When I was pregnant with our daughter in 1990, it was the heyday of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. No more Dr. Spock, thank heavens. While I had had a big hand in raising my younger siblings, I had no idea about having a baby and only my mother’s horror stories to listen to.
Organic food was just starting to make a wider appearance in the markets where we lived and I jumped on the bandwagon. I went through the whole time with no caffeine, which meant giving up my beloved black tea. I went without bacon, because there wasn’t any available at that time which was nitrate free and, because there was a salmonella scare where I lived, I ate only scrambled eggs. I avoided onions, garlic and chili. Incredibly boring.
What I did know is that I intended to breast feed, no matter what it took and I joined La Leche League long before she was born. I did, indeed. have the same problems as my mother, but with the members’ help, we managed.
Due to the food sensitivities that ran rampant in my family, I was determined to breastfeed solely for the first year. And although I had to fight my in-laws and I did end up supplementing with the occasional bottle of formula (my daughter weighed over ten pounds and was 20.5 inches long at birth), we pulled it off. In case she had the same metabolic disorder that plagued my family, I wanted to give her the best and easiest start in life possible.
When we began to introduce solid foods, we at first followed traditional suggestions. Hot cereals first, but no wheat. We started with oats, because oats are a huge part of both of our ancestral heritages. We followed up with rice cereal and then moved to fruits.
Traditional methods of introducing solids follow this pattern:
- Orange Vegetables
- Green Vegetables
Except for the cereals, we totally reversed this pattern. The initial introduction of fruit led to immediate diaper rash. So we tried yellow vegetables, carrots first. Same thing. We went on to green vegetables and, lo and behold, no rash.
We gave it several weeks before we re-introduced yellow vegetables and even longer before we tried fruits again. With fruits, we started with blueberries, which again are an ancestral fruit for our family. All went well with this plan, until we hit strawberries and tomatoes.
When I was little, strawberries gave me hives. This was one thing I passed on to my daughter. Eventually, we grow out of it.
Every time she ate anything with tomato sauce, she broke out in a rash wherever it touched her skin. Babies are messy, so you can imagine. All I could think about was, if it’s doing this to her skin, what is it doing internally? So no tomatoes until she was quite a bit older.
For the first few months, I made my own baby food, then Earth’s Best Organic Baby Foods came on the market and we had a wider choice available to us. Easier to travel too.
Our daughter weaned herself at eighteen months and moved right on to forty ounces of organic whole milk a day from a bottle. I really tried to get her to use a cup, but she threw it across the room after the first taste and I just didn’t have the energy for that.
She later told me it was because it tasted different coming from the cup than from the bottle. Given that she can name different types of pasta solely by taste today, I believe it.
In the long term, she has had very little difficulty with food sensitivities as an adult and I believe it was our approach to feeding which accomplished that.
As a nurse in the teaching hospital we were stuck in for several days after she was born said to a group of her students, “Listen to and respect the mother. She knows her child best.”
Don’t hesitate to switch things up, if it suits your child better. As long as they are eating nutritious food, they will be fine. Track nutrition over the period of a week, not day by day and you’ll find yourself more relaxed about their food intake.
The best lesson I learned from the women of La Leche League was that you will have enough battles with your children. Don’t make one of them about food.