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Isn't He Weaned Yet?

Watching my little Kung Fu Panda standing up with the help of the coffee table, smacking his hand against the wooden surface, while he babbles happily and practices blowing raspberries, I'm convinced I'm doing something right. You wouldn't know this from listening to some people.

Kung Fu Panda playing with his toys this morning

At nearly 8 months, KFP is hitting all the developmental milestones contained in the books What to Expect the First Year and The Dr. Sears Baby Book. At every well visit, the doctor tells us how healthy and alert he is. "Keep doing what you're doing," he tells us.

In fact, the doctor agreed with advice from the Dr. Sears book that we should wait until six months to start solid foods, since KFP was gaining weight at a good rate on breast milk and formula. We've been slowly making our way through the list of foods Dr. Sears recommends introducing at six and seven months. So far, he's had bananas, applesauce, and purees made from pear, carrots, avocado, and squash. These are usually mixed with rice cereal made with formula. Of these new foods, his clear favorites are applesauce, pears and squash. I plan to introduce sweet potatoes this week.

At six months, we were just trying to get KFP used to the idea of solids, so we served them about once a day. Lately, I've been giving them to him at lunchtime and dinnertime, while giving him breast milk in the morning, in the evening, and for an afternoon "snack" when he wants it. I feel good about this, too, because the registered nurse who taught our breastfeeding class said that ideally, we should plan on breastfeeding for the first 12 months.

Try explaining all of this to the random person on the street. Typically, this is a mother with an older child and presumably a different theory of child rearing. They ask, "Is he eating solid foods yet?" When I reply that he is, but that we just started, they start bragging about how early they started with their kid. "We started solids at four months and he was practically weaned by seven."

Someone asked me this morning, "Is he eating Cheerios yet?" No, and he won't be for quite a while. He's still working on his first two bottom teeth! I'm fairly certain teeth are required to eat Cheerios safely.

Fairly soon, I'm expecting people to ask me if he's eating steak. Or cookies and ice cream.

I guess I should do what I do when it comes to other sorts of parenting advice: take what I find useful and let the rest go. If someone doesn't understand my desire to make him homemade fresh purees, as often as possible using organic foods, that's fine. If they can't understand why we're going slowly and testing each new food for at least three days to make certain he doesn't have a bad reaction, again, not my problem.

Maybe the next time someone brags about how early their child started eating, I'll brag about the fact that he actually paddled his arms in Water Babies class this weekend, or that he's doing daily "baby workouts" practicing his assisted standing and cruising skills, building his baby muscles for his first steps.

My husband, The Gryphon, made my day this morning by sending me a link to an article about feeding babies too early and the possible link to obesity, something my sister had also told me about. The subject of the Gryphon's e-mail? "Yer Doin' It Rite.‏" Made my day!

Being a first-time mom is like wearing a sign that says "Tell me what I'm doing wrong."

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( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
Your comparison is EXACTLY right. I can remember the same sorts of conversations regarding relationships back in the day. The Gryphon and I moved in together after a year, but simply to save money. After all, he was staying at my place by then most nights anyway. Otherwise, I think I would have maintained my private space for longer; I always moved in with guys too soon, and it makes it really awkward if things go south. You're right, though: there's no reason to rush! You know what's right for you and Adam, just like I know what's right for KFP.
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
Oh sweetie!

Eff the others. You are the momma, and you are quite obviously doing things right. KFP is an amazing little man. It is your right to brag about him and his accomplishments.

Child rearing...YER DOIN IT RITE!!!!!

Feb. 7th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you! We have to get together when it gets warmer so you can meet him.
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
*eyeroll* tell me about it. My EX pediatrician was pressuring me to start Ian on rice cereal at 4 months, because "he was so big he'll get hungry on just milk". Later, she tried to tell me that she recommended that babies be off "ALL nipples" by 18 months. When I asked her how she could reconcile that with the World Health Organization's recommendation that children be nursed for 2 years, she said "Well you just do what you want." And this was our PEDIATRICIAN. Key word: WAS.

Right now the American Pediatrics Assoc. recommends 1 year minimum, then "for as long as mother and baby wish to continue." I've personally bought into the whole "child led weaning" theory, because it seems to be what works best for Ian. Of course at this point it's 99.9% about emotional nutrition rather than physical nutrition, but hey.

Incidentally, I really like Dr. Sears. Go attachment parenting! :D
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Exactly. You phrased it much better than I did.
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
One of my oldest friends told me about the Dr. Sears book, and I'm glad I got it. She's a single mom, and her son is precocious, funny and loves his mom.

That's weird that your pediatrician was pushing you to give up breastfeeding at 4 months, because it's the exact same reason our pediatrician had for urging us to wait. Clearly, he was doing fine if he was growing so well at that age on just milk and formula.

I'm not sure when I was completely weaned, but my brother was weaned at 6 months because my mom developed Grave's Disease. My sister, on the other hand, nursed for 18 months and then, as my mom relates, decided she was done with it!

Really glad I wrote this post, because I crossposted it to parenting101 and, between them and you, I've heard the term "child led weaning" or "baby led weaning" for the first time. I'm going to look into it.
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
P.S. Ian is adorable! Love those big blue eyes in the picture on your Christmas card.
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
Doesn't eating solid food at four months lead to diverticulitis in adolesence?
And I'm fairly certain that weaning too early leads to serious psychological issues in adulthood.
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
Not sure about either of those things (I had to look up diverticulitis)! But I do know that, according to what I've read, babies that are too young to eat solids will have a natural tongue thrust reaction that pushes the spoon or food out of their mouth.
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
I know- people are always in such a rush! All three of my babies have been breastfed. Olivia self weaned and Sal I pushed into weaning because I was already pregnant with Owen, but he was still about 16 months at the time and had already started drinking cow milk. My plan with Owen is to breastfeed for the first twelve months and then start letting him have regular milk and do self weaning again. My kids always held onto the nursing sessions first thing in the morning, right after naptime, and right before bed the longest.
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
Those three times are the key times for breastfeeding right now. I think it's a comfort thing as much as anything else. Plus, there is that chemical pitocin in breastmilk that helps make babies tired!

I'm starting to wonder how I'll be able to get him to nap when he's no longer breastfeeding, but today I think I accidentally discovered a way. He woke up but was clearly still tired, so I gently gave him a mini-massage: rubbing his arms, his chest, his legs and then his face. Put him right out!
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's just a matter of finding what relaxes them. A baby massage is a great idea. For Sal, a soft blanket will still get him to sleep. Olivia loved her pacifier and then a cool bottle of milk, which she was toed to until she gave it up for her fourth birthday. Every kid is different :)
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
I'll have to see if the massage technique will work at other times. It might be because I've been in the habit of stroking his head and arms when he's breastfeeding, so that's part of the comfort that he gets from nursing.
Feb. 7th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
This is obviously just me being snarky, but the people who brag about how early their child started eating are only doing that because it's the only developmental milestone their kid hit ahead of schedule :-P
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
LOL That could be!

Of course, I learned the hard way that it's not polite to brag. I used to do so when I got A's in elementary school, until I learned the other children didn't appreciate it. :)
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
Been there, done that, own all the teeshirts. It really gets on your nerves, doesn't it? And it undermines your confidence. I look at the video of that adorable boy of yours and I can see a healthy, happy boy - all of it's proof that you're doing it all correctly - and even if you do make some mistakes, seriously, who cares? So you gave him squash before peas [as an example], is it really going to make a difference? You're intelligent and trusted your instincts, which are sound, because YOU'RE his mum.

BTW, I breastfed my third until she was 18 months old because she wanted to keep nursing. It seemed like the best reason in the world. Nurse until KFP wants to stop. They have ways of letting you know. James wanted to wean at nine months and I did so, albeit reluctantly!

Hugs. You're doing a great job.
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Thanks! My mom tells me that my sister self-weaned at 18 months. I've also had friends who continued to breastfeed well into the second year. At this point, I'm willing to go at his pace and not force him into a transition he's not ready for.

We're trying sweet potatoes tonight!
Feb. 7th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
Biologically, the proper time for weaning is when the milk dries up (barring early loss). Most people actually don't know this anymore, because bottle feeding has been the norm for a while. Any zookeeper can tell you that mother's milk is best, and bottle feeding a poor -- if sometimes necessary -- substitute.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Re: *sigh*
I wonder how long it would take for the milk to dry up? We try to give him as much breast milk as possible. Sadly, I haven't had much success with pumping or the evening bottles he gets while I'm working would be breast milk, too.
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
Re: *sigh*
I believe the typical nursing period for humans is 2-3 years. Milk flow then begins to taper off and eventually stops.

If people hassle you, ignore them. They are not raising your kid and it's not their boobs on the front line. They get an opinion, but not a vote.
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
Re: *sigh*
Very sage advice! My plan is to continue to breastfeed until he's no longer interested. My mom did that with my sister, and she nursed for 18 months before giving up on her own.
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
Re: *sigh*
Good plan. Children usually sense when it is time to stop. If they lose interest, they're done and want solid food now. The main goal is to get at least a year of breast milk. It isn't always possible for various reasons, but that's a good minimum.
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
Good plan. Children usually sense when it is time to stop. If they lose interest, they're done and want solid food now. The main goal is to get at least a year of breast milk. It isn't always possible for various reasons, but that's a good minimum.
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
Re: Yes...
True. I was completely formula fed because of complications at my birth, and my brother was weaned at six months because my mom got Grave's Disease. You'd think that, with three siblings starting out in such different ways, there'd be appreciable differences, but we all have turned out healthy.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
I'm a horrible mother--I didn't really get started feeding LittleZ solids until he snatched a cookie from one of the other kids at the daycare, hid under a table, and ate it (really "gummed it" is more like it). That was when I realized he was really ready for them. He was about 8 mos then. He's now 16 months, feeding himself with a spoon, still drinking from a bottle (we get looks sometimes), walking, talking, and healthy. I figure we'll sort it all out as we go along.

Do what you've got to do, mom!
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:53 am (UTC)
Awww! That's a cute story. Just goes to show that when they're ready, they let you know. He'd been trying to grab food off my plate for at least a couple weeks when we started him.

There's a little boy in the Child Watch at the YMCA who's toddling around and still drinking a bottle. His dad said that it's just easier to leave that with him than some other type of snack.
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:50 am (UTC)

Actually, they can eat cheerios safely long before they have molars. Some kids don't get teeth until super late, and it's still safe for them. Those gums can hurt, as you'll find out if you manage to get a finger in there when the chomp comes! They're an excellent finger food to help the little one develop hand-eye coordination and work on the pincer grasp.

They basically gum them and it crushes them down. With the saliva, they disintegrate.

I'm seeming to remember them as an 8-month food though - not before... but definitely follow your gut - if he's not handling food well enough, don't give him any!

You're doing it right, and there is huge benefits to breastfeeding long after the 12 month mark.

Feel free to check out extendednursing

It's a good comm :)

Edited at 2011-02-08 04:50 am (UTC)
Feb. 8th, 2011 05:05 am (UTC)
I kept a clipping from the surgeon general on my fridge for a very long time. It said that every baby in America has the RIGHT to be nursed until his first birthday and lucky babies are nursed until they turn two.
As it yellowed with age and crumbled away long ago, I cannot say for sure which surgeon general was being interviewed at the time -- I am not sure how long of a term they serve for, either, as far as that goes. I **can** feel pretty sure that I was either expecting or had a nursing babe at the time I posted it...but that is not exactly a narrow window of time. It was in this house, so it was after 1980.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
That would have been former US Surgeon General who proclaimed: "It's the lucky baby, I feel, who continues to nurse until he's two." :D
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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