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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Responsibly Starting Solids

The more I think about nutrition, I conclude we humans were probably meant to start eating solids closer to 8, 9, 10, 11 months. N0t 4-6 months. We ALL want to eat, too much, too soon, and too fast.

I'm left wondering if a cave women and nomad woman had a choice to hunt or go pick berries vs. rest and breastfeed, she would be delighted for her baby to go to the breast without first looking for it. Without Gerber conveniently staring you in the face (and a grocery store on every corner), telling you your baby will be iron deficient, mothers would be able to relax and enjoy breastfeeding more. If bottles and teats and processed treats weren't so readily available, the baby should be pretty eager to continue suckling at the breast beyond 6 months. I don't have proof, but I imagine the baby food industry is to starting solids as the formula industry is to breastfeeding, and as the meat and dairy industry is to influencing our adult diets.

Is there anything that matches living breastmilk when we replace it with food? I can't think of one. So keep breastfeeding. ( I am learning about healthier live choices for me, and I will post soon, but it's not what Gerber and the grocery store have in mind.)

A few things I would do if I had a six months old:

1. Make sure there was no processed sugar and flour in the first foods (or medication). There is no reason to start giving a baby sugar.

2. Fruits and veggies would be the first foods under normal circumstances. Not meat. Not dairy, except maybe organic or home-made yogurt (and no I haven't made yogurt). Not even Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.

3. Not let the relatives and sitters and older brothers pressure me to feed the baby sooner than the baby is ready.

4. Make the baby food.

18 comments:

Ann Marie said...

Your post comes at just the right time for me! I just started my little one on solids last week. Just a few bites a day of home made food. He doesn't really seem to like it. Silly me turned to a popular baby book to compare our progress. It only made me anxious. "Your baby should be eating several tablespoons of cereal 3 times a day by now. You should also be incorporating fruits and veggies with each meal."
So thank you. I will not be anxious. I will not force him to eat. I will only offer him foods. He is obviously getting all he needs already (have you SEEN my monster?:) He'll eat in good time. Thank you again.

fitncrafty said...

Denise.. great post!
This post reminded me of a section that I read in a book I got today... Becoming Vegan, by Brenda Davis Rd and Melina Vesanto.. they have a whole chapter devoted to pregnancy and lactation.. I was impressed. I can't wait to read more. (Brenda Davis is one of the speakers that I heard speak at the conference. I was so excited to find her book at the grocery store!)

TopHat said...

My babe turns 6 months on Monday. At the Farmer's Market today I was talking to her, "Which zucchini do you want? Doesn't matter, you get breastmilk!" The vendor I was buying the zucchini from asked me how old she was and was all, "You can feed her now!"

We're waiting until 8 months, I think. Why rush it?

And I think the 3 square meals a day is crazy. Adults shouldn't even get that- we should be getting 6 small meals. I except babies are similar.

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

My baby was interested in food at 4-5 months, but not interested in eating it until about 9-10 months. We started offering at 6 months, and I felt bad for waiting until then! Then I felt like I was doing something wrong because she wasn't eating. Now she's 20 months, and still doesn't weigh 20 lbs and she eats a wide variety of foods. I actually got in trouble with my pediatrician for breastfeeding her and feeding her such a healthy diet that she wasn't gaining correctly according to her chart. We've been struggling with this issue since she was 15 months old. It's hard to remain firm in your beliefs when your pediatrician is telling you how wrong you are and that you're harming your baby!

Permission to Mother said...

I have heard from many moms in practice with "underweight babies" being pressured to feed by their pediatrician. The pediatrician and the zucchini guy are all under the same influence of corporate america. I agree it is hard not to feed a baby with so much pressure around.

I find that many babies are interested in the texture of food around 4-6 months and that should not be confused with stuffing them.

I find that babies who are being exclusively fed at the breast are often very happy to delay solids beyond 6 months.

There are times when I am concerned about being underweight, but mom and I are also seeing symptoms as well.

fitncrafty said...

Deanna.... I read your post and it reminded me of my oldest. I had a lot of pressure to feed him formula and food because he was so small. (17 lbs at a yr) They wanted to do MRI's and Catscan's and they insisted that something was wrong. I nevver did any of it. He is 12 almost 13 now. Still has a tiny head and is very skinny; however he is in honors and accelerated classes and is develpementally on track. Just small. Unless you think there is problems just keep going.
Also, find a doctor that supports you. It is very important!

Lauren said...

Looking back, I'm glad that we started solids the way we did. Although I was a bit worried about Ruby not really eating until 10 months, I never pressured or forced her.

Now she eats different types of fresh fruit and veggies w/o much fuss. I don't have to mask them or hide them into her food. She eats 'em as is! (Mostly sauted in garlic & EVOO)

I even put a splash of fresh carrot juice into her water to get her used to the taste. I'm slowly increasing the juice:water ratio each time.

AM- I found those baby books and magazine articles on infant/baby feeding made me anxious, too. Now I just don't bother reading them.

Rixa said...

My daughter started eating solids at 10 months. She had tastes of a lot of things, but didn't start eating solids in larger quantities until after she was 1.

Kristen's Raw said...

I received your book that I bought on Amazon! YAY! I'm reading about your journey right now... just finished the chapter "A Letter to My Third Son"... so beautiful. I can't wait to get pregnant :)

I have a question, if you don't mind... at what point is it okay to start pumping breast milk so that the baby can be fed by both a bottle and still nurse naturally without getting confused by the two different nipples?

Thanks!!!

Permission to Mother said...

Hi Kristen,

I am so excited that you have my book in your hands! Before introducing a bottle, I would make sure your baby is thriving and breastfeeding is going very well--a part of your life and you are not thinking about everystep. For example, like in learning to drive, at first you think about turning the keys and pushing the gas. Before you know it, you drive without thinking about those things. However every baby is different. Introducing a bottle (or pacifier) is with risks.

I don't think there is a magic age. In my experience most babies are affected by it either directly or indirectly with mothers supply dwindling.

As you continue to read my book, I think you'll have a lot more insight.

I'm going to take this to the top of the blog, to give my other readers a chance to answer.

Kristen's Raw said...

Thank you for your insight. I inquired because I've been asked to speak at a women's conference in Jan 2010. It's possible that I'll have a baby in my arms by then and he/she could be anywhere between 1-6 months I suppose.

I'm not sure if it's a good idea to leave the baby with my husband and bottles of pumped breast milk or not. I don't want to bring the baby with me because it'll require flying in an airplane during the icky cold/flu season. And, I don't want to risk the baby losing the desire of natural breast feeding because of nipple confusion.

Permission to Mother said...

That conference is a big commitment. If you really think you'll have a baby who is under 6 months old, I would recommend not making the commitment (o other major commitments that pul you away from baby) until you know your baby's needs. In other words meet your baby, get breastfeeding and motherhood established and then make commitments as the new baby schedule allows.

kerbouchaud said...

I started to respond and got a little wordy and a bit off-topic so I decided to turn it onto a post on my blog instead.
check it out;
http://amountainbikersperspective.blogspot.com/2008/09/response-to-responsibly-starting-solids.html

Tam said...

Oh what a WONDERFUL post! I had to learn all this the hard way! I was feeding my first that dang rice cereal at like 4 months! Cause I didn't seem to have enough to satisfy (no wonder since I was also suplementing formula) Live and learn I guess! ;) With my last two children I threw away all "Parenting" magazines, bottles and never bought "baby food." My youngest who is two now didn't start on solids until 10 months then it was really just tastes of fresh whole foods. Mostly she was still nursing. I had more then enough milk. She has been my biggest, with the seemingly stongest immune system at her age of all my kids!

Mashed banans, peeled chopped up apples and peaches, mashed avacado, cooked brown rice, cooked quinoa, etc. All seemed to be great starters when I started feeding her solids. But really she was thriving and happy and probably only got the solids at 10 months because of curiosity from watching us eat. Like I said she mainly still nursed until probably 14 months when she started eating more and nursing less.

Mom knows best we need to go with our instinct! NOT those magazines! They are getting way too much infuence from the companies who place adds in them!

Thanks Denise for all you do!

womantowomancbe said...

I exclusively b/f both my kids till they were 6 m/o. I went a bit longer w/#1 because he didn't seem interested in food; but it was a struggle holding off that long w/#2 because he wanted it *so* bad. Somebody had given me a couple of jars of (organic) baby food their kids had outgrown, so I tried it w/#1 a couple of times, and he would never eat more than a bite or two. That was the sum total of processed baby food my kids had. No cereal or formula either. They went straight to table food.

When I started feeding them table food, if there was something they *could* eat (nothing too hard or spicy), I'd feed them bits of it -- mostly as finger foods -- small cubes of cooked carrots, for example. And if there wasn't, or if they were asleep while we were eating -- no big deal! -- I'd just nurse 'em when they woke up.

If anyone is interested in making their own yogurt, I've done it, and rather than repeat it here, I'll just link to my blog post about it. It's really easy!

-Kathy

Permission to Mother said...

I appreciate all thegreat replies.

Thanks, kerbouchaud, for respectfully taking your thoughts to your blog. I agree with you about following your intuition and that applies for a 4-6 month old, as well, that shows interest in solids.

I just want to make sure parents know that it is profit driven marketing campaign that usually make them feel guilty if they don't start baby food at 4-6 months (and physicians are often the front line warriors).

If the particular baby is ready for food, well follow your intuition, but not the commercials. Thanks for leading me into this point to furthur clarify.

Please chime in anytime or let me know you've posted a related topic on your blog. All the other things you bring up like league, homeschooling, and extended breastfeeding are pretty much covered else where on my blog.

Leanna said...

Thanks for this blog. I'm pretty set in following my baby's needs but my baby sure doesn't follow the average (if there is such a thing!) on this solids thing. I get a lot of negative comments from close family and friends about not pushing Tyler to eat, I just am not worried about him being a late eater. But it's nice to get a confidence boost from any Dr., especially the Dr. I use. :)

Sarah P said...

I had Jake a few months after your youngest, and I remember you saying something about delaying solids - all those years ago. I'm so glad I knew you and I am proud to say that Jake didn't have anything but breastmilk until he was 8 months old. My new little guy is 2 months old and won't have anything but breastmilk until he's ready - hopefully after 8 months!

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