Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Feeding Your Baby without Buying Baby Food

WARNING:  This post contains graphic description of infant bowel movements.  Reader beware.

Julian is 10 months old this week and we haven't purchased a single jar or box of baby-associated food. 

We saw my family doctor when Julian was 6 months old and she gave me the standard lecture about how breastmilk is not enough for him and his body needs iron.  I told her that I wouldn't be feeding him any iron-enriched cereals so she said that he had to eat meat.  No problem.

After my experience with feeding my oldest daughter Heinz rice cereal fortified with iron, I knew that I would NEVER feed that crap to a child again.  My doctor had INSISTED that Anna eat it beginning at 6 months and as a new mother, I listened to her.  Anna hated it so I watered it down and tried to pour it into her mouth.  She swallowed some of it. 
Anna at 10 months old.

By the next day I realized that it had been 24 hours since she had pooped (she had been exclusively breastfed up to that point and always pooped twice a day).  Because I still had the doctor's lecture ringing in my ears I gave Anna more cereal the next morning.  Another 24 hours went by without a bowel movement.  The next day I didn't feed her the rice cereal.  She nursed and nursed and became more and more irritable.  On the fourth day after I had first fed her the cereal I was nursing her in the morning and I could tell by her body language that she was trying to poop.  Suddenly she held her breathe, pushed, and then screamed.  I whipped off her diaper and I could see that she was trying to push out a hard lump the size of a pingpong ball.  She was screaming and crying and shaking her entire little body in an effort to get it out. 

She cried for an hour and as I held her I was crying and shaking too.  I was so ANGRY that I had done something to my baby that hurt her so much.  I phoned my local La Leche League leader, got some good advice and never fed Anna (or any future baby) rice cereal again.

Anna was over a year old before she became very interested in food.  I would try to feed her pureed foods such as sweet potatoes and banana.  I was pretty mainstream about food back then, inspite of rejecting the rice cereal, so I gave her Arrowroot cookies to mash up, although I would NEVER give those to a baby now.  She continued to nurse 12-20 times per day until she started to walk at 14 months and I think the added activity made her more hungry and she started to eat a lot of fresh fruit.  She also got her molars at around the same time which likely helped her to chew and enjoy a greater variety of foods.

I've learned how to follow my baby's cues better and better with each baby.  Julian ate purees for only a few weeks and by 8 months I was giving him foods on his tray that he could pick up and eat successfully--cooked carrots and potatoes, small pieces of banana, even chunks of soft apple and pear that he could suck on and gnaw off little pieces and swallow.  At 10 months old he has 7 teeth and he very good at using them.  He especially loves to bite off pieces of watermelon if I hold it up for him.

He eats a lot of meat;  I used to grind it in a baby-food grinder but now I just mash it with a fork and let him pick it up.  I can tell by his poops that his food is fully digested and I am pleased to say that he has never been constipated on his diet of fruits, vegetables and meat.  I rarely offer him baked foods, although he has chewed on the occasional crust of homemade bread.  Cow's milk and eggs are not in his diet yet, but I doubt that he will have the same food intolerances as Jasmine.  We eat very little in the way of dairy products, so I doubt that it will ever become a significant part of his diet.

He's a healthy happy baby, that's for sure!
Julian with the baby-food grinder at 9 months.

Do you avoid commercial baby food? 


  1. Aside from the one jar of bananas my parents got our son for Christmas (family joke), he hasn't had any commercial baby food. He loves to nurse, I love nursing him, and our pediatrician is AWESOME. His weight at his last check-up put him in the 2nd %ile and she just said that if he was pooping regularly and meeting his developmental milestones, there was nothing to worry about. He eats fruits, veggies, and fish when he is interested, but at 10 months, milk is his favorite. :-)

  2. I love this post (stumbled upon you from Dionna's blog) -- I have (one) 10 month old, who will never get a drop of that commercial stuff. Thanks for sharing such an honest story.