Wisdom Wednesday

Back to Basics Mothering

I am a parenting book junkie. Seriously. I can’t get enough. I’ve read pretty much every child-rearing theory book/article/etc. imaginable. Supernanny. Babywise. Attachment Parenting. Happiest Baby on the Block. What to Expect The First Year. Girlfriends Guide to Surviving The First Year of Motherhood. I am ashamed to say the list doesn’t end here…

I analyze things to death when it comes to parenting. Even mundane things, like fixed wheel versus swivel wheel jogging strollers. It’s bad. My poor husband has probably heard me say “We’ve been doing it all wrong!! We have to start doing THIS immediately!!” a hundred times, only to have me abandon my latest “this-is-the-new-way” enthusiasm just days, sometimes mere hours, later.

I find myself going with my own “philosophy” 9 times out of 10…one that I like to call “trust my gut”. See, the way I figure it, humanity has been having babies for a long time. A really long time. And before there were “parenting theories” there were parents, and there were babies, and that’s where the story ended. So I’ve decided not to stress, and to just do what feels right.

According to the little packet handed to me by my pediatrician at Joshua’s last well baby visit, there are some super conservative suggestions for when to introduce new foods. With my older son, the guidelines were a lot more flexible. The new recommendations were no berries until 18 months…no peanuts until 2 years old…no cheeses until 9-12 months. Yikes! Nate had had all of these things before 1 year old. However, when Joshua, our almost 9 month old, went on a full-on baby food strike at 7.5 months old, we decided to not stress and go with our guts. We stopped pushing the pureed foods, and let him have teeny bites of our food as he showed interest in it.

Now, this is certainly not to say this was right. Of course, no one thing is right for everyone. But with no family history of food allergies, we went for it. Joshua LOVED eating our food. He’s now totally off the purees and just eats whatever we eat (within reason). Today’s selection included Cheerios and fruit for breakfast, yogurt for snack, grilled cheese (in tiny, diced pieces) for lunch, and teeny bits of homemade pizza for dinner. Yum! No wonder he was totally over the strained peas! He only eats very small amounts, but he tries everything we think a person with 5 teeth could manage to eat.

Yesterday, a friend passed along this article from NPR about feeding solids to infants. Turns out, studies have shown that perhaps babies are meant to eat this way. Thinking about it, babies have been around for a lot longer than Gerber and Beechnut have been, and humanity actually did tick on without them.

So I think I will just attempt to put less energy into over-thinking my job as a mother and observe more. I enjoy thinking about my choices as a parent, and I certainly want to do the best I can in my role as Mommy. I honestly think there must be some sort of legitimate mother-sense that kicks in and guides us as far as “how to raise a child”, and I think my new philosophy will be to listen to it and confidently heed its advice. Until I notice a new book on the parenting shelf of my library, anyway 🙂

6 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesday

  1. Dena- you’re probably right! It has to just be cultural. I would imagine kids in cultures that prefer spicy foods just learn to eat them from a young age. My older son’s favorite food at 1 year old (and now still at 3) was hummus…haha. When you think about it, it makes a lot more sense and seems a lot easier to just give them what everyone else eats…

  2. I’m convinced that my kids are great, adventurous eaters now because we let them explore as babies and didn’t hold back. And we ate all at the same time… No kid dinner time and then adult time. They saw what we ate and wanted to try. We were a bit more cautious with Ava since she had reflux as a baby, but we just watched a bit closer. My kids eat sushi, indian, all italian, mexican, you name it they eat it!

  3. I agree!! When you really think about it, kids and babies need very little “stuff”. My 3.5 year old has spent literally hours sitting in a cardboard box fort these past couple of weeks, haha. I’m hoping I can actually relax more and enjoy!!

  4. It’s all about the advertising, gals. I was so brainwashed when my daughter was an infant, thinking I needed this, needed that, was doing her great harm by not purchasing a “cozy coupe.” It was only later that I realized that I had made my child the center of the universe, and she wasn’t. She–and I–were part of the universe. Still are. If I could go back, I’d skip all the anxiety and just enjoy. (She’s now a sophomore in college, which is great, but boy do I wish I could go back and cuddle that little bundle!)

  5. Thanks for writing this! My son is just over 6 months and he wants nothing to do with the purees that I have lovingly prepared for him. I was trying to coerce him into eating until he threw up and I had a moment of clarity – why am I trying to force feed him?? I then started reading more about Baby Led Weaning and it seems to make sense – give them little bits of whatever you are eating and let him have fun and explore the different textures (and tastes when he decides he actually wants to start eating!) Meals are much more enjoyable now that we have relaxed and decided to let him be in charge of putting food in his mouth. I agree that we have to trust our instincts – and I believe that babies have more fun if they get to try all of the different foods that we eat – spices and all!

  6. Your post is so timely; we JUST went through this ourselves! I had made all of Nora’s purees, which I enjoyed, and then we started introducing bits of our food as we thought she could handle it. Still, I was caught up in what “they” were saying I could and couldn’t feed her, and I felt like I was being overly cautious in my approach to feeding Nora, which didn’t feel natural. It felt so overthought. I just wanted my baby to EAT and explore food!

    Just days before her next well visit, Nora turned 9 months, and I took it as an excuse to follow my instincts and go with the flow. Instead of feeding Nora food prepared especially for her, I gave her bits of food straight from my plate, spices, sauces and all. It’s not like she devoured the solids all of a sudden, but I didn’t harm her either (allergic reactions are my big fear!)

    My approach was confirmed by Nora’s pediatrician this week at her 9 month checkup. Short of honey, she said, go for it. That means all the other foods I thought I should avoid like peanuts and eggs were now fair game. She advised to have some baby Benadryl on hand just in case, but that was the only caution. I loved hearing this and felt a sense of food freedom!

    Like you, I’m not saying this approach is right for everyone, but I completely agree that moms and dads develop these instincts about parenting and they just need to trust it. Thanks for the post!

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