I have been thinking about this recently and figured that I had better get my thoughts together since the way my memory is working lately, in a year it will all be forgotten again!
Food is an incredible gift. We have such a variety and easily accessible choice of foods in our society that there really is so much to be thankful for. With that variety, though, comes many detrimental habits that can very quickly become instilled in to our vulnerable little people. You all know what I am talking about - the habit of grabbing a bag of chips instead of an apple, or a chocolate instead of a few raisins - whatever it is for you, it is only going to be that much more difficult for your child when they are our age...Food isn't just food anymore - a high percentage of it is processed, refined, enhanced, enriched, great tasting (sometimes) 'substance' - a lot of it I don't even class as food. Now I am not going to give you all kinds of scary stats about Cancer and Heart Disease, Diabetes and Mental Health Issues etc. But suffice to know that these 'diseases' or 'symptoms' are on the increase - we are not winning these battles and as we continue to consume the way we have been consuming, in North America, then we are never going to win them. Nuf said.
Now - that is my heart. That is what I go to my battle with - as I begin to transition from exclusively breastfeeding to feeding my babies solid food - usually not till after 9 months old (I have researched and decided that their little tummies are much better at digesting foods after then- the later the better so I just up my intake so that baby gets enough from me, until I am sure we are both ready) Anyway, when I go to introduce foods in to them I don't mean that I am ready to fight them tooth and nail to eat - that only rarely has to happen - it is more that I am protecting them from other foods that I know are harmful (ie.icecream) or even not healthy/void of nutrition (soda crackers for example) and I am protecting them from caring friends/family who try to feed them these foods too. I think of them as this beautifully pure baby, and every time I have something on the end of that spoon, I imagine it either harming or benefiting my baby and that is how I decide what to feed them. So to start a baby of mine would have just vegetables - steamed (by me) and ground up with the steaming water so that it is a nice consistency. I do not 'do' pablum. Pablum was created in the 50s/60s or so by Heinz and it was a brilliant marketing scheme but it has not been proven to be beneficial or necessary for a breastfed baby and is highly processed. What did we do before then? Well, a long time ago, the mothers would chew up their own food and then spit it out and give it to the baby - that was the first baby food. I am not saying that we should all start doing that but just think about it - why do we have to have this processed powder in the first place? Many babies start with constipation/tummy aches when pablum is introduced. So, I go with veggies first, and then (real) meat and then maybe starches/fruit by 12 months or so - and always whole foods - now I don't mean Dempster's Whole Grain Bread either - read the labels! If there is a word in it that you can't read, then it is not healthy! (for you or for babe!) and very soon after that she/he just eats what we are eating, since our family makes healthy choices most of the time anyway...Oh yes, and food combining too - I don't give them fruit right after a meal - the fruit is much easier to digest and when it sits in the tummy with the food from the meal, you can have a very gassy baby, which no one likes - especially little babe...save the fruit for an hour or two after the meal and by itself.
Now, what got me thinking about this - Boo is 2 years old and I will have to say that she has been my most difficult baby to feed. I know that it is because I am busier, having 4 others to chase, and I have not stuck to my rules as strongly as I did with the others. I have let her have crackers and things earlier, or milk before or with a meal (that is another thing - kids will fill up on their milk and not eat, so cutting out the milk for a while can retrain those tummies). So recently I felt like all was lost with her but alas I would not give up! I went back to this other little strategy that has worked well with the kids that I have had to use it with...Okay so let's say we are having Lentil Soup which I know she likes but she doesn't love and with it we are having some bread - which I know she loves. If I give her the whole chunk of bread then down it goes and then 'more mommy' I want more bread...so, I sit right beside her with her bread and break her off one peice at a time. In order to get the next bite of bread she must have one - or more - bites of her nutritious soup. Now, generally this is done with quite a bit of screaming and lamenting - at least for the first week or so with her, that was the way it was - and I did have to put her in to her crib for a timeout once,but now I just start to threaten it and she immediately gets herself together. Now I can say that I am victorious! She gets it and she goes with it and she is eating so much better even since implementing this method. I have done this method successfully with younger children, too - Lise was just over 12 months when I had to get tough with her when she didn't want to eat her beets - she quickly learned to love them. I am certainly not the first mom to do this - I have friends who have kids that are great eaters and they have implemented similar methods. My oldest - now 10 - thanks me for giving them such weird food - she loves the variety and she notices the way she feels when she eats over at a friend's and doesn't like it. I have tried to naturally educate my older kids so that it is not like I am just saying 'No, you can't have that' without any reason other than your mom is a Kook - I want them to understand what is happening in their body when they eat those foods and make the choices for themselves. I am careful about what movies they watch, who they hang out with, what books they read, why would I not care what food they eat too? These are my precious ones and I am going to do the very best with them for the time they are given to me.
Happy Eating...spring is a comin'!!