If you’ve been listening to this podcast for awhile, you’ve heard me talk about how I share a 2-family house with my in-laws. We could probably do a whole episode on it because I get so many questions about it but I’ll stay focused on today’s topic. Because we live in the same house, we often share meals together, which also means that at least once a week I hear my mother-in-law or father-in-law exclaim… “He’s going to choke” as Brooks shoves a fistful of food in his mouth. I calmly remind them that he can handle it and that if anything, he’ll probably gag and not choke. But clearly the message hasn’t sunk in, and sometimes I think my calmness actually freaks them out more. You’d think they’d be more used to this after we did baby-led weaning with Hudson and try hard to give Brooks finger food versions of whatever we’re eating, but it’s just so foreign to them. Jenny helped me understand why our feeding style feels so wild and crazy to Dave’s parents, and she has so many nuggets of wisdom about starting solids to share with families.
Watch + Listen to the whole conversation:
Jenny scoured the internet for helpful information about introducing real food to her 6 month old twins. Her three year old was a picky eater and she wanted to avoid the same situation with her twins. She ended up down the endless google rabbit hole. Why wasn’t there a singular resource for parents to reference when introducing solid foods to their kids? Jenny decided to create that resource for parents, one ingredient at a time. Solid Starts help parents feel confident introducing real food to their littles through a finger food first approach. Parents love having a resource to create a healthy food culture with their families.
Where did the idea for Solid Starts come from?
I knew I wanted to do something around healing our relationship with food and figuring out how to kind of curb that before it starts. You look at a lot of Americans in particular, and not many would tell you they have a great relationship with food. Whether they work out too much, diet too much, are picky eaters, or consume food that doesn’t nourish their bodies, it’s troubling to me. Food can bring so much joy and pleasure to one’s life. I really wanted to figure out a way to prevent picky eating on a mass scale and to help parents see that the start of solids can be the start of a healthy relationship with food.
How did your personal story impact the mission of Solid Starts?
My firstborn Charlie, is now almost six years old. When it was time to start solids with him, I did what everyone else did at the time. I went to the store, I bought a pouch, I put it on a spoon, and I started spoon feeding him. He didn’t really enjoy that. I was so deflated because he didn’t want to eat.
The reality is, it’s actually really common and many babies do not like being spoon fed. If I really think about it, not a lot of people like anything coming at their face, or being put in their mouth, without them doing it themselves. Why would a baby be any different? Starting solids with my first was not a positive experience. Both my child and I were dreading meal time. I felt like I had to start using my phone to distract him and almost bribe him just to get him to take one bite. Starting solids became a really stressful and anxiety ridden and fearful time in our lives. Our son did not like coming to the table. He would cry the moment you put them in his high chair. It became a source of stress for him and really spiraled downward quickly.
So how did you handle his picky eating?
Fast forward a few months and Charlie’s eating just got worse and worse and worse to the point where the doctor really wanted him to be on some sort of feeding pack or nutrition- tube style feeding. So we met with pediatric nutritionists, dieticians, and feeding therapists. And basically, they all pinpointed the problem to a prolonged exclusive spoon feeding. He just never had access to practice self-feeding. He was definitely the kind of kid who wanted to be in control at the table and I wasn’t letting him do that. And why not? I was terrified and I had no idea what I was doing.
There is so much information available to support different aspects of parenting such as breastfeeding, but when it comes to feeding our baby real food, which is something you end up doing for the rest of your life, there’s very little support for parents.
When my twins came along, I knew I had to do something differently. Because there was no way I was going to deal with three picky eaters in my house. We really started researching it. And I soon realized that to do this justice, we needed to amass a team of doctors of pediatric feeding therapists of swallowing specialists, pediatric dietitians, nutritionists and experts to create a platform and dare I say, an institution that could be helpful worldwide to people who want to introduce real food to their baby. Solid Starts was born.
What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning is just the introduction of solid food by way of finger foods. So you’re skipping over the stage of what would be purees and spoon feeding in favor of letting the child self-feed with their fingers or their fists. For someone who’s just hearing this for the first time, who’s not well versed in the landscape of swallowing or choking, this can sound completely crazy. Baby-led weaning is a very different approach than what was considered the norm in the 70’s and 80’s. The progressive thing to do then was just to make your own purees. Its such a reversal and correction that we’re seeing now. We’re starting to see these really big shifts in how we’re feeding our kids.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.