I think I think too much…

So at our 4 month check up with Levi, our pediatrician said that we could go ahead and start “solids”, meaning cereal, either rice or oats, mixed with breastmilk. He has good head control, can sit unaided (in the tripod) and regular sitting with only us helping to stabilize him, and can transfer objects from hand to hand. He is also “chewing”; his favorite item to chew is ducky’s bill. But he’s not very discriminate. He’ll chew my hair, grab a handful of Chloe fur and stick that in his mouth (NO! Levi, puppy doesn’t like her hair pulled), and anything else within reach. Anyway, I’ve been mulling (and researching) this “starting of baby foods” over for the last week.

After our peds appointment, we went to our friends house whose baby is one week older than Levi and doesn’t have near the muscle control or hand eye coordination that Levi has and she is being spoon fed rice cereal mixed with breastmilk, per her pediatricians suggestions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this; many moms choose this route. I’m just not sure it is the route for me.

The first thing that strikes me, though, is that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the WHO, and the Canadian Ped Assoc. all recommend that babies not be given solids until 6 months. Why then, does my board certified Pediatrician say that we can start solids? In her defense, she did say that we “could if we wanted to, but there is no hurry”. He is gaining well, and doing fine on breastmilk exclusively. She did NOT say that we should start them. But I am still curious as to why she wouldn’t just tell us to hold off on solids until we are closer to the six month mark.

The next thing that strikes me is that rice cereal is pretty much textureless and tasteless. If the purpose of cereal is to get them used to accepting different tastes and textures, why would you start with something so appallingly bland? I’ve taste-tested this theory. Rice cereal mixed with breastmilk tastes like, well, breastmilk. Hmmmm…. And theres not a lot of texture there either. I think he gets more texture from the afforementioned Ducky’s nose (and every other stray object that he can bring to his mouth!).

Admittedly, I’ve already “started” him on some solids. We’ve given him a banana to hold and he gummed on that for a bit. I’m not sure any of it made into his system, but he did have fun. I have given him bits of avocado (that is very hard to get out of burpclothes after it’s turned brown, btw!) and again, I’m not sure how much ended up inside, but a lot ended outside. 🙂 I’ve given him a few cheerios, which I think dissolved into oblivion and *may* have gotten into his system. But I’ve yet to try to give him any amount that would make any nutritional difference, as per the WHO and AAP guidelines. Besides, I’ve got so much milk that I don’t want him eating less!!!

And so I continue to ponder this question of starting solids and have even posted to a mommy forum I’m on. I am a member of two mom’s boards. One is of mom’s of all different aged kids in the Michigan area. The other is one that has moms of babies born in March ’07 from all over the world. The March mommies are almost all feeding their babies rice cereal right now. There are a few breastfeeding mommies who are holding out to the sixth month mark. The information I glean from both boards is interesting. On the Michigan board tonight, I read a post that gave a link to an article regarding “Baby Led Weaning”. I almost didn’t read it because it is about “weaning”. I don’t want to wean, yet. As long as I am a milk machine, Levi will be “eating at Mom’s” to at least the one year mark. Anyhow, back to Baby Led Weaning (BWL), which by the way, isn’t really weaning, but introducing solids (which I guess is the start of weaning, but that’s a ways down the road yet).

BLW is essentially letting your baby have finger foods and letting them figure out how to feed themselves. BLW forgoes the route of cereals and purees altogether. It’s premise is that you should offer your baby the foods you eat, sans salts and sugars, in the traditional order: fruits and veggies first, then starches, then meats. The foods should be finger foods and soft enough for them to gum up on their own and big enough that they can grasp them easily and bring them to their mouths. The BWL philosophy is that when the baby is able to actually get the food into their mouths, if they are not ready to eat it yet they will be able to spit it out without choking on it; they won’t be able to put it far enough back in their mouth to overcome the tongue thrust reflex. When they are physiologically ready to actually swallow, the thrust reflex diminishes, and more importantly, their digestive systems matures to handle the new foods at the same time the thrust reflex goes away. Conversely, feeding with a spoon is parent led and the action of “sucking” the cereal off the spoon actually moves the food past the thrust reflex, making it easier to aspirate cereals or choke on them (so they say).

One could easily say that I am simply looking for articles that will justify what I want to do, which is forgo cereals. That is easy enough to do on the internet nowadays. I would suggest that thats not what I’m doing, but the BLW procedure is very close to what I was thinking. Only different. I just really didn’t want to do cereals. I was prepared to puree my own baby food when he is ready to get nutritional value from them; I even looked at purchasing more ice cube trays today for that very purpose. I was prepared to spoon feed. Now I’m not so sure. I like the idea of this BLW. I wouldn’t call it a new philosophy by any means. I’d call it a renewed philosophy. And it just makes sense to me. Isn’t that what our ancestors have been doing for centuries, before commercial baby foods, food processors, and blenders? My guess is that my reason for doing this is much the same as my reasoning for wanting to birth naturally, sans pain meds. It just seems more normal to me, more natural. It seems more normal for me to hand Levi a stalk of soft food from my plate than to spoon feed him a pureed, strained commercial baby food.

So I have yet to sell Keith on this idea, but to tell you the truth, I am rather excited about NOT pureeing and freezing batches of baby food. Much the same as I am so glad that I don’t wash out endless bottles and nipples and have to fuss with mixing and heating formula. Or maybe I am just lazy and want to take the easy way out – less mess, less work, introducing him to a real variety of tastes and textures… hmmm…. BLW, here we come! I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Who’d have thought my longest post ever would be on baby food! LOL. I seriously doubt any of you have made it to the end of my ramblings. Good night!

6 Replies to “I think I think too much…”

  1. I did! I made it to the end! If you’re looking for some help and support when/if you do BLW, come and see our group at http://www.babyledweaning.com. Oh, and if you’ve waited until 6 months you can introduce foods in whichever order you like. There’s an argument for starting with veggies because they’re easier, but on of the ladies on my site started her child on the family meal of spaghetti bolognese (and has the charming photographic evidence to prove it). Good luck, anyway, whatever you decide to do it’s always good to know that finger food is a-okay from 6 months. Evidently you are in America but the Dept of Health in the UK has put out literature advising finger food from the start. It’s on the site, have a look.
    Aitch x

  2. For the record, I did read the entire post, but verbosity is the bane of blogs. Crop, crop, crop. 😉

    We have a simpler approach to all this nonsense. Regardless of what the docs, pediatricians, and everyone else in the world has to say, we’re the parents and can do with our child as we wish.

    Some of Kayla’s most exciting times as an infant were sucking all the juice out of a hunk of daddy’s steak. You wouldn’t think that would be all that exciting but after mommy saw how much fun she was having, even she ceased to protest. Oh, and you wouldn’t believe just how grey and tasteless that hunk-o-meat can be after she worked it over.

    And the same goes for chicken wing drum’cicles. Take off any hunks the little tike could chew off and choke on and let ’em have it. They’ll get hours of entertainment out of it.

    As far as knowing when to start feeding them solids, you won’t have to wonder. When the infant watches your every bite with purpose and jealousy, you’ll know its time.

  3. Actually, Aitch, I did check out your site. It was part of my “research”, along with reading stuff from Gill Rapley that I could find. I didn’t realize there was a group there, though. Thanks!

  4. Oh, honey. I made it to the end, but barely! I think you are falling into the age-old momism (and martha-ism) of over thinking everything!! You have a beautiful, happy baby, and you are doing well! Everyone is going to have recommendations for you, but the fact is every person is different, and nobody knows your baby better than you do! He’s not going to fit into some norm, and if he does, he won’t stay in that norm. He may bounce from one to another. Bryanne had to be put on cereal at a little less than a month old because she was a voracious eater! I had to do what my baby told me she was needing! She also, managed a spoon earlier, walked early, and talked earlier than was average. Aria decided she didn’t like cereal and went straight to teething biscuits and other big soft foods and just started feeding herself when she was a few months older than your little one. Each one is different, and he’ll tell you when he’s ready. It sounds like he may be getting to that point!

  5. It took you having a baby to finally realize that you think too much?!? I could have told you that years ago… 🙂 Just relax and do your thing. Opinions are a dime a dozen, and no one is perfect. I am sure little Levi will survive any delish dish you create!

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