Friday, October 9, 2009

No more baby food

As a mother of ten children, a grandmother of nine children, and foster mother to more than 50 children over the years, I’ve certainly bought my share of those little jars of baby food. I often lamented over how expensive they were, but I thought they were necessary. After all, whenever I took the current baby in for a well baby checkup, I was always given a little sheet of instructions, and once they turned four to six months, it always told me to start the baby on cereal, fruit, and later on, meat.

When I had my fifth child, I was standing in the baby food isle, trying to decide on which of those little jars to buy, when it suddenly hit me: What did people do before baby food in a jar became available? How did God intend for a baby to eat? After all, babies don’t even get the molars they need to chew with until the end of their first year, and sometimes after that. Did God really intend for a little baby to be eating meat and vegetables before this point?
It sure didn’t make sense to me that he did…

I left the baby food isle, and thought about it for a bit. It seemed obvious to me that a baby was meant to have breast milk for most of the first year. I knew my baby was thriving on it. So I made the decision not to buy baby food in a jar anymore, and just go with what baby could chew. I would continue nursing until the baby could easily eat a nourishing meal from the table, real food, not the expensive few tablespoons mashed up in a little jar and costing close to a dollar. I knew a lot of people who bought grinders for their babies, and would hold the baby in their lap and grind the food they were eating themselves and feed it to the baby at mealtimes. I decided against this, too. If the baby could not easily eat table food with the teeth or, in the case of my very late teethers, the gums in their mouth, then they were obviously not ready for table food yet.

When the baby began to show signs of wanting to have more than breast milk, I started them out on bananas and oatmeal. This was food they could easily handle. I gave them crackers and cheerios. I tore up small pieces of whole wheat bread – in fact, it wasn’t long before I was making them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and tearing those into small bites. My year old babies loved this.

Soon after their first birthday, they began to grow molars, and I could give them more food. I nursed until they lost interest, which was usually around eighteen months, although I would have been willing to go longer.

I’ve raised my last three birth babies with this method. My two adopted babies and my foster babies were formula feed, but I taught them to eat table food this way too. They thrived on this method, and were plump, healthy babies. My pocket book was much fatter when I quit buying the expensive jars of baby food. My own conclusion is that baby food jars are an unnecessary expense. Go with your baby’s growth, watch his teeth, and don’t be afraid to trust your own instincts.

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