Food fights

Kiddo is almost a year now and I never thought I would say this, but I kind of long for the days when he was 100% mama fed. I've felt like a dairy cow these past 11 months (especially when hooked up to the pump -- there is no more humiliating device in all the world) so I REALLY never thought I would say that.  Nursing is hard, but figuring out how to add solid food -- the right food, healthy food -- is full of its own challenges.

Part of what is so hard about this solid food transition is that there are no steadfast rules to follow. The first 6 to 12 months of baby feeding are pretty idiot proof -- just nurse all the time. Numerous studies show that the healthiest thing for mama and baby is to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of the child's life, then continue to age 2 or until either mother or child do not wish to continue (check out http://www.kellymom.com/bf/index.html for information on the importance of breastfeeding.) Done. No problem. But at 6 months, when you start adding "real" food in to the rotation things aren't so cut and dry. 

First off, we're really lucky. My son is a great eater. He'll eat vegetables, fruit, meat, cereal, bread, yogurt, anything. I honestly can't think of one type of food he's ever refused (just like his mom). But I have no clue how "crunchy" I should be when it comes to his diet.

I know I can't afford to get everything organic. We tend to follow the rule of the organic "dirty dozen". It's a list of the foods you absolutely must buy organic -- find it here http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214. And once he starts on whole milk (he'll either do goat or cow, I haven't decided yet) we'll definitely do that organic. But beyond that I don't know... Meat? Eggs? Cheese? I know I should get these things organic -- and cage-free, grass-fed, locally-sourced... you get the idea... But damn. It's expensive. If it comes down to organic eggs or our gas bill -- I gotta go gas bill.

Once you decide WHAT to feed your baby you have to decide HOW you're going to feed it to him. A lot of natural parenting advocates go the way of baby-led weaning (BLW). Parents who practice BLW give their 6 months+ babies the food that they eat. Literally. Having steak, potatoes and green beans? So is Junior. The thought behind it is that when a baby is ready to eat table food they will swallow. Until then, they will just gnaw at and play with the food. I know people who swear by BLW and think it's awesome. I'm too much of a paranoid freak and didn't do it.

Not doing BLW means we gave kiddo baby food. If we were truly good hippie parents we would only give him HOMEADE baby food. Yeah, not so much. That's why I'm crunchy(ish). We make a lot of his food. We've made our own brown rice cereal, sweet potato, carrots, spinach, banana, avocado, apple, plums and pears. And if I can do it, any one can do it. It's not hard, just time consuming. And there's only so much time. So we've also given him the stuff from the jar. And I just have to be OK with that.

One of the challenges of feeding a breastfed baby is that you're always fighting to make sure they get enough iron. Since natural parenting mamas don't give their babies iron-fortified formula or pablum and the iron surpluses that babies are born with start to dwindle around the 6 month mark, it's extremely important breastfed babies eat a balanced diet full of iron-rich foods. That means plenty of green veggies and meat for my guy. He has no problem with that, but I know people whose little ones are very picky eaters so they struggle with anemia and have to take supplements. The supplements can be constipating, and no one wants that :-(

Yet another way I fall short of hippie perfection is that I give my baby Gerber products. Oh the humanity! The social irresponsibility! For anyone who doesn't know, Gerber is owned by Nestle and there is a pretty big boycott going on against Nestle because of their unethical baby formula marketing strategies in third world countries. To learn more about the boycott go to http://www.breastfeeding.com/advocacy/advocacy_boycott.html. I do think what the company did was awful, but my kiddo love those little puffed rice things, and I can find them in my neighborhood supermarket.

But the ultimate, super-duper big issue that makes feeding kiddo challenging is that both of his parents are... shall we say... not petite... and I really don't want him to have weight issues. I know that the eating habits of the parents are the number one indicator as to whether or not a child will have healthy eating habits. The rule of thumb is that by one year-old kids can pretty much eat anything (unless food allergies run in the family). That means no more one meal for baby and one meal for mama and daddy. We can all eat the same stuff. And that scares the crap out of me. Sure, we like fruits and vegetables and whole grains at our house. We cook most of our meals at home and the majority are made from scratch... But there are french fries in my freezer... And cookies in my pantry... As picky and anal-retentive as I am about what kiddo eats -- I'm not at all like that about what we eat. And that's bad. I know it.

What's a mama to do? There are so many hurdles in the dietary road of a child. It's a big responsibility to have to teach someone how to take care of themselves and fuel their body for the rest of their lives. All I know is when my little guy has cake for the first time on his first birthday next month it'll be organic(ish).


  1. do you have any small market that are owned by amish or anything like that around??? i cant think of the correct name for those type places but there is one by me and you can get organics eggs for $1 a dozen, and meats by bulk for super cheap. you can get 1/4 or 1/2 cow cut in all different way for wayyyy cheaper than buying it the super market (you just need the freezer space and of course it cage-free grass fed blah blah blah meat (lol). just a thought!! bc i hear ya on the expensive part!! i refuse to buy organic meat from the grocery bc in my head im thinking RIPOFF!!!!!! love your blogs they make me chuckle and i totally relate!

  2. I don't know that we have any little markets around that do that kind of stuff but when I went to the farmer's market in the summer and fall I met some local farmers who do similar things. I don't know how much cheaper it actually was, but it definitely seems better giving the money to the farmer instead of to Whole Foods. And the quality seemed better. I think I need to find some kind of co-op. Thanks for the tips and kind words!

  3. I don't have kids yet, but I get to see lots of different parenting styles in my classroom, and it's made me think a lot about my parenting philosophy. You're right, we tend to be much more careful about things we do for our kids than what we do for ourselves, and I've already started changing things that we do because I know I don't want my kids doing that.

    Please keep blogging, because when I start having kids, I'm taking notes on everything you're doing! I love the balance you have between healthy, conscientious parenting and practical convenience. :o)

  4. It's crazy how we do that, right? How we expect and want so much better for our kids than we do ourselves? It is fine if I eat artificially sweetened yogurt or processed chicken, but I wouldn't let kiddo eat it. Weird. Weird what our brains can justify.

    I love that you used the word conscientious. It's really what it is. Just being really deliberate and intentional with every decision you make. Why... I may just blog about that :-)

  5. I can definitely relate to the worries that come with starting solid foods. Mine is not quite 10 months, but recently I've slowly been adding complementary foods and obsessively researching to try to figure out how to do it. Funny how your standards change when it's for your children, huh?

    (Speaking of unsolicited information ... hahaha ;)
    If it makes you feel any better, I worried about iron, too, and really thought my babe was going to be anemic, because I can't get her to swallow that much solid food (and what she does eat is vegan), and I was borderline anemic until midway through my pregnancy. Two weeks ago, I had them check her iron levels at the doctor's office and her levels are totally normal! While our milk isn't super rich in iron, the iron in it is so bioavailable!


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