Monday, July 14, 2008

Feeding Babies and Toddlers

We have a firm no "real food" policy until after 6 months. I know the pediatricians recommend starting cereal, etc. at 4 months, but I don't see the point. Most babies don't have a bit of interest in eating at that age. It's just fun for the Mommy. I admit, I've been tempted. (My scrapbooking mind knows that my baby propped up in his highchair taking the first bite would a great picture!) We also eschew popular trends and have yet to use a bottle (even for expressed milk) with any of our babies. Of course, we're asked, "Then how do you and hubby get a night out if no one can feed the baby but you?" The answer: We can't and we don' least not until they are old enough to be content with something besides Mama's milk. So here's a look at our children's eating habits from birth through toddlerhood.

We start out with exclusive breastfeeding. No formula supplements, no water, no pacifiers. Our first two did take a paci when they were several months old (after b/f was firmly established) but both gave it up before a year. We chose never to offer Owen a paci at all. I always read about how breastfed babies need to eat every 2-3 hours. If I were only so lucky. Mine always eat at least once an hour in the beginning. Makes it hard to even take a shower. I became quite skilled at folding laundry while nursing, but that is beside the point! We also co-sleep with our babies so they nurse often at night, too.

At four months, the pressure is on. The doctor starts suggesting solids, the strangers start asking...but we resist. Gavin didn't take his first bite of anything until 7 months, but hated it! He didn't start eating a regular meal until 10 months old. Maddie was also 7 months when she had her first solids and she liked to eat right away. She has never been picky. She's my child who will try anything. She loves to eat-- even crumbs off the floor and any stray bite Owen leaves in his bowl! Owen was closer to 8 months when we offered him his first solids.

We have never used baby cereal. Sometimes I will grind own oatmeal and use that mixed with water or breastmilk. Usually, I just offer fruits and veggies, though. Anything soft and smushy will do. I've never bought jarred baby food either. Maybe I'm too thrifty. Maybe the jarred stuff just turns me off. I don't know. I've just never even considered buying it. I bought a baby food mill with Owen (for $9.99 at Toys 'R Us) that was great.

It grinds any soft food (bananas, beans, peaches, etc.) into baby food consistency (with better taste!). It's not a big deal because I just give the baby some of what we're eating. I don't have to cook a "baby meal" every night. Occasionally, if I grind extra of something, I will freeze it in an ice cube tray and thaw a bit for baby if I don't think they will like what we are eating.

Since we start solids so late, it isn't long before our children are ready for something beyond puree. Cheerios, bread, cheese cubes, shreds of chicken...

I continue to nurse through this time. The nursing do get spaced out, but I have frequent nursers. Because we never introduce a bottle, we go straight to sippy cups. We offered Gavin water in a sippy cup sometime in his second six months. He had his first juice at about a year. Maddie didn't drink anything besides breastmilk until a year. Owen was the same way, but he never could figure out how to use a sippy cup so we taught him to use a cup and straw.

So how about those dates with hubby? For awhile, we are content with dates with baby. It is not that hard to take a nursing baby out. Pop him/her in the sling and they are content. Eventually, the kids are ready to spend a few hours with Gran and Papa (and Aunts Kati and Bekah). It really depends more on emotional stability than nutritional needs. Gavin and Maddie were 8 and 6 months respectively. Owen didn't get left alone without Mama and Daddy until 10 months old...and that was after he was asleep for the night.

I practice extended breastfeeding so nursing continues into toddlerhood. It definitely takes a backseat to table food, though. Everyone is expected to sit with the family at meal times. No getting out of your seat when you're done. That is hard to enforce with 18-month-olds (ours have all rejected the highchair not long after their first birthdays), but it is necessary for good long-term habits.

I'm not saying my ways are the only ways. That's just the way we have chosen--the way that works for us. Happy eating!


  1. Its nice to know that I am not the only nursing momma that has had a baby nursing every hour on the hour! I'm sure you've read, Peanut hated a pacifier until about 4 weeks ago. Same with a bottle. Bottles are only used as "in case"... like if he decides he doesn't want to wait the "3 hr feeding" schedule- which we really don't have. Peanut also dislikes most baby food in a jar. I only use the jar stuff when we're in between grocery store visits and we've eaten all our veggies and fruits. We only go once every 2 weeks, so the fresh stuff doesn't last that long. :) I also agree with you not introducing solids to babies... they don't like it. Mine never did at 4 mos. Peanut has just now gotten into food and is angry and still hungry if I don't give him his two meals in a high chair. :) Funny kiddos!

  2. oh. and i love our baby food mill! so quick and easy!

  3. Personally, I love what you have chosen to do. You should see peoples faces when I tell them that we insist on nursing our children for at least a year. They are aghast! lol
    I proudly support your choices and think that anything you are doing in obviously in the best interest of your babies and therefore is RIGHT FOR YOU! Thanks for giving me some great tips too!
    BTW, I am going to have to go and get that grinder!!!

    MANY, many blessings to you-

    P.S. One thing I love about being a stay at home mom-my childs nursing needs never have to suffer because I have to leave and go to work.

  4. Hey there! I am really enjoying your blog. Sounds like we have VERY similar philosophies on many subjects...

    Lucy didn't try solids until 8 months, and hated them. She started eating them really around 10 months, but that was after I was pregnant with Ben and my milk started drying up. She is still nursing.

    Ben is almost 5 months and he definitely wants to is pretty amusing to watch him watch me eat. But I am resisting the temptation, and will test the waters in a month. We'll see how that goes.

  5. I came back to read this because of your most recent post... when I told G's (new) pediatrician that I delay solids until one year, he said, "Good luck!"


    I just laughed, and said thanks. My G eats every 5-6 hours, and has done so for months; when I look at his thighs, I know he isn't hurting for nourishment!

    Thanks for sharing and encouraging!


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