OMG! It's a food- and baby-related post!
Given that I tend to have low iron stores, I've been considering starting Kara on an iron-rich red meat as her first food (a pretty drastic break from the North American tradition of fortified rice cereal). A lot of what I've been seeing regarding the bio-availability of various nutrients spurred me on — research seems to indicate that various vitamins, types of fat and the like are best ingested from the plants and animals which actually produce them, as opposed to in "purified" forms like capsules or tablets.
My preliminary research suggests that the reason to introduce solids to babies at the 6-month mark is mostly due the fact that they tend to become iron-deficient after that age and that they also require the extra zinc that meat provides. Premature and low birth weight infants are said to benefit most from meat as a first food.
The first meat anyone thinks of when the term "red meat" comes to mind is — of course — beef, but I have found that bison is much easier to digest (and, as it turns out, is often higher in iron than beef). My plan then, was to go to White House Meats in St. Lawrence Market as Kara approached 6 months of age. It was a pleasant surprise to discover, then, that the Stuart Carroll in Thornhill Market Gardens had a portion of frozen, vacuum-packed bison sirloin available a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I snapped it up.
Further research showed that the "best" way to introduce meat to babies is to bake, then purée the meat in question, adding water or stock afterwards.
Yesterday, after weeks of keeping an eye out for the "signs" that she was ready, Kara finally "opened her mouth when she saw food coming her way."
Today I seared, then broiled the bison, chopped, then puréed it, made a stock with the pan juices, added it to the bison and fed Kara. It seems that all my dedicated research (guffaw!) and hard work paid off; Kara seemed delighted by the new method of ingestion, and ate heartily. So, I've got at least another 2 days of feeding Kara bison twice a day (to make sure she isn't developing any allergic reactions), and then I'm likely to try brown rice flour in breastmilk next.
So, Kara has started solids just 11 days before her 6-month "birthday" and with any luck whatsoever, she'll sleep longer at nights as a result.