I talked about my journey with baby led weaning and breastfeeding all 3 boys in Part 1. After any internal struggles and finding the conviction to trust your children to tell you when, how much and what to eat you’ll be ready to move forward with how to succeed.
When you breastfeed, the benefits are tremendous. Beyond the usual strong immune system and intellect, did you know?
- Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese adults
- Breastfed babies are more likely to be healthy eaters
I made a note on Paleo Hacks about this recently, and the note seemed to strike a note with people that hadn’t occurred to them before. My thoughts and research indicates it’s not just that breastfeeding moms are more likely to provide a healthier lifestyle; it’s because breast fed babies are almost always fed on-demand, which is another way of saying baby led. They learn the feeling of satiation and they are exposed to a multitude flavors from birth.
If you drive into babies heads’ the idea of manufactured, flavorless food being consumed in a certain quantity at a certain time, on repeat, that’s the message that develops in their brain into toddlerhood and then childhood and then adolescence and adulthood. Everyone knows a child that refuses the dinner put in front of them and demands food from a short list of their approved flavors. Imagine how their taste buds must’ve been trained to exhibit such behavior not socially learned at such a young age.
For those of you saying, “I had formula and I’m OK.” Me, too. Only I’m not OK. I want to eat flavorless processed crap and it’s a struggle for me to lose hundreds of pounds I gained by overeating. But, it’s obviously not going to be every case and every individual that can’t recover and learn what being satiated feels like. However, as our use of formula grows, so does our childhood obesity rates. It would be difficult to posture the two are completely unrelated.
So, what’s the solution? First, breastfeed your baby. If you’re struggling, don’t beat yourself up and feel like a failure! Look for local resources like La Leche League (I go monthly, we’re not blood sucking vampires, I promise), a Breastfeeding Center or contact your local hospital for post-partum doulas specializing in lactation consultation. What helped me, more than anything else, was supportive friends and family. I had a husband who was on-board, a MIL that had successfully nursed 4 boys and a “village” of friends who had endlessly helpful advice.
Second, don’t feed your baby any solid foods until they’re ready. Ready isn’t a loose term you decide on a whim. Evaluate your child, the same way you would if they wanted to drive a car. Here are signs of readiness:
- Baby is able to sit upright without support or assistance
- Baby does not have a gag reflex or tongue thrust when solids are given
- Baby is interested in food – not just “ooh, that’s colorful” but “I want to eat that!”
- Baby is able to grab food and put it to their mouth – fisting food and pincer grasp
- Baby and Mom have an extremely successful breastfeeding relationship, not challenged by latch, interest, thrush, clogged ducts or mastitis
You’ll notice I did NOT put on my list that baby has teeth or baby is a certain age. Some children don’t get teeth until after their first birthday and some 7 months old (like Cole) won’t hit all those milestones above, while other 5 month olds (like Finian) will exceed them.
Third, make your own baby food from the same food the breastfeeding Mom has been eating. No, I’m not kidding. That baby’s gonna go crazy for curry, if you love it. Each boy favored the same flavors I’d been eating. So, although I’m going to give a list of good “introductory” food and how to teach your baby to eat – this should only really be something you do for a few weeks, after that the baby should be fisting food into their own mouths. They do not need teeth to gum roast chicken!
Continue on to Part 3 for the food we made both pre and post-Paleo.