We Are Both Right

Best of: The Baby Product We Couldn’t Do Without

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He's adorable, but he also comes with a lot of stuff. What is your baby gear must-have? ©just4you/stock.xchng

Everybody has one. Usually different from person to person, just a solitary mention inspires a passionate soliloquy (complete with bullet points and a Power Point presentation) from you on its excellence and necessity. It’s your sanity saver, getting you through sleepless nights and showerless days and you wonder why people aren’t taking to the streets, singing its praises.

It’s the baby product you can’t do without (and your go-to gift for baby showers).

Read ours and then share yours below!

Amanda:

Boppy Nursing Pillow

Do you remember those first few days after you bring home your first baby? There really is nothing like it. And unless you’ve lived it, there is no explaining it. I remember feeling like I was in a weird fog. Simultaneously both deliriously happy and scared witless out of my mind, I felt like every decision was IMPORTANT, had a great impact on my son’s future and I needed to get it right, no matter how inconsequential it would be under normal circumstances. Up is down, left is right, ice cream is a plate of liver and onions. Nothing was what it usually was.

I don’t know if breastfeeding mothers especially feel this way, but I remember feeling particularly flummoxed in the food department. My sweet newborn C. and I were having a bit of trouble with his feeding positions and no matter what hold I tried, I just couldn’t get us both comfortable. It was freaking me out and causing me great consternation across the board. It was affecting everything I did. (Seriously, I was a bit of a mess.)

Enter the Boppy.  I don’t know who introduced it to me or how I wound up with one, but I definitely got it after C. came home from the hospital. It quickly became my lifeline. It was like putting on a pair of glasses and then realizing that you couldn’t see before. Thanks to this 0h-so-simple-yet-so-brilliant, nursing pillow, feeding my son became amazingly easier. He was comfortable, I was comfortable and we were both happy. Amazing what a bit of brightly-colored fabric and some stuffing sewn into a funny shape can do.

Suzanne:

HALO SleepSack

As soon as the pregnancy hormones kicked in, this Suzy Safety went into red alert mode.  The car seat installation got checked and rechecked. Outlet covers and cabinet locks were ready to go before my first contraction hit. And my baby registry included not a single crib blanket — not even the adorable quilt that matched the nursery decor.

I had read enough about SIDS and learned that any type of loose bedding, including blankets, pillows and even stuffed animals, could pose a suffocation hazard to a baby. So to say we went the minimalist route when it came to outfitting our son’s crib would be an understatement. Even the once overlooked crib bumper got the heave-ho.

All was well and good until winter snuck up on us. With snow piled against the front door and the heat up as high as our budget could withstand, I reached into the drawers looking for the thickest set of baby pajamas I could find.  My hand brushed across a soft fleece fabric, and instead of pulling out the footed pajamas I expected, I came up with a mini sleeping bag of sorts. This yellow sack wasn’t something I had bought, and I honestly didn’t remember getting it as a gift, but it was exactly what I needed.

Then again, necessity is the mother of invention, right? That pretty much sums up the idea behind the HALO SleepSack, the wearable blanket that is endorsed by leading SIDS organizations in the U.S. and Canada. It represents everything we want for our babies — to be safe, snug and sleeping, of course — that I now include at least one in every baby gift I give.

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OK, we shared, now it’s your turn. What baby product is your absolute favorite? Why?

What’s For Dinner? Probably Something They Don’t Like

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Do family dinners at your house turn into food fights? ©duchesssa/stock.xchng

Here’s a scenario you’re probably familiar with. You spend some time (be it hours or even just 30 minutes) making a meal for your family. You’ve thought it out, done some prep and then of course, the actual cooking. And when your work is done, you are pretty pleased with the results. Everything looks good and tastes good — you are feeling pretty satisfied with yourself. And then you put your efforts out on the table for all to enjoy, and what do you get for your trouble?

“Yuck!”

“I don’t like that!”

“Can I have something else instead?”

“That looks disgusting!”

And it’s not like you are asking your little ones to eat escargot or Rocky Mountain Oysters. Maybe you made chicken nuggets from scratch instead of tearing open a package, or you dared to serve up some meatloaf and noodles instead of the standard cheeseburgers and French fries. Still, despite your pleas to the contrary, your kids either won’t eat it or there they sit, sullenly at their seat, pushing around their peas and carrots, your threats of “no dessert until you clean your plate!” not doing anything.

At least your spouse appreciates your attempts to channel your inner Julia Child. And at least you like what you’ve made.

Here we each share our top three dishes that are popular with the grownups in the house, but not so much with the people under 12. Feel free to make them in your own home so your kids can not eat them too! And then be sure to add to our list — stop by our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

Bon appetit!

AMANDA

Tomato sauce: I’m not Italian, but I make a pretty good red sauce, if I must say so myself. It’s not too heavy, not too acidic — just a nice, basic sauce. Sometimes I’ll throw in some homemade meatballs or chopped up sausage or even pour it on top of some chicken parm. Really though, it doesn’t matter what I serve my sauce with, as long as pasta is on the table too. Because that’s all my kids will eat. Pasta with butter and cheese.

Lemon chicken: This is one of my and my husband’s favorite dishes. It’s not too tart but it has a nice flavor. It’s a dish that needs a lot of attention in the beginning but then you just let it sit and cook in the sauce for 20 minutes while you get other things ready (I like to serve this one with rice or elbow macaronis and carrots). My kids won’t go near it.

Chicken with ham and cheese: If I’m being fancy I’ll call it Chicken Cordon Bleu, but let’s face it. I dredge some chicken that’s rolled up with ham and swiss cheese through beaten eggs and bread crumbs and bake it in the oven for a little while. Still, it’s good and tasty (I even make a little brown gravy for the side) and still, my kids won’t eat it.

SUZANNE

Anything with melted cheese: Think cheeseburgers, chicken parmigiana, grilled cheese, even pizza — all the old stand-bys when there’s no time for meal planning. But in our house, if it has melted cheese, it’s gross — at least according to my two children. I’m still having trouble figuring out where they came from, because cheese is my friend. I will melt it on anything and call it a meal. Before they were born, my husband and I would wile away an hour or two every Saturday at our local cheese shop. These days we’re lucky if we can order a pizza pie without everyone demanding their own slice of choice. Funny thing is that my little one eats feta cheese (not melted) out of a bowl for breakfast sometimes. Now that’s gross.

Lasagna: One of my favorite meals is (was) a good homemade lasagna. Crispy on the edges, layered with just the right amount of sauce and meat, mixed with ricotta cheese. And therein lies the problem. Yet another cheese product that my children despise. They won’t eat the fresh-stuffed manicotti that my father-in-law makes on holidays, nor will they touch a ravioli — Mickey Mouse-shaped or otherwise. And because it makes no sense to make a whole tray of lasagna for just me and my husband, I haven’t had it in a really long time. Have I mentioned we’re Italian? How embarrassing.

Catch of the Day: We’re a fishing family, and our rule is that if you catch it, you eat it. And since fish is so expensive at the seafood shop, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to grill some fresh caught fluke at the end of a summer day. My husband and I at least. We’re past the age with the kids where we can pass it off as chicken. And though they will nibble, not even frying it in a beer batter can entice them to actually finish a piece. Oh well, more for me I guess.

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What about you? What meal do you love to cook or eat that your kids just despise? Do you make them eat it anyway?

Breast is Best, But This Might Be a Bit Much

Obviously breast milk is for human consumption. But here’s where Amanda went wrong — assuming it was always meant for baby humans…

Update: Sorry everyone, you’ll have to stick to plain vanilla for a while. After getting hundreds of complaints (and the media frenzy surrounding the flavor no doubt) representatives of  the Westminster City Council has put sales of Baby Gaga on hold while it is tested by the UK’s Food Standards Agency. One of the major concerns is that many types of viruses, including hepatitis, can be passed through breast milk.

The folks at The Icecreamists are cooperating, but all along they’ve maintained the breast milk they used to make the ice cream had been tested the same way blood donors were screened. Stay tuned.

Here’s how we covered the story initially:

There’s an ice cream parlor in London that is offering a flavor that neither Ben nor Jerry could ever deliver: Breast milk. Called “Baby GaGa,” it’s a blend of human breast milk with Madagascan vanilla and lemon zest. While the idea of ingesting another person’s bodily fluids might be enough to make many people Baby Gag-Gag, the shop — called The Icecreamists — is apparently doing brisk business with the idea.

“The response has been amazing,” shop owner Matt O’Connor told the London Evening Standard, adding that many do indeed hesitate before, um, latching on to the frozen dessert. “People love it when they try it.”

Of course the new product does need some au natural resources, namely mothers willing to provide the milk. London lactaters are being offered £15 for every 10 ounces of breast milk they “donate” to the process; about 25 women have some far stepped forward to provide the base. A serving of the dessert — which comes in a martini glass that is frozen by liquid nitrogen — costs £14.

Beyond the icky factor, there are obviously other issues at play here as people decide whether or not to ingest from the breast. While the nutritional value of breast milk is well-documented, it is designed for babies and there are some who believe that women with surpluses could better serve society by donating to milk banks that distribute the food to infants in need rather than an ice cream parlor trying to make a buck (or a pound as the case may be).

Me? While I don’t have a big ethical problem with the concept, I’ll stick to my mint chocolate chip from cows, thank you very much.

What do you think? Would you try breast milk ice cream?

Our Two Cents: How Far Should This Mom Go to “Save” a Friend?

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Can a mom and child ever spend too much time together? ©mummau55/stock.xchng

Dear Amanda and Suzanne: 

My dear, dear friend “Jennifer” and I have babies who were born seven months apart. How excited we both are to have children who will grow up together! 

Jennifer’s son “John” is a sweet boy with what I perceive to be a bit of an issue: He is 14 months old and won’t sleep through the night. You read that correctly…WON’T sleep through the night. 

Now, Jennifer is still breastfeeding him but John is also eating solid foods as well. Not to say that breastfeeding is causing the sleep interruption, but can it be part of the issue? Jennifer won’t try the ‘cry it out’ method and on average, John is up every 3 to 4 hours every night. 

I mean, I would go mental. I have wanted to gently broach the subject but I don’t want to seem like a know it all. 

And also, is it normal for moms not want to hang out without the kids? We haven’t been out to lunch alone since the babies were born. She “can’t” leave him. I feel like the worst Mom sometimes because I like to go out with my lady friends once in awhile. Anyway, that’s my issue and any feedback would be greatly appreciated. 

Signed,
A Concerned Friend
 

Suzanne: 

I could see where you would be concerned! Just the thought of not sleeping for longer than four hours for fourteen months straight makes me tired. And to envision your good friend suffering in silence, having been there yourself for however short a period of time, makes you want to jump through her bedroom window and save her.

But before you pull out your old Wonder Woman costume, maybe you could casually bring up the subject in conversation, without making your friend feel self-conscious about something she may or may not perceive as a problem herself.

Next time you talk, you might say in passing that your little one continues to sleep through the night and *fingers crossed* you hope it’s not just a phase. When she gives you the update on John (presuming they’re still in the same boat) ask in response whether her pediatrician has offered any advice as to whether she should try to stretch his feedings further apart. If she appears to not be looking for a “solution” you should just leave it at that — and maybe commend her for being stronger than you would be with so little sleep.

As for her not wanting to leave baby behind for a little girls-only time, you will just have to wait her out on that one. All moms find their comfort zone at different points in their child’s development. Some are ready to go immediately, knowing that baby is in good hands with daddy or grandma for an hour or two, while others might never leave their child’s sight until the drive to college.

For me, justifying time spent alone with friends took a few years and that was a direct result of my self-imposed guilt. I thought I was shortchanging my babies while I was at work, so I wanted to give them all of my free time otherwise. But now — well, I totally see the value in just hanging with friends for an hour or two and recharging in a way that ultimately makes me a more patient and well-rounded mom. Your friend should come around too — maybe after she starts getting some sleep! 

Amanda: 

I could be way off base here, but it sounds to me like Jennifer is practicing attachment parenting, whether she’s made the conscious decision to do so or not. Now this is just a guess based on what you are saying and from my own experiences as someone who did it as well (and sort of stumbled into the method).

If she is attachment parenting, I think everything you describe is actually pretty normal. The night waking, the extended breastfeeding, even the not wanting to leave the baby at all. I actually went through all of that myself — except for the extended breastfeeding part, which I had to stop at 13 months with S. because of my surgery. And while my husband T. and I did let our babies “cry it out,” at bedtime, if they woke in the middle of the night to nurse, I did let them and then they co-slept with us for the remainder of the evening.

Crazy? Perhaps. But it was the most natural thing for me, and I suspect, your friend. I’ve always felt that attachment parenting is inherent. Not to get all new-agey on you, but you don’t choose to attachment parent, it comes from inside of you.

And I promise, it’s no reflection on you if she doesn’t want to hang out. It’s just part of the attachment parenting style. Not that they dictate that, but it’s more like, moms who practice attachment parenting tend to not want to be separated from their babies. I knew that leaving the baby was fine and good to do, but it was just really hard for me emotionally. I have no way to explain it other than I just didn’t want to be away from them. I didn’t judge others that could leave their babies, I just couldn’t. Not for a while.

And that’s the thing about attachment parenting, you either get it and love it and do it, or you don’t do it and you think those who do are a bit looney. Which is fine!

If you miss your friend (and it sounds like you do) for now, maybe it’s best to schedule outings that incorporate all four of you — trips to the playground, walks, even a quick meal or coffee at a family-friendly place. Be supportive and patient — the good friend that you’ve been all along.

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What do you think? Does Concerned Friend have cause to be concerned? Should she talk to Jennifer or leave it alone? And if you are looking for a second (and third) opinion, ask us! Send an e-mail to advice@wearebothright.com.

Breastfeeding: First a Choice, Now a Must

When I started off, I never expected to feel so passionate about breastfeeding. In fact, I don’t even remember making a conscious decision to do it.

International Breastfeeding Logo Mothering Magazine  © 1997

International Breastfeeding Logo Mothering Magazine © 1997

The first of my friends to get pregnant and, like my husband, the eldest child of a mother who didn’t nurse, most of the knowledge I gleaned came from books (we didn’t really have good Internets back at the turn of the century). Everything I read did a good job of pretty much bopping you over the head with the message “breast is best,” so I’m sure my thought process was something like — “OK, well breast is best. Best is good. I’ll do that.” I don’t ever remember giving any thought to logistics or if it would be difficult or if I would have any problems. I made the decision to breastfeed, I figured I would breastfeed. Easy peasy right?

Heh. Aren’t first-time parents adorable?

The thing was, not everyone embraced and supported our decision (yes, my husband and I decided together). We got a lot of grief about it, which surprised me. Comments and questions constantly followed me about our choice, some curious and some downright combative — one relative remarked that it just “doesn’t seem natural” to not feed a baby out of a bottle (!) while another predicted I would find the whole process too difficult and give it up rather quickly.

But these dismissive judgments just made me dig my heels in even more. Usually I’m pretty placid and patient about things, but I don’t know, even in my naive new-mommy-to-be state, I somehow sensed that my decision to breastfeed was IMPORTANT and something I should stick to.

And, I quickly learned, it wasn’t easy. Due to some complications on my end, C. was whisked to the NICU within a minute or two of being born. I left the hospital before he did. Not ideal in any situation, but certainly not for an emotional, hormonal new mom who didn’t know how to do much of anything and who was completely overwhelmed by the thought that I was the sole provider of nutrition to this sweet, precious newborn. I quickly learned about the importance of hospital-grade breast pumps and football holds and the value of a Boppy.

Somehow though, we made it through. And for that, every day I am grateful.

As it turns out, breastfeeding is something that I’m awesome at — a marvel to me, a person who normally has absolutely no control over my body.

I cannot catch a ball, nor can I throw one or hit one with a bat (or golf club, or tennis racket). I’m not ashamed to say that I’m the “girl” they are talking about when people make derogatory remarks about someone’s physical ability.  My dancing moves would embarrass Elaine Benes. When I used to wrangle my way out of gym class in high school, my fellow students sighed in relief. I was never able to turn a cartwheel.

Effortless is not a word you would use to describe my bodily prowess. In fact, I think the word I’m looking for is unmitigated.

Basically, any activity that requires my body to take the lead ends badly. Except for this one.

Even with our delayed start, after a bit of a learning curve, C. took to breastfeeding like a champ. And nursing my daughter A. was easy — she latched on as soon as I brought her to my breast, minutes after being born — the ultimate reward after all that laboring. Six years later, when my son S. was born, once more, I was unable to nurse right away (he was a big boy, and they needed to do some blood work to rule out any issues), but once he was cleared to eat, we did just fine.

So, suffice it to say, I am a lactivist. I will encourage every pregnant woman I meet to breastfeed, and I will offer emotional support to anyone who chooses to nurse and has a question. But I’m not one who is shoving facts and studies in statistics down your throat. We’ve all read them, all been exposed to the research (my favorite, in case you were wondering, was a story I read in The New York Times where after reviewing another benefit nursing gave to infants, a doctor was actually quoted as saying, “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”) — breastfeeding adds IQ points, lowers risk of SIDS, blah blah blah — yes, these are important, and true, but you don’t need to hear more of that stuff from me.

Because for me, ultimately, breastfeeding was never about the science. There’s a really important factor that scientific research doesn’t account for — one that you will never find in a book or a study or an article in even the most revered journal. Human emotions.

On an acute level, breastfeeding is a very basic relationship between two people and two people alone: mother and child. Deciding to breastfeed, hands downs was one of the smartest, most wonderful decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

There is nothing like the strength of feeling that rushes over you when baby latches on to your breast and begins to suckle for the first time. The sense of calmness that overcomes you as baby drinks the milk that your body so lovingly prepared. No matter how crazy things get when you are caring for an infant, breastfeeding makes you stop. And relax. And focus on one thing. Your baby.

I found that after I nursed my little ones, my head was much clearer and I was a lot more refreshed and energized. And the babies always came away from it relaxed and content as well, always a good thing.

So no, all those years ago, I never expected to be so passionate about breastfeeding. But I feel so blessed that I am.

Suzanne formula-fed both of her kids and her now 8-year-old son is almost as tall as me, so I think she’s doing just fine in the baby-feeding department.

Originally published on October 23, 2010

Finding the Right Fit with Formula Feeding

It would be easy right now to hide behind the medical reason why I couldn’t breastfeed and decided to formula feed both of my children.

But the truth is that I decided breastfeeding wasn’t for me long before my doctors prescribed a blood thinner during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and I learned that this medication would pass through my breastmilk.   As my obstetrician explained, it wouldn’t necessarily be harmful to the baby, but this was enough to confirm my intention not to breastfeed.

That said, I have absolutely nothing against mothers who choose to breastfeed.  I don’t think it’s gross.  I’m not uncomfortable being in the presence of a child being nursed.  In fact, my mom nursed me as an infant so I can only be grateful for this source of nourishment.

Plain and simple, I just decided breastfeeding wasn’t the best approach for my baby and me.

I know, breast is best.  But my two children have thrived, my firstborn on plain old formula, and the second on DHA-enhanced formula.   I consider this my little science experiment, since the DHA-enhanced products only came on the market toward the end of my son’s first year.  By the time my daughter was born four years later, it was in every brand.   So if my second child makes it to the moon before my first, I’ll chalk it up to DHA.

In the meantime, I can still be confident that they received adequate nutrition during that first year, given that my son is stronger and taller than most kids three years older than him (he also drank almost 40 oz. of formula each day, so I can only imagine that it would have been a non-stop latch fest in our house had I breastfed).

Both of my children have strong bones and healthy teeth (while I was already getting cavities filled at age 5).  I am also happy to report that they don’t have a single allergy between them.

What’s more, we made no more than two sick visits to the pediatrician in each of their first years.  So in our case, they haven’t suffered from lack of breastmilk.  Formula served them just fine.

Of course, breastmilk is said to protect against certain cancers, for both mother and baby.  We can only hope that none of us will ever have to wonder “what  if,” because unfortunately cancer most often strikes without explanation.

Even the weight loss benefits of breastfeeding weren’t missed, as my pregnancy weight was shed surprisingly easily and effortlessly after both pregnancies.

And in case you were wondering, the fact that I am a full-time working mom didn’t weigh into the decision of whether or not to breastfeed.   I know I could have managed that part of it, as several of my co-workers have in recent years.  (Thankfully new legislation is protecting the rights of nursing women and accommodating their needs to express breastmilk during the workday, making it even easier for women who might otherwise be deterred from breastfeeding after returning to work.)

It’s just that for me and my family, feeding baby from a bottle with prepared formula was a welcome team effort, and one that I was happy to share with my husband and whoever else proved that they could feed the baby without giving him gas.  I still bonded with each of my children during feeding time, and have many memories of holding them close, singing sweet songs, inhaling their baby scent,  and kissing their soft, fuzzy heads.

That’s why when I hear a critic say that formula feeding is akin to feeding a baby a Big Mac, I cringe at the lack of respect given to moms who either can’t or have chosen with good conscience not to breastfeed their babies.   A mom with all-around good intentions is not depriving her child by supplementing with formula or making formula the mainstay in her baby’s diet.

After all, there’s lots of living proof out there that formula fits the bill — my kids included.

It’s a big issue to “disagree” on, but as much as Amanda is a proponent of breastfeeding, she has never made me feel like I was doing the “wrong” thing by choosing formula.

Originally published on October 23, 2010

Dinner and a Movie? Not Exactly.

Does television have a place at the dinner table? Amanda thinks generally no, but there can be exceptions. But what she saw over the weekend really surprised her. Even more so, her reaction to it.

It was one of those sights that at first, made me recoil. We were at a busy restaurant, sitting across from a family of four with two kids under five. As they munched on their food, the parents were talking and the kids were happily watching “Imagination Movers” — on the portable DVD player that the parents had brought in and placed on the table.

“That is so wrong,” my husband T. said  as he caught me glancing over for the thousandth time. “But, so right.”

My knee jerk reaction? Nothing was right about it. Dinnertime is family time. And if dinnertime was in a public place? Even more so.

Then I started to reconsider. I didn’t know the circumstances — they could have been in the car for hours, maybe they needed to hash things out without interruption, maybe their kitchen was being remodeled so they couldn’t eat at home but the kids are normally monsters in public. Unless I got up and asked them — and I didn’t — I’d never know. And honestly, it was none of my business anyway. In fact, I kind of admired them for putting their parenting decisions so “out there” for folks to judge.

They all seemed pretty happy too. The kids were eating quietly and the parents had a date night of sorts, without having to hire a babysitter. I adore my kids, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to get a word in edgewise when they are around.

And when I think about it, tv in restaurants isn’t anything new — in fact, walk into a chain dining establishment and usually the first thing you are faced with are tons of big screens, all tuned to something different. Maybe these parents were just trying to control what their children watched.

What do you think? Would you ever bring a DVD player into a restaurant?

Working Parents = Overweight Kids? I Don’t Think So.

©miamiamia/stock.xchng

©miamiamia/stock.xchng

A recent study finds that children of working moms weigh more. Suzanne is a perfect example of why this isn’t necessarily true.

Read why:

Sorry, researchers, you’ll have to try (yet) again to come up with a working mom, guilt-inducing generalization that applies to me.

You see, I’ve been working full-time outside the home for the entire time I have been a mother. Neither of my children (now 8 and 3) is anywhere near overweight, has ADD, or watches more than 90 minutes of TV a day. That’s because I pay through the nose so they can go to day care/schools where they are busy learning and being physically active while my husband and I are at work.

We would have more to worry about if either of us didn’t work and all we could afford to eat was Spam, and not the produce at $3.99 lb. and healthy cuts of meat at $4.99 lb. that we buy every week to make home-cooked meals – which we eat together as a family with no exceptions.  And on nights when we stop in at a restaurant for a quick dinner, it’s only because one of the children will be spending the next two hours sweating it out at basketball practice or in ice skating lessons.

Maybe these “researchers” should do a study on parents who sacrifice any personal time to workout on their own, or take care of themselves, because they are giving their all to their children.

On second thought, don’t even bother.

Getting a Late Start (Two Weeks Early) on Starting Solid Foods

Here’s something you should know about me. I have a whole lot of respect for authority figures. Police officers. Teachers. Firefighters. Movie theatre ushers. Flight attendants. Blockbuster video employees.

Pediatricians.

They tell me to do something, chances are I’m going to listen. Not even chances are. I am going to listen. So when our pediatrician told us to not start our babies on solid food (is infant cereal really solid food?) until they were four months old (and six months for S.) I totally and completely obeyed.

© We Are Both Right

© We Are Both Right

Sort of.

See, while starting a little one on solid foods is something I was always a little unsure of and slightly sad about, (as a mom who always exclusively breastfed all my kids, for me, the start of solids means that baby is slowly becoming less dependent on me), it’s also one of my most favorite parts of having a baby. Because at four months old, baby isn’t in that newborn-as-blob stage anymore. It  can react and respond and make faces and spit the food right back atcha. Which I  adore. (Who doesn’t?)

With our youngest, S., my husband T. and I had two very eager baby food sou chefs in our older children C. and A. who were more than excited at the opportunity to help feed their baby brother the good stuff. I remember in the days before S.’s 4-month-old well baby visit, we made a special trip to the store, getting cereal and spoons and bowls. They picked out a bib and helped me secure his booster seat onto our dining room chair. We were all ready.

And then the pediatrician put the kibosh on the big moment. At the time, my daughter A. had food allergies (now outgrown, woot!) and a history of eczema (still there, boo!) and Dr. Q. felt that it would probably be best if we waited to give S. solids until he was six months old.

Now I could have easily gone against her. S. was our third and really, was a little rice cereal going to cause him to break out in hives? Probably not. But I really didn’t want to get in trouble with the pediatrician. We had been with her for nine years and not once did I ever rebel. So we all pouted and for two more months, S. solely existed on breastmilk (and the occasional dab of whipped cream, courtesy of my Bepaw).

And then a few weeks before his six-month well baby visit, S. stopped sleeping through the night.

He could have been teething, he could have had a cold. It could have been anything. But the truth of the matter was that liked to eat. A lot. At that point he was still nursing every three hours during the day and I wasn’t prepared to do the newborn nocturnal hours again seeing as I was so happy to be sleeping in five hours bursts. Couple those things with the fact that he had been showing interested in eating the real stuff, T. and I figured giving him some rice cereal might be worth a shot, reasoning that a fuller belly may help him sleep longer at night.

And that’s when my internal hand-wringing and full-blown neurotic breakdown began. I was a teacher’s pet growing up, a strict by-the-rules type of gal. I’ve never gotten a ticket, parking or otherwise. No detention, no writing of lines. Someone with a medical degree was advising me to do one thing and I was doing another. Was I crazy? Apparently I was. (Now, of course I could have just called her and asked her what she thought, but it just seemed like a silly thing to bother her with. And I think a small part of me was afraid she’d say no. Instead I just drove my husband bananas by talking about it constantly.)

T., as usual, was the voice of reason, telling me that we’ve done this before, that we know what to do and we were simply giving him rice cereal, not Eggs Benedict. So we did. And S. did fine with the cereal, devouring it each time we offered it (although it didn’t really have an effect on his nighttime habits).

The pediatrician didn’t seem to mind much either, although she did remark that giving a child rice cereal wasn’t going to help him sleep through the night better, standing firm on not picking him up out of his crib was (but that’s a post for another day).

Still, I’m glad I waited to start solid foods (my issues with those in any sort of power aside) until the recommended age. Because if I hadn’t and S. had developed allergies or something, I think I probably would have wondered if it was because of something I did.

When did you offer your child solid foods for the first time?

Six was a deciding number for Suzanne when she was trying to decide when to give her eldest his first real meal. Six weeks.

Making the First Move to Start Baby on Solid Foods

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Just perused the baby books (and found another reason why I’m glad I actually wrote in them). I can tell you exactly when each of my children ate their first solid food. Or in looser terms, wore it on their chins so Daddy could take really cute pictures of their scrunched faces wondering what exactly they were supposed to be doing with this foreign mush.

My son was just shy of six weeks old when he had his first spoonful of rice cereal. My daughter, four months old. In case you wondering.

The reason I share this family trivia is because there’s a lot of debate over the timing of baby’s first solid food — which I assume counts rice cereal. Otherwise I could tell you the date when my son first tried banana through one of those mesh strainers (January 19), and the occasion of my daughter’s first taste of applesauce (on a Thursday evening in February). But I digress (again).

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting at least until a baby’s fourth month to introduce solid foods. The risk of bringing on allergies in an infant is the number one reason most parents choose to stick with their pediatrician’s guidelines. Add into the mix a well-being grandma or two, telling you how they fed their babies a steak dinner the day they were born, and modern-day parents often dig in their heels on waiting to start solids.

So why was I in such a rush?

Even as a new mom, I trusted my intuition enough to do what felt right in terms of the baby’s needs and cues. My son was a ravenous baby and I had to do something to satisfy him around his every-two-hours feeding schedule. I knew of other new moms who were adding rice cereal to their baby’s bottle at a doctor’s recommendation to ease certain gastric issues. So if that was OK, I figured some diluted cereal fed off a spoon couldn’t hurt either.

He gobbled it up, letting out a half-second cry between spoonfuls because I couldn’t scoop it up fast enough. Sure, half of it was pushed back out on his tongue, since his reflex up until that point was to suck rather than slurp.

My baby book also tells me that he first slept through the night on the same night he ate rice cereal for the first time. Take from that what you like.

Waiting a little longer to introduce solids foods to S. also felt like the right thing to do for her. She was a little more fussy around feedings, spit-up often, and never really finished her bottles. The first time we gave her the cereal — mainly out of curiosity to see what she would do — she wanted no part of it. So we waited another few weeks (until the pediatrician suggested trying it) to make another attempt. That time we tried applesauce — an immediate favorite!

Like many things you learn from being a parent, sometimes your instinct — verified by a professional opinion if there’s any chance of harm — can lead you in the best direction. For us, it was OK to start solids a little earlier than recommended and nothing bad came of it.

Amanda on the other hand followed the textbook advice for starting her babies on solid food. Did you wait for your pediatrician’s go-ahead or do it on your own timeline?