Sorry for my lack of posts the past couple of weeks. Between Kamea, taking care of household duties, and maintaining my Kristen’s Raw blog… time sure does fly, eh? Kamea turned 6 months of age at the end of December 2010 – yowza! It’s so exciting to watch her grow and see her little personality coming out. It’s been a non-stop blast with her.
Traditionally, this is the time that many parents are excited to try giving their baby solids to eat. But, we haven’t followed that tradition. She’s about 6.5 months now and I don’t feel the need to introduce solids yet. I’ve read a number of sources that state a mom can breastfeed her baby exclusively for up to a year. While that is not my goal or intention, I do feel a strong pull in the direction to go beyond the conventional 6-month mark of exclusive breastfeeding.
There are a few markers that many parents look for before introducing solids:
1) Teeth – Kamea doesn’t have any teeth yet. However, some babies don’t start teething until close to a year old. This doesn’t mean you don’t introduce solids before that, but some people use it as one indicator (of a few) as to the readiness of baby to have solids.
2) Sitting up unassisted and having solid head control – Kamea started sitting unassisted just before she turned 6 months. She’s had solid head control for awhile.
3) Interest in foods – Many babies show their eagerness towards solids by reaching for mama’s food. Kamea hasn’t really done this. She definitely eyes us when we’re eating, but she doesn’t grab for it specifically. She pretty much grabs for everything within reach, so her reach for my smoothie cup doesn’t tell me she’s trying to reach for it to drink it.
4) Hunger – If a baby seems hungry beyond the normal feedings of breastmilk then it could be a sign of readiness for solids.
Most importantly though, I’m simply following my own mama intuition. I didn’t feel solids were necessary at the exact 6-month point, and I still don’t at her current age of 6 1/2 months. As many of you know, Kamea sees two different pediatricians (an allopathic doctor and a naturopathic doctor – read more about that here). Both doctors encourage feeding at 6 months. The allopath said that it helps with development. I wasn’t entirely sure if that was something to be concerned about so I’ve been researching it and here is something to consider from KellyMom.com…
I’ve not been able to find any research data to support the idea that there is a limited window of opportunity for introducing solids in normally developing, healthy children. There does appear to be some limited evidence that babies who have been tube-fed long-term or have serious developmental delays may have problems learning to eat if they don’t get a chance to practice eating solids between 6 & 10 months. A small study involving case studies of several mentally retarded children was done back in 1964 (Illingworth RS, Lister J. The critical or sensitive period, with special reference to certain feeding problems in infants and children. J Pediatr 1964;65(6) part 1:839-48.). This study suggested that there may be a “critical and/or sensitive” period for introducing chewable textures to these children, and if solids are not introduced during this time, an important developmental milestone may be missed (possibly leading to rejection of solids later on). This study is theonly one I’ve found referenced with regard to the “limited window of opportunity” claims regarding the normal development of children.
I asked a speech & language pathologist I know about her experiences with this. She has worked with many young children who have feeding problems, including developmental delays and problems with chewing and oral texture aversion. She said that she could not think of any reason that delaying solids would cause feeding problems, and said that the the problems in the children she had worked with had generally started at birth or relatively soon after. None of these children had a feeding problem caused by a delayed start to solid foods.
Kamea’s naturopath is more flexible yet a little concerned with Kamea getting enough iron, but I’m not worried about that. Breastmilk’s iron is highly absorbable and anemia is uncommon in breastfed babies according to KellyMom.com.
That being said, I am thinking about it… for when the time is right. I have prepared by doing research into the foods we’ll be feeding her (I can’t wait to write a baby food book with raw and vegan recipes!). I also bought her an organic bib, a couple of baby wooden bowls and spoons (so cute!), and we dove into researching high chairs. Finding a chair for Kamea has been a back and forth process. I wanted a wooden chair to be eco friendly, but I kept hearing so many mixed reviews about the trendy ones on the market like the Tripp Trapp and Svan. Plus, this video freaked me out in spite of them now including “extenders” with the chairs – you’d think the chair should’ve been designed properly in the first place). The other wood chairs on the market just don’t have enough good reviews for me to make the purchase. I don’t really want to have one made because I’m concerned about safety issues. I started searching for a BPA-free plastic option even though I hate the idea of crappy plastic high chairs. As more days came and went, I just couldn’t decide what to do. My dilemma was I wanted wood to be a green mommy, but I didn’t like the options. The result? A friend of ours is giving us her plastic chair. It’s the ultimate in being green as far as reusing and not making a purchase whether wood or plastic. And, while I don’t like the idea of it being plastic, it seems the route to go, for now at least. If the tray isn’t BPA-free, then perhaps I can find a liner for it or something.
I think Kamea’s first food will be organic banana mashed with breastmilk. We’re taking it day by day although I suspect we’ll venture into solids territory somewhere between 7-9 months. Furthermore, our naturopath said to not introduce cereals or grains until at least 9 months of age because a baby lacks the proper enzymes to digest them properly before that. Whoa! Why don’t more people know that?! So often people start with cereals as the first food.
UPDATE (1/11/11): I just read in Shazzie’s book, Evie’s Kitchen (one of my faves for raising healthy kids!), “According to information in The Breastfeeding Answer Book by Nancy Mahrbacher and Julie Stock, delaying the introduction of food from six months to seven months increases nutrient absorption by 60% for life.”
What are your first baby solid stories and/or advice?