The Novice Father: Cleaning behind her ears – Vail, CO |

The Novice Father: Cleaning behind her ears – Vail, CO

Kelly Coffey
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyKelly Coffey

VAIL, Colorado ” The wife and I gave our 6-month old solid foods for the first time. “Solid” food may be misleading. We’re not serving her a juicy t-bone. We’re talking rice cereal that makes my liquidy oatmeal look like concrete.

The main difference is that instead of taking her meal out of a bottle while reclining in my arms, the Kid’s now propped upright in her highchair and taking the food from a spoon. This new turn in dining has really given the Kid a chance to get messy as never before.

“You need something water resistant in your kitchen,” said Eric Mandeville of Gypsum. “Don’t eat over carpet.” With two daughters under 5-years old, Mandeville has experienced this messy phase twice already.

With a bottle of formula, the worst that happened in our house was a little dribble of milk onto our baby’s chin. Neatly daubed off with a burp cloth, feeding time never required much cleanup. Now I won’t escape a feeding without mush on the Kid’s chin, cheeks, clothes, hands, hair, highchair tray, and even once behind her ear.

So far the ceiling has been spared. But that may not last long. According to Mandeville, the real chaos begins when our daughter starts to feed herself. “Whatever they don’t like they can throw,” he said.

It’s not getting the food into her mouth that causes the mess. At this point, the Kid is a black-belt in putting things into her mouth. It’s the next step ” swallowing ” that throws our baby for a loop.

When we first offered, she took a ferocious chomp onto her first spoonful of mushy rice cereal. Here’s some context: up until now, everything that went into her mouth ” plastic toys, car keys, my ski pass, leaves from our backyard tree ” was taken out immediately. So shortly after that first zealous bite you could see the “what now?” look on her face. You could also see the mush escaping onto her chin.

With these solid food feedings I find more mush on and around her than I made for her in her bowl. And since I never actually see her swallow anything, I wonder if she gets any nutrition from this sitting at all.

Regardless of nutrition, mushy rice cereal doesn’t look even a little appetizing, at least from an adult’s perspective. Yet Mandeville has tried some himself, along with most every baby food he has served his daughters. “Yeah it’s nasty,” he said.

So maybe we’ll be more successful adding new foods to liven things up. Some mashed-up sweet potato or carrots could be right up the Kid’s alley. According to a number of experts, though, we should only add one new food at a time (due to allergy concerns).

Apparently I’m supposed to add one new food for three days or more, observing our baby all the while for rashes, gas or fussiness. If we’re in the clear, I can add a new food. All the while documenting the whole process. I’ve done science experiments that were less formal.

Mandeville has one last piece of advice when it came to future feedings: Whenever I serve pasta with red sauce, make sure I do it on bath night.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to

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