Belly laughs and cereal flying across the table, my husband asks, "he needs what, when, how much, and it will do what for his IQ?" Before I had a child, feeding an infant sounded like a simple task. I truly imagined it would be much easier than it has been for me. I thought maybe spending all that time studying nutrition, I would just be a natural when it came to feeding my own baby, because it is supposed to be natural, right? Well it was not for me.
From the very beginning my baby struggled to suck and swallow properly, I struggled with low supply, he had slow weight gain, everything that should have been simple seemed almost impossible. Through literally blood, sweat, and tears, we did it (with the help of a great lactation consultant, pediatric PA, and excellent support from my husband). Around the fourth week, he was successfully breastfeeding and gaining weight. We both got a little more sleep and we had a little honeymoon period. Then I went back to work.
Dedicated, hardworking mothers who care so deeply for their children and continue to provide breast milk while working do not adequately complain about how difficult it really is. In fact, most super moms I know made it seem effortless. As if a magic milk fairy does all the work for them. She transports the pump, clean bottles, pump parts, and bottle lids from the house to the car, to the office, back to the car, back home, and PLEASE don't forget to put it in the refrigerator!!! every single day without missing one little piece. Oh and don't forget to clean it all a million times a day as well. Oh and you can NEVER take a break because if any of these steps are not done perfectly every day your breasts will be on fire and your child will starve. And you ask, oh are you still breastfeeding? She politely replies, "yes I am able to pump at work." Far from effortless, but absolutely worth every extra step.
I wouldn't trade it for anything...but then he grew, and my supply didn't. I could tell because my always happy, great night sleeping, daily pooping baby transformed it seemed overnight: not sleeping, crying/screaming, and not pooping. This all happened just after turning four months old, in a matter of one week my supply dropped off and my frozen milk supply rapidly started to disappear.
Again with the help of a lactation consultant, a industrial grade pump, and some pop-tarts, I was able to recover my supply to previous levels but not boost it to his new growing needs. I quickly began to revise my original plan to delay solids until 6 months. My freezer supply was dwindling and the need for formula was approaching. Then a study was published in Pediatrics demonstrating that introducing wheat before 6 months decreases a baby's risk of developing Celiac Disease. Other studies previously have supported this conclusion as well. Eureka! I will introduce cereal and avoid adding formula.
My baby thinks cereal is a toy. Three weeks into this plan and he finds it hilarious when he can blow the cereal all over himself, the table, and me. He hardly eats it. I am far from stupid, but this child knows how to humble me. It sounded so easy, start cereal, avoid formula. Ha, oh well. I started him on oatmeal for a week. Then I tried to move to wheat, but I had to go to 4 different stores to finally find a wheat cereal (Walmart ended up being the only store with it stocked). In the end, he has had some formula and a little cereal. He is healthy, happy, and growing like a weed. We don't live in a perfect world and one nutrition plan does not work for all babies. My nutrition plan did not work exactly as planned for my baby. Everyone is unique. Enjoy the fun of discovering food with your little one. Mine will be 6 months this weekend. My plan is to start him on avocado. Wish me luck!!
Nutrition from the dietitian
Blog of Abrea Nutrition.