I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a long time.
Many of my friends with babies may roll their eyes at this post since I’m sure that most of them have already heard me go on and on about this book and “highly recommend it” several times. But that can’t be helped…Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck is one the best baby books I’ve ever read and I think that every mother should read it! Very informative, funny, laid-back…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
When Cedar was about five months old, he started getting very interested in our food and would get upset when we would eat and he couldn’t have any. I knew that general baby knowledge said you shouldn’t start your baby on “solids” until they were at least six months old, but for the peace of our dinner table, I fudged a little. As Cedar didn’t have any teeth yet, I bought two mesh feeders to be stuffed with assorted fruit (usually peaches since it was stone fruit season here) and he was a happy camper. Gnawing, sucking and banging it on the table…I am forever thankful to whoever invented those things.
But I knew he wouldn’t be happy with that forever, though I wasn’t sure where to begin with the seemingly overwhelming task of “starting your baby on solids”. I really didn’t like the idea of store-bought baby food, so super-processed with who knows what, but the idea of making my own baby food and pureeing it all seemed like a lot of unnecessary work. And the baby books that I had read gave such a limited list of what a baby could eat once you started them on solids. But what to do instead?
Then, one day, while browsing a natural eating blog that I enjoy, I came across a link to Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two and Baby’s First Foods. The title and sub-title intrigued me and when I saw that Amazon had it majorly discounted (as they do again…under $7!), I immediately ordered it and waited impatiently for it to get here. As soon as it arrived, it jumped to the head of my nursing reading list and I devoured it (no pun intended). I obviously had ordered it mostly for the “Baby’s First Foods” part, but I found the fertility diet stuff fascinating as well.
My feeling upon finishing the 270 pages of information…relief. This whole starting your baby on solids thing wasn’t nearly as complicated as I had originally thought it was. Basically, I just needed to feed my baby real food…fruits, veggies, full-fat dairy, good meats. After a baby is six months old, their intestines are no longer porous so the odds of giving your baby an allergy by feeding him something too early are quite low. And the food doesn’t have to be pureed and passed through a strainer. Babies already have an incredibly sensitive gag reflex and will automatically keep large chunks toward the front of their mouth. So just make it manageable and keep an eye on them. Planck recommends keeping your baby off grains until they’re at least a year old as a baby’s digestive tract can’t really handle them until then.
And so we began. Cedar was eager to try anything we would give him and there was little he didn’t like. One of his favourite things was to gnaw on a piece of steak, sucking all the juices out of it and getting little flakes of meat off. When he finally got some teeth around six or seven months old, feeding him got even easier. He ate what we ate. The only thing he hasn’t tried yet is oily fish (salmon, trout, etc.) as Aaron is allergic to those and we aren’t sure if that was passed on to Cedar. As recommended, we tried keeping Cedar off grains until he was one, but that ended up being a lot harder than we thought it would be (since he was eating whatever we ate, and a portion of our meal almost always included grains) and so it only lasted until he was seven or eight months old. However, introducing him to grains didn’t seem to adversely affect him at all and now one of his favourite things to eat is a slice of cold sprouted bread!
We often get comments on how good of an eater Cedar is. This is something that I’m incredibly thankful for as he had to transition to mostly solid food sooner than most babies as my milk supply dropped when I got pregnant again. And though I realise a good part of that varies from kid to kid, I sometimes wonder if it was affected by the fact that, from the beginning of eating solids, he always ate quite a variety of foods and hardly any that were prepared specifically for him. As such, he’s always anxious to try something new and there are only a few things he doesn’t like. It will be interesting to see if this carries over into his childhood and also how our other children respond to this method of eating.
While thinking about our “solid food journey” with Cedar for this post, I’m very thankful that God “led” me to read Real Food for Mother and Baby when I did. Planck takes such a laid-back approach to feeding your baby solids (and to nursing and other aspects of natural mothering) and finding such information really helped to simplify things for me as a new mom, anxious to do everything right. And I’m sure that though he doesn’t know it, Cedar is very thankful too…or else he never would have gotten his steak!