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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

thoughts on feeding babies - kids and eating part #1

little miss eating yogurt and fried egg yolk
 When little man was a baby I succumbed to the worst myth in parenting. Feed your baby rice cereal! I will help him sleep at night! He was one of these babies that took an hour of walking the hallway to get him to fall asleep. And then he would wake up. All. Night. Long. I was desperate to sleep. (little did I know that I wouldn’t be sleeping through the night still four years later. HA. I thought I was tired then!)

I tried switching his diapers (fleece instead of prefolds?). I tried cluster feeding (nursing a ton) all evening. So when I heard about the rice cereal thing. Uh. Sure, why not.

I strapped little man into his chair and started spooning. Fun right?

But it didn’t work.

This (rather cruel) myth is perpetuated by well-meaning doctors and grandmothers all around the country.

Sure it is fun to feed your little guy spoonful’s of rice, like a little bird. We find this as mommies to be an eagerly met rite of passage. Oh how sweet!

But, rice cereal? To sleep better at night?

Umm. It DOESEN’T WORK. What it DID do was give him constipation for months on end and totally, totally stressed me out.

Since those first spoonfuls I have come around to a whole new approach to feeding babies. For example, that rice cereal only fills up baby with empty calories. It offers no nutrients, no essential fats for brain development. So, umm, rather pointless. (And did I mention the constipation??)

I have to say, there are few things that I am "set in stone" about with parenting. I won’t say I am totally militant about this but…eh, kinda. I really hate to be “you-should-do-this-and-nothing-else” kind of person. I am not that kind of person. In fact, that is the whole point of this blog, right? A little bit of this, a little bit of that. There ARE a few things however that I feel, well, firmly about. I guess this is one? But like, with anything it is an ideal. Ideals aren’t always reached. My ideal is to have the kids in bed every night by 7pm. A goal to shoot for, which may or may not happen (Please God? HA.) (ETA: Oooh, it did happen tonight, lucky me!).

So, with that caveat in mind, let us continue (insert smiley face guy)

Basically, I love something between a Dr. Sears and  Weston Price/Nourishing Traditions combo.
In short, this is what we do for babies. (AGAIN, WHAT WORKS FOR US) Extend out breastfeeding. Start solids later (past six months, and more like 9 months. No one tells you but waiting is worth it. Why? Frankly, it’s a lot of work to spoon feed a baby several times a day! Why do it if its not needed yet? Plus, it gives their little bodies time to mature and get ready to use food. Meanwhile, especially while they are getting the good stuff –breastmilk- they don’t really need it.). Start by offering fats and cultured dairy. Avoid any grains, as long as possible. Avoid cow’s milk until age 2 or beyond. (Goat’s milk is a good alternative, it is much easier to digest!) Be simple. Let them feed themselves.

I started changing things with little man within a few months as I read more. Offering yogurt mixed with applesauce. Mashing up broccoli with a fork. I also limited sugar and juice until he was around two. (My family ridiculed me a bit for this. My father even said once to him, I would give you this cookie but your mama won't let you eat it! Cruel hearted mommy!! I have since eased up a tiny bit, HA.)

When little miss came along I vowed to do it differently from the get go. I offered avocado (good fats!). Mashed ripe banana (good enzymes!) Yogurt (good probiotics!) and egg yolk fried in coconut oil (so many good things about this!) and yes, liver pate (good protein!!) and not until she was 8 months old or so. Then of course a mixture of veggies (just slightly mashed what we were eating) and fruits. I think the first thing I gave her was mashed fried egg yolk mixed in yogurt. She never ate a single spoonful of jarred baby food!

Best advice about when to start feeding babies? Go with your instinct. If your baby isn’t interested in a food, or in eating at all, don’t push it. To determine readiness look for their interest in food, their ability to swallow, their ability to sit upright and ability to pick up bits of food. Then try.

Start with good fats and protein. Remember building blocks for a strong little one!

When they do start to eat, remember it can take like 20 times of trying a new food to easily accept it. Offer them tastes of things. Waiting until your child is older makes this easier. They can mash it into their mouths themselves with their fat little fists!

Once you purge your mind of rice cereal at 4 months kind of thoughts, it really is quite simple and intuitive.

So. If your baby is fixating with your eating and chomping his little gums to get a hold of some food, go for it! Chop up some avocado, fry up an egg yolk in coconut oil, mix up some pate (sooo easy to make!), sit back, and let him enjoy it! Your kitchen floor is never gonna be the same.

Next up: thoughts on feeding toddlers and preschoolers!


  1. I so wish I could do this over, especially w my firstborn. We had so much GI drama it's crazy, and we're just now starting to get it under control at age 8. I would totally have started out like this!!

  2. great post. we followed this plan with our second, and i too wish i could have a do-over with number one. i once heard someone say that rice cereal is the nutritional equivalent of white wonderbread...and who feeds their kids wonderbread anymore? makes so much more sense to start with nutritional powerhouses. it's also logical to feed babies solids when they can eat them on their own. surely our ancient mom-cestors didn't smash up foods and shovel them into babies mouths.

  3. ooh, tracy, that is a bummer! i was totally that kid and now of course have all my crohns stuff to deal with, i suppose another reason for wanting to start my kids off on the right foot...
    renee, totally with the wonderbread comparison!


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