<i> This is a commentary written by Kamryn Jaroszewski, editor of the "Alaska Post."</i>

FORT RICHARDSON, Alaska (Army News Service, Jan. 26, 2007) - I can tell I'm a first-time mom.

I've gone through five types of bottles for my own preference, not my daughter's.

For the first six months of her life, I would change her every two hours - except when she was sleeping - whether she needed it or not.

If I see a cute outfit at the store, I buy it, even though she has a gajillion other cute outfits in her closet she's worn only once.

And lately, the problem of big-girl food has given me the deer-in-the-headlights look only a first-time mom can understand.

My daughter has done pretty well in her nine months of life. She took to solids with gusto and even likes green veggies.

But now she has teeth, and purees just aren't cutting it.

This has left me with a considerable dilemma: what in the world do I feed her now'
I've exhausted the Internet with searches on what to feed a 9-month-old, and there are two answers that make me shout at my computer screen: "table food" and "finger food."

Right.

Just what exactly does that mean' Some sites instruct parents to cut into small pieces the same food they're eating and give it to the baby.

It's a nice thought, in theory. In practical application, dinnertime would go something like this: "Do you want some yummy pasta, Lilah'"

Mild interest from the baby.

"This is really good spaghetti!"

She reaches for the inch-long noodles and smiles. I smile, thinking dinner will be nice. I take a few bites and realize I've forgotten the parmesan cheese. After returning from the refrigerator, I look at my bundle of joy and cringe.

The little bit of sauce accompanying her pasta is now smeared across her face, her shirt and the small section of tablecloth near her high chair.

A noodle is dangerously close to her left nostril, and I pray she doesn't inhale suddenly.

The dogs lie in wait, hoping more food will be sent their way.

OK, that's never actually happened, but it's still a frighteningly real possibility.

Can you now understand my anguish' Single parenting is quite a daunting task. I'm solely responsible for meeting the nutritional, developmental and emotional needs of my daughter, at least until my husband's unit comes home.

If I mess up in the next nine months, there's no one else to blame.

But I digress. Back to the issue of table food. Like most first-time moms, I'm scared to death my child will choke.

She's done well with toddler bites of green beans, pears and peaches, but I can't give her just those for the rest of her life.

Now, I must make meals without knowing what exactly it is I should be feeding her.
Some parents stick to a strict diet of organic food, with sides of tofu and Evian water to drink. What do I do'

Give my daughter tastes of my ice cream cone and cups of tap water.

Hey, she's had her shots, right'

In the meantime, I'll restrain my guilt and let her try the little toddler meals found on the third shelf up at the Commissary.

A part of me feels like it's the equivalent of giving her TV dinners, and she may grow up with 15 less IQ points than those tofu-fed kids.

This leaves me with one thought - if I could just find her darn instruction manual, I wouldn't be in this predicament in the first place.

Page last updated Fri January 26th, 2007 at 11:23