Posts Tagged 'baby food'

Breastfeeding is Awesome

I don’t think I’ve really talked much about this topic, but I really do feel quite strongly about it, so I want to get it out there… Breastfeeding is amazing! It’s practical, healthy, and beautiful. I wouldn’t go back on my decision to breastfeed my daughter for anything in the world. Of course, I know I am lucky to have a year parental leave so that I didn’t have to worry about working and daycares, etc. and also, it doesn’t come as naturally as one might think it would… It was quite a bit of work to get everything right in the beginning, but it is so worth it.

First of all, breastfeeding is super practical. If the baby is hungry, you just need to find a place to sit down. No warming things up or mixing powders. You don’t have to remember to carry stuff with you, except a cover, and even that is optional. (Most women in Germany don’t use covers; the only ones I’ve ever seen were foreigners)

Secondly, breastfeeding is super healthy, both for mom and baby. It gives the baby a life-long boost in their immune system, and it also helps the mother with her immune system. We have spent the last 6 weeks in Mexico, and I haven’t been sick even once! Olivia had the sniffles for a few days, but it was very mild. Normally when I come to Mexico I get the infamous stomach illness (usually salmonella) pretty badly no matter how careful I am. This time not at all, and I have been eating everything, even lettuce! Unfortunately my husband was not so lucky… He has been sick three times so far, each time being stuck in bed for several days. Poor guy doesn’t get any of the immune system boosts from breastfeeding.

Lastly a word on nutrition. I know there are a lot of myths floating around out there about how the nutrition in breast milk is not sufficient after the baby has reached 6 months. I did a little research on this and couldn’t find any evidence to support that. It seems people are mostly worried about iron, since there is very little iron in breast milk, and the iron stored in the baby’s body from birth supposedly depletes by 6 months. But breast milk is tailored to the human body, and the small amount of iron it contains is actually absorbed very efficiently by the baby, (50-70% as opposed to iron-fortified cereals or formula which is only absorbed at a rate of around 10%. ) You can read more about it here if you are interested.

Other people say that there simply isn’t enough milk after six months and that the baby will be hungry if you don’t feed them something additional. This isn’t true, either. The way the body works is that the more a baby eats, the more milk is produced. There is a delay of a couple of days, so that when the baby hits a growth spurt he will be eating a lot more often because he is hungry. A few days later, the mom’s body catches up and there is more milk. As you start to wean, the milk production goes down accordingly, since the baby is eating less often. But if you continue breastfeeding, there will continue to be milk.

I breastfed my daughter exclusively until she was 7 months old, and then continued to feed her about 90% breastmilk until 11.5 months. (She has suddenly decided that she likes to eat more solids). She has been at the very top of the weight charts since just a few days after she was born, even though her birth weight was exactly average. She has always been very healthy, and people are constantly asking me if that is really all from breast milk. The answer is “yes”! I know that not every breastfed baby is super healthy or super big like mine, and they don’t have to be, either. But if you are looking for proof that exclusive breast milk is enough for a baby to thrive on, my little girl is a great example.

20130208-004433.jpg (here is my little chunk, talking to daddy on Skype)

Of course, as with all things, there are always exceptions… Every woman is different; every baby is different. Some women really don’t have enough milk or can’t breastfeed, and obviously that is ok, too! But if you have been breastfeeding successfully and your baby doesn’t want to eat solids when they turn six months old, don’t worry about it! They are getting everything they need from you.
We moms have enough to worry about already without people telling us that our babies are undernourished. What a way to sabotage the beauty of the female body.

The Solids Saga – giving up on baby-led-weaning

If you have followed my previous posts about baby food, you know that we were trying to do “Baby Led Weaning” with our daughter, instead of the traditional pureed baby mush. In theory, it seemed like a great idea, and made perfect sense to me. I just adjusted my cooking a little bit and eliminated salt and sugar from our diet, and offered Olivia whatever we were eating. The idea was that she could eat as much or as little as she wanted, and then get the rest of her nutrition from breast milk (so I continued to feed her on demand). Apparently some babies dive right in and love it, but a few babies really hang on to breastfeeding for a long, long time, and it seems that Olivia is one of those babies. She simply was never very interested in food.

I tried everything I could think of, and some days were better than others. Somtimes she would eat a lot of somthing and I would think that I’d figured it out, but then we would end up right back where we were before, with her only eating a few bites here and there, and some days not eating anything at all. At eleven and a half months she was still getting about 90% of her nutrition from breast milk.

Make no mistake, I am a huge fan of breastfeeding, and I’m not in any rush to wean her. She seems healthy enough, and her growth has continued to be off the charts. Nutrition is the last thing I’m worried about. But at the same time, I am getting tired of feeding her every two hours, and of being tied down. I’d like to be able to leave her with relatives for more than two hours. And I want her to try all of those exciting foods out there!

We have tried purees several times in the past, but Olivia hated them. She only wanted to grab the spoon from me, and if I tried to put anything in her mouth she would arch her back and scream. A lot of people told me I had to “teach” her how to eat by holding her down and forcing the spoon into her mouth. I’m sorry, but that just felt wrong to me, and the times I tried it, it didn’t work anyways; it only made her madder.

I was starting to accept my fate that maybe Olivia wasn’t going to start eating until she was 18.

But then, little by little, I started finding things she would eat reliably. One was Cheerios, and the other were those pouches of pureed fruits meant for toddlers. She loved them so much that she would devour a whole one in one sitting if I let her!

This is what finally led to our breakthrough… One day at the supermarket near my brother-in-law’s house, I ran across a bin of small plastic cups with chunky straws in them, meant for older kids. Since Olivia loves straws, I decided to get one and put purees inside it, like a milkshake. Believe it or not, it worked perfectly! I let her watch me mix the puree and fill it into the cup, and then I took a sip from it acting as if it were the BEST thing in the world. She instantly wanted it, and she ate an entire cup-full of baby food in just five minutes!

20130202-005239.jpg

Now that the world of purees has finally been opened to me, I have been having lots of fun cooking various concoctions for her. Her favorite is banana-spinach milkshake, but she also likes turkey with veggies and rice. Unfortunately it is hard for me to cook a lot for her since we aren’t at our own house right now, but once we get back I’m sure my fridge will be chock full of experimental baby food…

20130202-005356.jpg

The Solids Saga – Part 4 – I Finally Understand

If you’ve been following my previous posts regarding food, you’ll know that I have been a little unsure of how exactly to introduce solids to Olivia.  I wanted to do baby-led-weaning, but at 7 months, Olivia was still gagging on everything she put within a foot of her mouth.  Even water.  I’m not sure why it took her so long to loose the gagging reflex, but it really didn’t happen until she was 8 months old.  And I’ll be honest, I was worried.  I was starting to think I was doing everything wrong.

She is NOT interested in this piece of toast with bannanas.

I did try giving Olivia some purees, even some pureed meat, but she didn’t take much of it, and mostly just made my life difficult by trying to grab the spoon and throw the food everywhere.  I really didn’t like the idea of force-feeding her, so I decided to just back off.  She seemed healthy enough… and at 10.5 kg she wasn’t exactly lacking in the weight department.  (That is around the 95th percentile for weight, in case you were wondering…)

In the mean-time, I ordered the “Baby Led Weaning Cookbook”, and when it finally arrived, I read it cover to cover.  Let me tell you I was shocked to see that they hardly talked about gagging at all.  Just a half page.  And they said that babies usually learn how to deal with the food and stop gagging after a few days or maybe weeks.  They talked about 6 month old babies who were chewing on pieces of chicken, and 7 month-olds who would eat an entire apple, and then spit out the seeds!  “What is wrong with my baby?”  I thought.

Peas and rice from a pork chop dish we had

The other thing which surprised me is that most of the recipes in the book are basically just regular “food”.  Things like Tomato Roasted Chicken, and Chili con Carne.  Pancakes.  Scrambled Eggs.  Thai Green Curry.  The main thing is not to add any salt or sugar, and avoid any heavily salted foods like ham.    They don’t even give any kind of “recommended” age range for any of the foods.  That’s when I finally understood the whole point.  Babies really CAN eat everything from the very beginning.  You really don’t have to be worried about them choking on a noodle or the banana sticking to the roof of their mouths.  There are no “steps” to follow, and there are no schedules.  I was so caught up in the idea of there being a “method” to follow that I was blinding myself to the simplicity of it all.

Pasta with tomato sauce and tuna fish – the first dish Olivia really enjoyed eating

So I started making meals out of the book for Oscar and I to eat, and giving Olivia a little bit on her own plate.  She mostly ignored the food, or if she did touch it she threw it on the floor without even tasting it.  Then I realized that she was usually too tired or too hungry at mealtimes, and so she wasn’t interested in playing with anything.  I tried harder to get meals ready early, then to feed her, give her a rest, and THEN bring her to the table for lunch.  That was when it finally started working.  The first meal she really “ate” was a pasta with tuna fish and tomato sauce.  I was really impressed that she liked it and kept bringing bits of it to her mouth!

Chickpea patties with cucumber & yohgurt sauce (and tortillas – not pictured)

So now I include her in every meal, and she sometimes takes very small bits of it, other times she just plays with it, and sometimes she just wants down from the high chair without even looking at the food.  I am letting her go at her own pace, and I am no longer worried.  And the best part – she’s finally learned how to deal with food… she’s only gagged on food a few times in three weeks!

So now I’ve pulled out all the stops.  She’s had chicken, pork and beef, all in large chunks or strips.  She’s also had eggs, dairy and gluten with no issues.  So basically she eats with us for every meal now.  She hardly swallows anything, so she really is filling her hunger with breast milk still, but that’s ok with me.  I figure it will go in it’s own time.  One of these days she will realize that food also can satisfy hunger, and then she will start to eat more and more.  That’s why it’s called baby-led-weaning after all.

So yes, my 9-month-old is still 99% breastfed.  But she is also very healthy and strong, so I am not worried.

Spaghetti with green cauliflower

Pasta with mushrooms and carbonara sauce

A Solid Attempt at Solids

Yesterday was the big day!  Although we had playfully given Olivia a few things to chew on over the past weeks (watermelon, apple, pear, a noddle and an orange slice…) all of that was mostly just for fun and she enjoyed sucking the juices out of them.  Well, except for the noodle, which she played with for a while and then spit out.  But I didn’t consider any of that to be “introducing solids”, especially since none of those things are really considered to be good first foods except for the pear.

So after a lot of thought and research, I chose to give Olivia Avocado as her very first solid food.  Avocado is perfect not only nutritionally, but also since she is half Mexican, I feel it is also symbolic.

Plus, they are just really cool looking!

I cut up some long slices which she immediately snatched right out of my hand and put in her mouth!  What success!   She even wanted to wipe her hands in between slices.

Olivia eating a slice of avocado

 

Olivia playing with a paper towel

But instead of mashing it up with her gums, she decided it was better to push it all the way to the back of throat, which of course caused her to gag.  I tried several times with new pieces, always with the same result, until she suddenly barfed up all of the milk she had drunk at her last nursing session all over the floor.  Eww!  Poor Olivia.

Barf all over the floor

So long story short, I don’t think she is quite ready yet.  I might try some avocado mushed up this week, or maybe just wait another week to try again.

It kind of makes sense, since she has been gagging herself constantly with her own fingers, and even her toys if they fit far enough into her mouth.  I am wondering when she’s finally going to realize that “hey, when I put stuff to the back of my throat I  start gagging! ” I’m guessing it’s going to be a while judging by the looks of things.

I don’t want to start baby food…

Banana

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

I know it should be a fun event…. filled with smiles and photographs.  Baby’s first “real food”.  But I’ll be honest, I really don’t want to start.  Olivia is almost six months old, and is making grabs at our plates and spoons… I know it’s time.  I can’t avoid it any longer.  but I’m just not there yet; I love breastfeeding too much.

Breastfeeding is so convenient.  If the baby is hungry you just have to find the nearest bench and sit down.  No preparation time, no warming up… you don’t have to bring anything with you, and there are no dishes to clean.  Breastfeeding really is a gift from God to us busy, overworked mothers.

I realize that when you first start with food, it is only a little bit, and really just once a day.  The rest of the time I still get to breastfeed.  But everything starts small… it’s only a matter of time until I will be fighting with a toddler who only wants to eat bananas with ketchup.  I’m not ready for that!  I’m really not!

We are going to be traveling a lot in the next few months, and I’m also really not excited about dragging baby food on the airplane… I’ve got to admit, it makes breastfeeding pretty darn attractive!

God, why can’t you just slow down the clock a little bit?  I’m not ready for this!  She was just born yesterday!  What is happening to my tiny pink bundle of joy?!  Am I going to wake up tomorrow only to find that she’s turned eighteen?  Oh, the agony.

Olivia at 5 days old

Olivia at 5 days old

Olivia chewing on a toy

Olivia at 5 1/2 months – she is HUNGRY!


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