Thoughts on Feeding a Baby
If becoming parents has taught us anything so far, it’s that as soon as you figure out one stage, things are changing! Even aspects that seemed “natural” or “instinctual,” like feeding a hungry baby, take a lot of time to figure out, and what works shifts along the way. Every baby is different and every family is different! Having support through it all is so important. My pediatrician’s office had a lactation consultant on staff, and I went to a support group nearby for help at the beginning, when I needed all the advice I could get. It is so helpful to have someone to speak with about infant feeding, and so we are glad to see that the Happy Family Brands has created a free support platform with lactation consultants and certified nutritionists available to chat with from 8am-8pm. (Check it out here!)
Here are a some thoughts on how it went for us:
Right after Serena was born (very quickly!), the midwife placed her on my chest and after a few minutes of staring quietly at us with those dark newborn eyes, she latched on and started nursing. Like most newborns, she lost a bit of weight over the first few days before my milk came in, but then started gaining a lot. Those first few doctor’s visits are so much about weighing the baby — it was so funny to feel proud of every ounce she gained! But those were hard won — it is an amazing thing to have your body continue to support and nurture another tiny human after they are born. In those early days I was so hungry! Just keeping up with all the calories my body was expending was a task in itself, and Serena often nursed for hours and hours a day. When she was so young, it felt like she was somehow still a part of my body and my body partly belonged to her — nursing was a literal expression of that connection, and as awkward as it was figuring it out, I was glad that we were able to make it work.
When Dan went back to work, it became a bit lonely sometimes… I felt like I was on couch lock-down with my ravenous babe! Living in the city, we are always out and about, and once we got the hang of using the nursing cover, it made it a lot easier to spend our days strolling around, parking near a nice bench whenever Serena needed a little sustenance.
Serena took to nursing like a champ, but after a few months refused to drink from a bottle, so at that point it was hard to be away from her for more than a few hours at a time. As much as I loved the bonding time and the special connection of nursing, it was really emotionally challenging to be the only one who could feed her. At that point I really craved having a little more independence, and was excited to start introducing solid foods at 6 months.
However, with starting solid foods, sometimes it felt like the more effort I put into something the less Serena liked it! Last summer I spent a few afternoons making all kinds of beautiful organic fruit and vegetable purees and freezing them in ice cube trays. They were made with so much care, and I was getting so excited to share all the flavors with Serena… but then of course the freezer broke that week!
Serena really wasn’t a huge fan of solids (besides the crunchy rice puffs that almost all babies are obsessed with) until after her first birthday. I was definitely stressing about it when I heard how much other babies the same age were eating, and when my pediatrician suggested that she should be having 3 meals a day — at the time I was lucky to have her enjoy a spoonful or two at each “meal” before she would push things away.
In retrospect, I wish I had just relaxed, because just after a year, she started asking for food, eating things off our plate, and enjoying whole bowls of pasta for dinner. I think for her she just wasn’t into it at the beginning, and also much preferred eating finger foods and using her own spoon and fork rather than being fed purees.
Nursing started winding down for us, and while she would still nurse a lot at home, while we were out and there were things to do and see, she was too busy to think about it. However, Serena was in the hospital this spring, and started nursing a lot again there. It was an easy way for her to get that comfort, and I was happy in a way that we hadn’t completely stopped beforehand so we still had that calming tool to get us through a tough time.
Serena just turned 20 months, and now her favorite foods are an eclectic bunch — raspberries, saag paneer and dahl, baked macaroni and cheese, chia pudding, sharp cheeses. In spite of all of the food she loves, she is also still a big fan of nursing. Nursing a wriggly toddler is so hugely different from nursing a little newborn! I’m sure that the next few months will see our nursing time lessen, as she becomes more and independent each day. I will be so excited to have my body to myself again, but I know I’ll also miss nursing her too!
Like so much about parenting, feeding babies can become a loaded topic. It can be hard to get good advice, especially if a lactation consultant isn’t easily available. That’s why the Happy Family Brands free support platform is a great idea. You can ask any questions you have about feeding your little one, and live chat with Cornell-certified nutritionists and lactation specialists (and all moms) that are available up to eight hours a day to offer support. This makes us like the brand even more!
Image Credit: Laura Chassaigne