Apparently the expression on my face displayed the horror I felt when I discovered my mother-in-law and my 5-month-old baby sharing a chocolate chip cookie. She picked up on my reaction, and blurted out, “I’ve raised three children.”
As I watched the chocolate-laced drool roll down my baby’s chin from his toothless smile, a voice whispered inside my head, “Yeah, but, I’m not so sure you’ve done it right yet.”
She went on to brag about how she fed my husband solid food at the grand old age of six weeks. Her declaration was seasoned with a dash of pride when she informed me of the numerous jars of baby food he could eat at one sitting.
That explained a lot.
My husband has had a love-hate relationship with food all his life. Her theory about when and what to feed babies was in direct opposition with mine. Now, thirty-eight years later, I’ve finally got some backup. From Inhabitots:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among many other health organizations, all recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed until six months of age. These organizations also note that formula is an adequate alternative for moms who choose not to, or who cannot breastfeed. However, formula doesn’t change the exclusivity rule. Breastfed or formula-fed means a baby should receive absolutely zero solid foods until they are six months old or older.
According to the same article, the CDC also ran a study which found that 40-50 percent of babies are being fed solid foods long before they are ready for it—within the first five months of life.
Food is a genuinely intimate subject. What’s more, it’s a touchy subject. We mothers tend to be highly sensitive about our choices of when—and what—to feed our babies, and I’m no exception. The clash with my mother-in-law was my first glimpse of how we take this subject very personally.
I had a very simplistic philosophy: God supplied me with breasts and they worked just fine. Beyond that, I took the advice from experienced mothers until I became one.
My utter disgust at the sight of my baby eating solid foods came from the combination of following my doctor’s advice of no solid foods for the entire first year, and a chocolate chip cookie as his introduction.
Breastfeeding for the first year of life was an appalling idea to my mother-in-law, however, it served my children very well. In one instance, it provided the needed immunities my baby needed when she came face-to-face with a potentially deadly disease, and later spared her from the effects of numerous food allergies.
In spite of the abundance of manufactured foods on the market today, our babies are still born with the same needs they’ve had since the beginning of time—warm milk and a loving mother’s arms. At least for the first six months.