Actually, a more accurate title would probably be “When/what/where/why/how should I start solids”? or “Ahhhhhh….what the heck am I supposed to feed my baby?”
It might sound strange, but one of the first things I started to think about after finding out I was pregnant was what I was going to feed my baby when he/she was born. I had just enrolled in the Holistic Nutrition program at IHN, so the connection between food and health was very much on my mind. It’s one thing to look after your own health, but now I knew that I was also going to be responsible for the health of the little being growing inside of me. That’s a heck of a lot of responsibility!
I needed to prepare myself. I spent a lot of time doing research on pregnancy/baby/toddler nutrition. It helped that I had an interest in the subject to begin with and now I had even more incentive to gather as much information as possible. I read a number of books. I consulted with my Naturopath. I chatted with lots of other moms to get their opinions. I even volunteered at a baby trade show in a nutrition booth where I helped a nutritionist do product demos and answer questions regarding baby/toddler nutrition.
So what did I learn from all of this intense research? Well, in a nutshell I discovered that although there are definitely some best practices out there, there are oodles of varying opinions on feeding your baby . And when I say oodles, I mean oodles.
The reality is that every parent is different and each baby’s situation is different. Meaning, there is no one right way to do things. Not surprisingly, I have discovered this to be the case for most aspects of parenting (ummm…shocker, right?!) And I say most because I’m pretty sure there are at least a few universal rules – like putting your baby in a carseat when taking them in the car, making sure they sleep at some point during a 24-hour period, and not letting them stick their finger in the socket – that sort of thing. Although I’m sure there is a parent out there somewhere that could make a case as to how even these are going to somehow mess up your child in the long run!
So although it would be nice if I could just open a book and find the right answer for every parenting dilemma I encounter, that is almost never going to happen. In the words of my wise grade 9 math teacher Mr. Smola – “There is more than one way to get to Bridgeport” (a reference that will be lost on any reader that did not attend St. Davids high school, but I’m sure you get the gist). Therefore, the choices I make might not be right for everyone. That’s why they are my choices 🙂 I may change my opinions on how I’ve approached things as time goes on and wish I had done things differently. And by the time child number two comes around, I’m sure I will have a completely different outlook on everything and will laugh at how ridiculous I was for over-analyzing every situation. But hey, since that this blog is about kids and food, I have decided to share my choices and my thoughts along the journey.
One thing I did know from the beginning was that breastfeeding was important to me, so was an obvious place to start. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky mommas that had no issues in that area. And Tyson has always been a hungry little man – breast or bottle, day or night, it doesn’t matter. Give him access to food and he will take it. So my baby existed solely on breast milk for over six months.
We decided to breastfeed as long as possible for a few reasons.
Obviously the recommendations from the Canadian Paediatric Society, and the many studies that highlight the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding influenced my decision significantly. The cost (or lack thereof) was also a factor. Free breast milk vs. paying for formula or other food when there are already a ton of other expenses associated with having a baby? I’ll take the free food please!
Also, breastfeeding is just so darn convenient. I love not having the hassle of remembering to bring a bottle or food with me when I go out, or warming up the bottle when Tyson is ready to eat. I am out and about A LOT, and Tyson has never been a baby to stick to any sort of schedule. It is just so easy to whip out the hooter hider wherever I am and feed him. Yes, I am one of those modest moms who doesn’t really feel comfortable flashing her breasts out in public (props to those who do!), but with the cover I seriously feel comfortable just about anywhere.
Had Tyson shown any signs that he was needing more food we may have started solids earlier but he seemed quite content with the breast milk situation. I’ll be honest, I don’t really agree with all those books that say that “you can gauge when your baby is ready for solid food when he starts showing interest in your food”. Come on now. What five-month old baby does not show interest in your food when you are eating in front of them (or your iPhone, or your keys)?
So basically, we were in no rush. I truly believe that breast milk can easily be a baby’s main source of nutrition for the first year (and it still will be for Tyson). However, I also know that I will be going back to work in February so I didn’t want him to have to go off breast milk cold turkey! I also got the impression from my research that it does take some babies a bit of time to get used to eating food – some babies take to it instantly, while others need a little practice. So in order to get Tyson used to eating solid food, we decided that the big introduction of solids would take place shortly after his six-month birthday. More about this in Part 2!
What factors influenced your decision to start your baby on solids? Did you analyze it to death like I did or were you more relaxed about the whole thing?