My children will be exclusively breastfed for at least six months.
I will start giving solid foods to my babies when they seem ready.
My children will not be fed cereal.
I will make my own baby food.
My children will be exclusively breastfed for at least six months. I have struggled (and succeeded) with breastfeeding two babies and I plan on continuing to breastfeed for at least one year. Even thinking about weaning them makes me a little teary-eyed. I love that I am able to provide the perfect food for them every single day. This was an extremely important part of what being a mama means to me and to have made it to this point is invaluable to my self esteem and to my children’s health. They came into this world earlier than expected, so their immune systems were even more fragile than a full-term baby’s. They have both had a runny nose once. That’s it. I definitely want to keep this record up!
Our pediatrician gave us instructions for feeding our babies beginning any time from 4-6 months, starting with rice cereal, then introducing various purees. He also told us that we were in no rush to start food because our children were growing fine on breast milk. On the other hand, our occupational therapist said that our children are basically behind in their development by about a month and that we should not, under any circumstances, start food before they are ready. I think that every parent has found medical professionals with conflicting medical opinions, so I certainly believe that any decision (when appropriate and feasible) should be thoroughly researched. It doesn’t matter how much you like your pediatrician – he or she is human and humans are notoriously wrong from time to time.
I will start giving solid foods to my babies when they seem ready. Babies give you cues that they are ready for more than mama’s milk. Clara recently reached for a chicken flauta. I’m not sure that she is ready for food yet, but I certainly paid attention. I want them to sit up unassisted. I want them to display an interest in food. I want them to be able to grasp things effectively. I might start purees before all three of these things are met, but that is because both babies were born with iron-deficiency anemia due to their prematurity and immediate umbilical cord cutting. I’m not doing any iron supplements (more on that in a bit), so I don’t want to wait too long to begin solid, iron-rich foods.
My children will not be fed cereal. There is growing evidence that iron supplements and iron-fortified foods (like rice cereal and formula) inhibit a baby’s natural ability to uptake iron. Breast milk itself is not considered to be iron-rich, but the iron in the milk is easily accessible to the infant’s digestive system. I worry about iron constantly. I don’t want to impact my children’s health in any negative way, but I have been hesitant to jump on the vitamin bandwagon. At first, we did give our children Poly-Vi-Sol in milk every day when they came home from the NICU. We had been told by the neonatologist that breastfed babies all needed supplements and we knew that they were anemic, so we supplemented. For a while. And then Cormac stopped tolerating the vitamins. He’d eat, not very vigorously, and then he’d projectile vomit. It started interfering with his weight gain. So I tossed the vitamins to the curb and didn’t look back. I honestly believe that in this case, as in many others, nature really does know best.
I will make my own baby food.This is easily the most exciting part about this whole journey for me. I have loved being able to make milk for my babies and can’t wait to take the next step and provide wholesome nutritious food for them. I don’t necessarily think that there is anything wrong with commercial baby food, but making it myself means that I can control the quality of the ingredients, where they come from, and what goes into my children’s mouths.
I love to cook and I love to garden, so the natural next step for me is to take the (literal) fruits of my labor and puree them up into yummy, baby-friendly goodness. I’m already brainstorming iron- and vitamin C-rich combinations to feed to my growing monsters and their growing appetites. This feels so right to me. It’s as local as we can get and I know that the worst thing that might be in my garden is the occasional pile of dog poop. Annie, who you see in the top picture, doesn’t always poop where I tell her to. Alas.
So, we will feed our babies food in the next one to two months. When they show me that they are ready I’ll go ahead and give them some sweet potatoes and spinach. Mmmm.
Do you have a favorite website for baby food recipes that you would like to share?