Baby Darwin celebrated her six-month birthday two days ago. Until recently, she was reluctant to take a bottle, even though it contained the very same milk she drinks every day in large quantities from her mother's breasts. But Ryan and Elissa found that she was more willing to take the bottle if she was allowed to hold it, and bring it up to her mouth herself.
This wasn't necessarily easy, because at first her coordination was not all that great. But she did eventually become able to feed herself from a bottle. The picture shows Dar being fed by her grandmother during our recent Cape Cod vacation.
You can see that Margie is mostly allowing Dar to manipulate the bottle herself.
As you can see from the photo on the right, taken in Wellfleet, Dar now tries to put everything she sees into her mouth. As her coordination has improved, she's started to do this ever more purposefully, and frequently she's shown a special interest in food.
Although she looked interested in Ryan's ice cream cone in Wellfleet, in current thinking it's too early to introduce cow's milk products. Thus Darwin didn't get to sample Ryan's cone during our walk. Until recently, the only thing she's had to eat has been her mother's milk.
But that's going to have to change. Since both her parents are academics, they were able to take the summer off. This gave them the luxury of experiencing all the rapid changes in Darwin during the first few months of her life.
But with the start of school, both Elissa and Ryan are going back to work. Darwin is going to have to take a bottle, at the very least, like it or not. And given her apparent interest in putting things into her mouth, it seemed reasonable to try Darwin out on what, for infants, passes as "solid" food.
So Darwin got to try oatmeal, seen on her first day to the left. The trouble is, she has the same attitude towards handling a spoon as she had towards handling her milk bottle: she wants to do it herself. And while her coordination is improving at a rapid rate, hitting her mouth with any degree of accuracy can be problematic.
Furthermore, as I alluded to with my quotation marks above, "solid" food for babies is not really very solid. It begins with oatmeal, which is more of a liquid than an actual solid (after all, she's got no teeth). The result on the second day can be seen in the picture to the right. Note that while both Darwin and Ryan were clothed on the first day (above), they undressed for the feeding on the second day (photos by Elissa). Elissa noted, "We learned our lesson - clothes and solids don't mix."
For the full effect of this photo, click on it to enlarge it, and then return with your "Back" button. That can be done with all the photos in this entry.
Since Dar seems rather enthusiastic about this new addition to her diet, more foods will gradually be introduced. If our own family is any indication, this will be a start on the road to a lifetime of enthusiastic eating. Eating out is the single largest entertainment expense for Margie and me.
Of course, the parents of a new baby learn as they go, and Elissa and Ryan's approaches to feeding Dar are continually improving. It's hard to learn how to handle a baby, because as soon as you learn a new method, they promptly change and require you to do something else.
But in the photo to the left (taken by Aunt Sara), you can perhaps see that Darwin, Elissa, and Ryan have all improved their techniques. Dar has gotten better at getting food into her mouth, and Elissa and Ryan now use an extremely large bib, simplifying the cleanup (but note the dots of oatmeal on the floor).
Until yesterday, Darwin had never spent very much time without one or both of her parents nearby. Yesterday marked another milestone, the first of what I hope will be many hours she spends in the care of her grandparents. Margie and I met Elissa in Harvard Square, and Dar was left in our care while Elissa went off to meet with her new advisees. Of course, Darwin screamed for the first half hour, possibly due to being overtired, but perhaps also because she needed to have her diaper changed.
After I took care of the diaper (using three baby wipes - I'll get better at it), she finally fell asleep, a state which was maintained by pushing her stroller nonstop around Harvard Yard.
Elissa can now say, "I parked my Dar in Harvard Yard," or, of course, as the local accent has it, "I pahked my Dah in Hahvahd Yahd."
Being pushed in irregular loops among all the incoming Harvard freshmen, Darwin slept for precisely half an hour, which Elissa says she's been doing lately, after which Elissa returned from her meeting.
Next up: day care. With a baby, a new phase of life begins every week.