Monday, March 21, 2011

Nursing, Cereal, Choices, and Weird Parents

Gerber Cereal, Rice Single Grain with VitaBlocks, 16-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)
Last night at church a friend asked me if I've given Miss Lili any rice cereal yet.

"Um, no," I said. I hesitated only a second, "And I don't really plan to. I figure we'll just wait until she can eat from the table."

This is a good friend so she didn't immediately scream or threaten to call Child Protective Services or anything like that. But she had The Look on her face.

I've seen The Look before from other people.

"You have how many children?"

"You homeschool?"

"You don't work?" Sometimes accompanied by the variant non-question, "Well, that's nice that you can afford to stay home."

Or, well, for any number of other things or behaviors that Philip and I have chosen.

That word chosen is the operative word. Back when Polly was the baby, lo those many years ago (almost a decade!), we gave her baby cereal as soon as the pediatrician gave the all clear - somewhere around 4 months old.

We've done the baby food thing with each of the girls (well, I generally made my own baby food instead of buying those cute little jars, which caused The Look to appear a few times) but each time we started a little bit later. With Sweet Pea's eczema problem, there was legitimate concern about food allergies so we carefully introduced one thing at a time (Rice Cereal to Oatmeal to Sweet Potatoes to Carrots to Green get the idea. And we were always oh so careful with all our girls to introduce veggies first - because that was the "right" thing to do).

So here's where we are now: we have made choices that mean I stay home with the girls. (I hate that, "it's nice you can afford it" thing. We afford it because we make the choice to afford it. We choose to live on Philip's income. We're not independently wealthy or trust fund babies.)

Because I stay home and pretty much take my baby wherever I go, I've never had to worry about expressing milk. I tip my hat to the moms that do - I seriously think my sister was amazing for how long she provided for Fen after she went back to work - but I have never had to do that or had any desire to do so.

Therefore, my girls have never taken a bottle. The few times we tried to give them bottles, they each acted like we were killing them and could we please cut it out. (Most recently when Lili was sick the pediatrician gave us a bottle to try and give her Pedialyte. Let's just say it was not a fun experience for Lili or us.)

Despite the anecdotal evidence proffered by an older generation of parents, there is no correlation between starting cereal and sleeping through the night. The milk from Mama (can you tell I am trying to avoid a blog post with body parts mentioned in it?!) is higher in calories than rice cereal. And, though I do not wish to make any mother feel guilty because everyone's life and challenges are a little bit different, nursing provides the perfect food for babies. Almost like God designed it that way or something.

So I nurse until the baby weans herself (Actually, it seems to occur naturally as a mutual decision). This usually happens sometime around one year old or a little older. I have never nursed a toddler, not that I wish to judge that practice either.

Somehow, in nearly a decade of parenting, shoveling watery gruel or mashed up peas down a propped-up infant's gullet has lost its charm. Cute photo-op? Yes. Meaningful? No. (Not to mention the pain of cleaning it off the baby's face, the high chair, the bib, the floor...) And, after ten years and four different little girls, I'm much more confident in deciding what works for us.

Lili can sit up in a high chair now. I suspect it won't be long before she starts grabbing food off the table. In the meantime, our friends and acquaintances can just chalk up one more way their friends the Charming family are weird. We're used to it. {wink}


Elisabeth said...

Baby Abigail will be the first of my three kids to not have to go to a babysitter's (mamaw) when I go back to work. I'm looking forward to doing some things differently, including nurse longer than 2 months and attempt to make my own baby food. It will be like the first child all over again in some aspects!

Anonymous said...

Your answer surprised me...I'm not sure if I gave you "The Look" or not, but I would love to talk more about how you came to this choice. I'm 5 months behind you, as you know, with my newest. I also dread all the mess and inconvenience involved with making baby food and feeding a baby. Have you read much on the subject? I do hope other readers comment...I'd love to hear what other moms are doing.

MacKenzie said...

And you still get cute photo ops when you skip the peas. I've taken a pictures of Lucy every single time she has eaten spaghetti, I just can't help myself.

And I look forward to seeing cute baby eating pictures of Lili - whenever the time comes :-)

Anonymous said...

Good post! :-) Add cloth diapers to that list..."The Look" really intensifies! LOL!! I'm planning to do BLW this time too. With my first I just started out with cereal & applesauce at 3.4 months. Not doing (didn't do) that again!!


Julie Munroe said...

I just love you. You are smart and honest and funny. And I admit that I am scared to death of not using a bottle with a baby... I will be calling and emailing you when I am ready to have my first. All of the women in my family have bottle fed and baby food fed their babies, but I am always interested in better ways to do things, although all babies have been perfectly healthy. So yeah, I will be keeping in touch. :)

Julie Munroe said...
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Julie Munroe said...
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Julie Munroe said...

I love posting the same thing multiple times. It really makes a point. :)

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