What does Jacob eat? (An update)

IMG_0788You may remember from a post a few months ago that we were very excited to start Baby Led Weaning with Jacob. Since then, his food allowance has gone from .5 gram of protein a day to 3 grams of protein! (If you’re new to the blog, children with Citrullinemia are on a severely restricted protein diet. They must receive exactly the amount of protein their body can use – no more, no less. Too much or too little puts Jacob at risk of brain damage and coma, or worse.)

Like almost everything else in my parenthood journey thus far, our solid-introducing experience has not gone, shall we say, by the book.

Initially, Jacob seemed interested in playing with food, but as soon as a lump would hit his tongue he would vomit. Like clockwork. His little face would turn red, his eyes would water, and out would come the offending particle along with anything else that had entered his stomach in the last, oh, few hours. In that way, we lost quite a bit of formula and (horrors) breastmilk. Finally, I had to put a stop to it and introduce purees.  I dutifully went to the farmers market, purchased armfuls of gorgeous organic veggies, and set to making homemade purees, measuring each ingredient and using a spreadsheet to calculate grams of protein per serving – only to have Jacob reject over half of the options I offered him.

Finally, exhausted with the unappreciated effort of producing and measuring my child’s food, I went to store-bought organic purees. Tangential note #1: I recently managed to start a flamewar on the internet in a Facebook group about home organization when I indicated that I feed my child from packets.

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Tangential note #2: There is no limit to the uses of this meme. Game of Thrones FTW. I’m geeking out here, people.

At any rate, store bought purees were a life saver. I could buy one flavor at a time, figure out which ones were his favorites, and go from there, introducing new tastes little by little. Since the protein content was indicated on the label, all I had to do was measure how much of the packet he actually ate. Purees, teething biscuits, and occasionally oatmeal have been the staple of Jacob’s diet for the last few months. (Behold below, the puree drawer image that started the internet flamewar.)

Until a few days ago, when Jacob’s little lips closed tight against the introduction of purees. Frustrated, I steamed up some purple cauliflower from the market, chopped it up, and dumped it on the tray. In it went. No vomiting, no fuss, just a happy eating baby. Carrots! Grapes! (Peeled and quartered! Don’t arrest me, mom police!) Cheerios! All happily consumed!

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I am finding that Jacob is now eating less, and slower – which means we may need to temporarily adjust down his protein allowance and make up for it by reintroducing natural protein into his milk. But I am so happy to see him begin to practice those fine motor skills and tolerate textures!

I also need to correct an earlier assumption of mine – that Jacob would be vegan. In a conversation with Erika yesterday, I learned that many children with citrullinemia will eat cheese and other dairy products as their protein allowance increases with age. These complete proteins are good sources of nutrition for UCD kids. I have to tell you something she said because the image is so beautiful in my mind. “It will be easier for Jacob to be a vegetarian than a vegan. You know, when he is a teenager and goes to a restaurant with his friends, he can always order a cheese quesadilla and be on his way, rather than having to search out a vegan option.” Can you imagine? Jacob? A teenager? In a restaurant with friends? Ordering a quesadilla? It is so normal and beautiful. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?

Food, Glorious Food!

Now that Jacob is nearly 6 months and just about sitting up, we are starting to play with solids! We have decided to embrace the mess and try baby led weaning. Once a day, I put Jacob in his high chair (or on my lap at the dinner table) and offer him some soft solids. Read: carrot sticks steamed to the point of mushiness, slices of avocado, sweet potato sticks – anything large enough to grasp but mushy enough to swallow. I tried sweet potatoes and carrots first, but he was not a fan…

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Yesterday, I put him in the high chair and offered him some ripe avocado. Like everything, it went straight in his mouth, but unlike the orange veggies, he seemed to actually enjoy it! Had he been more coordinated, I bet he would have eaten every bit, but he is still learning how to use those chubby little hands.

IMG_3948 IMG_3941 IMG_3945 IMG_3940I often get asked (a) why are you doing baby-led weaning? and (b) how does citrullinemia affect Jacob’s diet? My answer to (b) actually has a lot to do with my answer to (a). For all intents and purposes, Jacob will be a vegan, but his diet will be even more restricted than the typical vegan diet. Vegan diets include a number of rich protein sources, including beans, seeds, and nuts.  Jacob gets a limited daily protein “allowance,” so the overwhelming majority of his calories will come from fruits and vegetables. My goal for him is to enjoy as varied a diet as possible and to enjoy eating. Proponents of baby-led weaning argue that allowing children to explore the shapes, colors, and textures of food early on leads to them become more enthusiastic and adventurous eaters. This is exactly what I want for Jacob! And judging by his enthusiasm for avocado, I think we are already on our way.

Friday Photo: Selfie Series

It has been a fairly quiet month on this blog, which is certainly not a bad thing. Things have been humming along in Jacob world, and he is doing so well! I am overdue for the June video (coming this weekend!) and soon I need to post about our upcoming adventure in solid foods (gasp!). We are going to be trying baby-led weaning. It will be my job to estimate how much food (protein) ends up in Jacob’s mouth and how much ends up smooshed on the tray table, in between baby folds, in his hair, and on the floor. Stay tuned for more details on the nitty-gritty of baby-led weaning with citrullinemia.

In the meantime, a photo series: