started work, so I was interested in using the jars of food until I could feel more stable in our new schedule. I have been to two major grocery stores, two small markets, and the pharmacy in pursuit of baby food. The stores all seem to carry the same jars all of which seem to be fruit with the exception of peas and carrots, and Adina doesn’t really like peas. The options are so limited compared to the huge variety that we found in the US. Why so few choices? We think that most people here make their own baby food. Given the limited choices of pre-made food, we have started making our own baby food (carrots, sweet potato, chicken, etc.). It turns out that it really is easy to make vegetables and meat which we often add to the rice or oatmeal that we brought back with us from the US. Fruit is a bit more tricky, which may be why all I seem to be able to find in jars is fruit. We aren’t the only ones who think that it makes more sense to buy this food group!
So where to next on our food adventures? We have a few more vegetables and beef to try I think before we get to her eating whatever it is that we are eating. Sooner rather than later, however, we expect to give her an Israeli treat called Bam-Ba, which looks like a cheese puff only it is covered in peanut butter dust instead of cheese. Peanut butter before the age of one! The horrors! In America, the fear of peanut allergies keeps this favorite of ours out of a child’s reach until at least one. In Israel, however, almost every baby has had peanut butter in some shape or form by the age of 9 months. Interesting fact; peanut allergies are almost nonexistent in Israel. If you mention it, most people say that is an American thing. So despite the fact that I am an avid rule follower, and the rules say to wait on peanut butter back in the US, we plan on giving her this peanut buttery snack. The temptation of giving it to her to possibly avoid the allergy is too great to not try it. Maybe that makes me a bad parent, and you can judge me all you want. It wouldn’t be the first nor will it be the last time that someone tells me I’m doing things wrong as a parent.
Until next time…