Rice vs. Oatmeal: The Throwdown

If you know me, you know I’m a researcher. I make very few decisions on the fly, without some sort of information backing it up. And the few times in my life that I have done that… let’s just say it just didn’t feel right. I research everything. Shamelessly, I’m that annoying know-it-all that loves to prove people wrong in a Hermione Granger-esque sort of way. In high school, I researched a ridiculous amount of colleges, but only applied to 3. Once in college, I researched every major that my diagnostic test suggested I could possibly be interested in before changing majors. When we moved, I exhausted Anthony with how many complexes I wanted NEEDED to see. And don’t even get me started on the research that went into each little decision regarding our wedding.

But with Abigail, it seems to be a whole different ball of wax. I will admit that up to this point my research has always been about what is best for me. Occasionally it was what was best for ‘us’ but that still included ‘me.’ Now, I am responsible for making the best decisions possible for someone else. And not because she wants me to, but because she NEEDS me to. My decisions directly affect her well being. Oye! The pressure! So, the research has been…extensive. Yea. Let’s go with that.

Want to know the truth? I was researching things for Abigail before Abigail even existed. My best friend, Beckie, and I stole away one night, months before Abby was even a ‘twinkle in my eye’, to the mother-lode of all baby stores. That’s right. We took our first real trip up and down the isles of Babies R Us. We didn’t want anything other than information. We went up and down every single isle, simply exploring. We looked at the difference in brands and prices, product options, and all the stuff that we just don’t need but SO want to have. We even took notes. Yup. Notes. I’m that big of a nerd. And I’m ok with it.

So if that was how “pre-research” went, you can only imagine what the real thing was like. I dragged my poor husband up and down those same isles several times, emailed him countless “What do you think about this one?” emails, and read him about a gazillion recall articles. In the end I think we made some pretty good decisions, as Abigail has responded well to the majority of our choices. I am also very thankful she is as easy-going as she is, as I know that has something to do with it.

When it came to food, I was kind of relieved when some of those decisions were made for me. We’ve been on one formula from the get-go and it was (and still is) Dr.’s Orders. A special formula made just for preemies and their dietary needs. Perfect! But now, I’m in charge again, and it is more important than ever that I get it right. When we were in the NICU, they told us babies like Abby have one of 2 problems – either respiratory or digestive. Digestive is the less threatening of the two, and I am happy to say that is all we had to deal with. But, that being said, we STILL experience some difficulty with her digestive system, with constipation and gas being the primary symptoms. I know that all the Mom’s out there just read that and thought, “Oh, no biggie – ALL babies go through that.” And for the most part you’d be right. But it is a little different with Abby. I’ve seen what these issues can do. We watched in horror as her belly literally blew up like a balloon. It’s scary and I never want to go there again. So I’m going to have to pull the Mommy-of-a-special-baby card and say it isn’t exactly the same. And the fear of it returning never goes away.

All of this leads me to Dr. Saul’s proclamation that it is time to introduce “first foods” to Abigail as soon as possible. Well what the heck does that mean? Of course, I asked and he said “baby cereal, usually rice, and promptly after add fruit and veggie purees.” Well, do one internet search on ‘first foods’ and you get this jumble of contradicting information that had my head spinning. Some sites say introducing cereal first is best because it has the smallest chance of triggering allergies. Other sites argue that starting with fruits and veggies is best because it helps to develop the taste buds better. A third collection of websites claim that there is no scientific evidence that either side of the argument is correct. Grrr.

Once you decide what goes first (with Dr. Saul’s guidance, we are going with cereal first in the hope of avoiding allergic reactions before we are out of the gate) then you have to decide exactly what cereal to go with. Oh, you didn’t know there were options? Well… let me tell you. Which grain? Rice, Oatmeal, or barley? When you figure out which grain, what kind of prep? Instant or home-made? Once you decide that you’ve got to choose brand on one side, and regular or organic on the other. It’s never-ending!!!!

Rice Cereal in a box (you know, the Gerber kind) is the most obvious and the most common. But the list of cons to that is mind-boggling. Instantly, I read and hear “No!” on that one – Rice causes constipation, commercial is expensive as you are paying for convenience and packaging, pre-packaged isn’t nearly as nutritious as fresh, rice isn’t nearly as nutritious as the other grains, etc, etc, etc. So in one foul swoop we’ve eliminated rice cereal and commercial, pre-packaged cereal regardless of grain.

So, that leaves me with oatmeal and barley. And that is a no-brainer. Oatmeal. Because who wants to torture their kid with barley? (No offense to anyone who a) eats it, or b) feeds it to their kids…it’s just a preference of a picky eater on this end.) Awesome! I’m ready, right? Yea… not so much. Turns out there are several different types of oats to choose from and a different pro, con, and way to prepare each one. Someone shoot me.

Well, I’ll spare you the details and the endless stream of internet information that fueled the end result, but here it is: Abigail’s first food will be a home-made concoction of fresh, steel-cut oats from Sprout’s Farmer’s Market that we will grind to a fine powder in the magic bullet and cook with tap water. We will then mix it with a little of Abigail’s special Preemie formula to ensure she’s getting the Iron she needs, as well as lessening the shock of introducing texture. Tada!!! (What you can’t see is a very tired and dazed Jen about to pass out from information overload about a grain she doesn’t even eat!)

Luckily, the fruit and veggie puree research will be less of a struggle. For those new moms out there, if you haven’t heard of Annabell Karmel yet, get to know her. I have 3 of her books, all of which are amazing. Some of her toddler food even I want to eat, and if you know what kind of finicky eater I am, you know that’s saying something! I will be following her guide, to the letter, about what and when to feed Abigail, as her philosophies seem to line up perfectly with Dr. Saul’s. Thank the Lord for an easy decision!

So cheers to no more research for a while! That is, until the next agonizing decision I have to make for the well-being of my kiddo. 😉

-Jen

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6 thoughts on “Rice vs. Oatmeal: The Throwdown

  1. Julie Mazer says:

    And to make it all the more challenging, my dear, is the plain fact that every baby is different. Just because research says one thing will not definitely mean that will be what is ultimately best for dear little Abby. That said, however, it’s certainly a good place to start for a baseline. The great thing is you will be ever vigilant and will see the right adjustments to make.

    Can’t wait to read how it all goes. Happy feeding!
    Love–JULIE

  2. Beckie says:

    I loved our trip to Babies R Us and I love that you are doing all this research (cuz it means I can just ask YOU all my questions when it’s my turn 😉

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