Thursday, July 21, 2011

S.M.I.L.E.//L.6: People Will Want to Feed Your Baby

Warning, a mama ranting (somewhat snobbishly) ahead!

Many people will think they are the expert about your child, and even though the sentiments seem to come from good places, sometimes I get plain annoyed or creeped out by some of the obsessions that get handed down. It seems people are adamantly interested in two things about babies: 1. how they sleep and 2. feeding them. All around me I hear:  I can't wait to feed her; When is she going to eat; Once she gets some food she'll really be happy; Oh she'd be better if she ate. There is something beautiful about sharing meals and I am a believer that cooking for someone is like giving them a bit of your heart and soul...but I also find it bizarre that so many people want to feed my baby random stuff, especially stuff that babies SHOULDN'T eat! I've heard cascades of: I fed it to so and so and they turned out fine; It's just ice cream; It's not going to kill her; Aw come on she wants it....WTF? Why is fine/okay or not killing someone the bar in which we set our standards and how the heck does someone know my child wants said food? It seems every time she puts her fingers to her mouth people insist she really wants food. Insert rant: She is an infant, they put everything in their mouth because it is one of their most developed tactile senses to connect to this world AND because of obvious things like teething--yet for some reason many people assume the only logic for any of her typical babyisms is that she wants food. As in something other than breastmilk.

This lesson will correlate with some others I will sooner or later write about, but I find it more pertinent since I am one of the radicals who is following the advice of some "random pockets" like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and even (gasp) The American Academy of Pediatrics (to name a few) and...wait for it...delaying solids. From the reactions of family members (and outsiders) one would think I was the Grinch. How dare I look out for the ultimate health of my child and sacrifice to maintain a breastfeeding relationship? What a tyrant I am keeping something that has less nutritional value and interest from my babe! I know, horrible.

I found this photo here
There have been many pressures, raised eyebrows, talk-downs, and outright confusion from some about my decision to breastfeed to begin with (oh I will get to that some day) so naturally the fact that at nearly six months into Addison's existence I am still breastfeeding makes some almost aggravated and impatient. Besides the studies that have been conducted, my ultimate theory is to relax. Time goes by so quickly that I am in no rush to speed any developmental milestone up. Truth, I now enjoy having a breastfeeding relationship, but I also enjoy food and look forward to bit by bit incorporating food into Addison's experiences. However, I know my child and I study up-- A LOT. First, she just isn't interested. I let her smell what I eat, I give her her own (baby safe) fork and bowl to 'eat' with me, I watch for all the cues. As you can gander from my last post, my parenting philosophy is a bit intuitive, meaning I use her as my key text. She is just approaching what is considered ready to start and enjoy solids--for instance her tongue thrust reflex has only dissipated in the last few weeks. Addison has only just begun noticing food at all....and I am noticing this NOW, me, the person with her 24 hours a day...so naturally when someone else assumes I am not being receptive I became a little incensed.

I'm so deprived of food I'm forced to eat my fingers.
The deeper truth is that I have long suffered from stomach ailments (even worse off is my poor sister) and have a slew of unfortunate food (and everything else) allergies. Not only does this put my child more at risk for allergies, but it puts me in a position to want to prevent whatever I think I can. I often wonder what life would have been like had my parents been more considerate of nutrition and child development. I understand information wasn't as readily available to them, but it IS for me (yes, I am a google addict). Ultimately, (and I cannot stress this point enough) every parent needs to find what works for them and needs support along the way. The paradox of being a good parent is that you will guilt yourself about everything and want to do everything, read everything, fix everything for your child. So I wonder, why are people so obsessed with having to feed my baby? Why are so many invested in proving me less in tune to both my child and research than I actually am? Why are people in such a rush?? Nom nom nom.

Here is an article that I find very useful from Cafe Mom. If you are like me and occasionally stalk the comment forum, you will find plenty of posts to hurray and quite a few that will make you wonder why so many bitter people exist.


  1. I'm right there with you! I'm delaying solids till 9 months (which means my daughter will be starting in a few weeks!) and I'm not doing grains till 1yr or so. Of course though, delayed solids isn't the norm YET so people think I'm crazy. Oh well.

  2. Hey Brittany! Kudos to you! I am contemplating giving her a test run of some homemade sweet potato on her six-month birthday to test the waters but I see food as an adventure now, not as something she's being deprived of! haha. Best to you on the feeding journey :)