Friday, January 25, 2013

From Milk To Table Food

TWO hour nap during errands today!
That's snow on the parking lot behind him.
Amazing how little snow days mean to me these days...
Going into this motherhood thing, I had a lot of knowledge to get me started. Between my education (a degree in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education), experience (nannying, working in child care and teaching) and witnessing my sisters go through it all with my 4 nephews and niece I new what to expect in a lot of areas. There are a few things, though ,that they don't teach you in school or people don't really talk in depth about. At least, not the people in my life. Sleep and nighttime parenting is one of those things. I feel like it is truly something you can only learn first hand. I definitely took notes during this first go around and have things I will do differently next time. Another thing I had to learn a lot about on my own was introducing and transitioning to solid foods. When? How? How much? Do you keep breast/bottle feeding? How much milk vs food? These are all questions I needed answers to and I have friends who have asked me the same questions. Here is what I have learned through my pre-baby research and through my experience along the way:

The first thing I would like to mention is that I will be referring to all food other than breast milk/formula as "solids." I will also take this opportunity to clarify that Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is still a very gradual weaning process. It is a self-feeding method that lets the baby control how much food they take in at their own pace.

When? A lot of people will give different answers to this. The general rule for introducing solids is waiting until your baby is 6 months old. Some doctors will tell parents to start giving rice cereal at 4 months. I, personally see all kinds of wrong with that (processed rice has very little nutritional value and 4 month olds cannot sit up on their own just to name a couple of concerns) but parents reserve the right to make their own decisions there. The rules I followed before introducing solid food to Ayden were 1) he could sit up on his own, 2) he had great hand/mouth coordination, 3) he became SUPER interested in our food and it also helped that his first two teeth came through around the 6 month mark.

How? We chose BLW but many families go the purées or "baby food" route. In the beginning of the journey to solids a baby's main source of nutrition needs to still come from breast milk or formula up until they are 1 year old. Because of this, I would make sure that I would breastfeed Ayden before every meal. I was worried that if i didn't, he could possibly fill up on solids and not get an adequate caloric intake of milk. Some people still are careful to introduce just one food at a time so they can keep an eye out for allergic reactions. That is not the BLW way so we did not worry about that since neither David nor I have a family history of food allergies. Since we chose BLW, we just gave him pieces of whatever we were eating. At first we cut food into 2 inch strips (1 inch for holding and 1 inch for nibbling). As he got older and his fine motor skills more coordinated, we started cutting everything into bite-size pieces. He is still really good at biting off small bites of food we share with him, though (banana, carrot sticks, etc). I cannot stress the level of skill BLW provides babies. Ayden NEVER stuffs his mouth too full or takes bites too big. He is an old pro at the eating thing. Now if we could just get him to stop dropping every other piece he picks up on the floor...

How Much? We totally let him lead the way since we use BLW. We start out with a small amount on his tray and as long as he is eating, we keep filing it. If he starts playing or throws it all on the floor we do not force him to finish the last little bite. I would say a child on purées would signal they are done at some point but it is difficult not to want to encourage that last little bite from the jar. Try to listen to your baby. If she "tells" you she is done, let her be done. The "clean your plate" mentality is not a healthy one and is probably partly to blame for our obesity epidemic. Ayden learning the sign for "All done" really helps us out in this situation. We do have a rule though, that him signing all done gets the food taken away but we don't let him down until one of us is finished eating too. We like the idea of everyone in the family hanging out around the table together for a bit each night.

Do you keep breast/bottle feeding? How much milk vs food? I have kind of already touched on the last three questions listed above about still feeding milk/formula and how much milk vs food. As I mentioned previously, a child needs to be on breast milk or formula for their entire first year. The idea for most, in our country anyway, is that you start introducing solids at 6 months old and then over the course of the next 6 months the ratio slowly shifts from more milk and a little food to a little milk and mostly food until the milk is phased out all together, usually around 1 year old. This is when whole cow's milk is typically introduced and encouraged to be continued until your child turns 2. Since our house is dairy free, I hope to nurse Ayden until he is 2 so he will continue to consume human milk instead of cow's milk. 1 year down and 1 more to go.

I hope this helps any parents out there who had similar questions about this very important milestone in your baby's, or future baby's life. Food and nourishment is so important and I was surprised about how little I knew about it all, even with all of my prior kid-related knowledge. If you have any further questions please leave them in the comments below. I am obviously not a professional but am always happy to share how we do things so it can be used as a point of reference.

What was something you knew very little about going into parenthood?


1 comment:

  1. I was actually just thinking today I needed to google "introducing solid food" since our pediatrician said we could start at 5 months.

    I've never heard of the BLW way, except for here on your blog.

    Thanks for sharing. And the funny thing is, I have a 4 year old, but it seems so long ago that he was a baby I've forgot a lot of things already!