Wednesday, March 13, 2013
What I've Learned Part 2: Feeding
Oh, you have to feed it? Well that's easy, right? Ha. I can't tell you how many posts I see on my online baby community asking feeding questions - starting right from the time those babies are born to even now, a year later.
I was going to be so good, I tell you. Breastfeed exclusively for six months, and then introduce solids - all organic and homemade of course.
And now? I'll happily admit to feeding my mostly formula-fed baby a hot dog on more than one occasion in the past couple of weeks.
So, to reiterate what this series is all about - I'm letting you know what we did, how it worked out, and if we would do anything differently next time.
Month 0-1: The plan was to breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months. One of the reasons I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth was that it was supposed to promote a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Well, that didn't really work out and Judah never latched on. You can read all about the breastfeeding woes here, if you need a recap, but it's a long story that makes me sad. Suffice it to say, things didn't go as expected. We only had two bottles in the house that I received at a shower and no formula - it's just not something I thought we'd need, and it was an expense I was not prepared for.
I pumped every two-three hours during the first month, and rented a hospital grade pump. But even doing that, my production was never what it needed to be to meet Judah's needs, so he was supplemented with formula from the get-go. After a month, I returned the pump to the hospital and decided it would be better for everyone, emotionally, if we switched to formula full time. Honestly, it was a relief to only have one thing to worry about and one thing that he needed. And I could spend more time with my baby when I wasn't having to pump and then clean the parts every time. Most of the formula he received was in the ready-to-drink Enfamil 2oz. Nursettes.
Months 1-5: Exclusively formula fed. Every 2-3 hours the first month. Then every 3-4. Eventually he was on 5 total bottles a day at 6oz. each by 5 months old. We found it helpful to mix all of our bottles the night before (If we knew we were going to use them within 24 hours), store them in the fridge, and heat them up as needed. We did all powdered formula after the first month or so.
Supplies we used:
• A Medela Symphony Hospital Grade Pump & Accessory Parts - $50 a month for rental at our hospital, and the accessories/flanges/tubes/bottles etc. were given to us in the hospital.
• Breastflow Bottles - wouldn't recommend, as they were too fast flowing for us
• Avent Bottles - Worked ok, but made Judah a little refluxy
• Medela Bottles - Great for storing breastmilk and worked pretty well
• Dr. Browns Bottles - By far the best for us. They eliminated any spit-up, gassyness and reflux we had. The only downside is the millions of parts they come with that you have to clean. Also, the bottles are pretty skinny, so a lot of bottle brushes are too large to fit. These run about $15 for a pack of 3.
• Cloth bibs - Judah wasn't really a spitter-upper, but he did make a mess while eating and often had formula pooling around his chin and neck.
• Ready-to-Drink Enfamil Formula - $8 for a 6-pack of 2oz. bottles.
• Powdered Enfamil Gentlease - $24 for a 64oz tub + $39ish for 2 refills (holy crap, right?)
• Powdered Kirkland (Costco brand) Formula - $16 for a large tub.
What I'd do differently:
• I'm still disappointed about the breastfeeding "failure". If I do it again, I will TAKE A CLASS. I did read The Nursing Mother's Companion (ooh, retro illustrations!), and felt I had a good handle on the situation before Judah was born, but nothing is as good as one-on-one interaction with someone who really knows what they're talking about. The lactation consultant I saw at the hospital was very good, and helped Judah latch with a nipple shield, but by the time we used it, my milk production was too low to really do much. Next time I'll bring those shields to the hospital with me just in case, because those first few feedings are SO important. If you choose to use a shield - ask a lactation consultant to make sure you're getting the correct size. Also? Don't be afraid to use the services of an LC. An in-hospital one-on-one hour-long consultation for us ran about $40.
• Under the Affordable Care Act, many breast pumps are completely covered by insurance. I just checked in with our new plan at work because I was curious, and sure enough, a breast pump was a covered cost. So next time I will definitely be checking into having insurance pay for a pump or rental!
Month 5 - 7: We dove into the world of solids a little early. Pediatricians have different guidelines for when to introduce baby's first solids, but ours said between 4-6 months, after they've lost their tongue-thrust reflex. We started with organic brown rice cereal, per the advice of our pediatrician. Judah was just kind of "meh." Then, a few weeks later we tried some mashed avocado - and it went over much better. His first few foods were avocado, banana, and sweet potato.
He never had a hard time swallowing food or eating off of a spoon, and really seemed to love to eat and try new flavors. Most doctors/allergists will advise you to try a new food, then wait 3-4 days before introducing anything new to see if they develop an allergic reaction. We did this at first, but eventually just stayed away from the high allergen foods like peanut butter, strawberries, and eggs. Although a new study is saying to introduce these high allergen foods EARLIER to prevent allergies. So...who the hell knows which is right. Just trust your instincts, and if you don't have a family history of food allergies, it's probably going to be ok.
I started off making most of his food by hand. Some foods were easy - like avocado and banana - to just mash up and give him directly. Other foods, like sweet potato, I would bake, then puree with a little water. Eventually I said, "screw it" and gave up and just switched to organic pouches like Ella's Kitchen and Plum Organics. We weren't spending any more money by doing it this way, and I trusted that the ingredients were pure with no added colors, preservatives, flavors, sweeteners, crap, etc. Along with solids, Judah was still having about 5 bottles a day. He went down to four (8oz) around 7/8 months.
In the beginning, Judah would just have one solid "meal" a day. We didn't increase it to three until about 8/9 months or so. We also introduced a sippy cup around six months, with only a couple ounces of water in it. Mostly, Judah just liked to throw it on the floor.
Supplies we used:
• Baby Spoons
• Organic Food Pouches
• Bumbo Seat with Tray
• Plastic Bibs you can wipe off easily
• Sippy cup with a soft spout
• Puffed rice snacks (like Gerber Puffs) and Mum-Mum crackers - 7/8 months
What I'd do differently:
• The only thing I would change is I would start with vegetables instead of rice cereal.
8 Months - Present: Finger foods! I mentioned in my last post about Judah's wildly independent streak. At around 8 months he decided he didn't like anyone feeding him with a spoon. He wanted to do it himself. This led to a lot of shenanigans where I would feed him by rotating two spoons. I would load up 2 spoons with his puree and give him one. He would hand it back to me while I gave him the other spoon. Rinse. Repeat.
I decided now would be a good time to introduce more finger foods. We went with soft cut up chunks of fruit like peaches, pears, avocado and shreds of cheese, cubes of cooked carrots and baked sweet potatoes, tiny toast points with hummus, etc. It was a challenge to find a variety of foods that he could feed himself and that were still soft. But it was also a fun way for me to get him to try new foods that are different and fun. For example, at one meal he had toast cubes with hummus, crumbled feta cheese, shreds of rotisserie chicken, and peas covered in tzatziki sauce. I can tell you I probably didn't eat any of that when I was a baby. I hope to expose him to a variety of food cultures, because that's how we like to eat! We love Greek, Mexican, Italian, Asian, French...so why shouldn't Judah? At age one, he only has around 7 teeth and no molars - but you'd be surprised at how powerful those little gums are - as anyone that's been bitten by a baby with no teeth can attest.
Judah loved the independence this provided him and the exploratory nature of playing with a variety of foods. By Thanksgiving, he was eating pretty much everything we were, provided it wasn't a choking hazard (popcorn, pretzels, hard uncooked veggies & fruits, whole grapes & raisins, etc.). Luckily he had a pretty good pincer grasp by about 8 months, so that was helpful. So, we didn't do the full baby-led weaning (where you skip purees entirely), but we did a combination of purees and finger foods that both Scott and I felt comfortable with.
I still buy purees every once in a while. He can squeeze the pouch himself and suck the puree out that way. I also like to freeze dots of the purees on wax paper as a little finger food treat.
Now, at 12½ months, Judah can pretty much eat anything except for the above noted choking hazards. He's also become obsessed with forks lately, and I feel okay giving him a dull baby fork. It's so cute: I load the fork for him and watch him study it and try to figure out how to get the food on the fork himself. At this age now, when he's done with something, he shows us by immediately tossing it on the floor. He's also kind of sneaky and will feed the dogs a bite, then himself, then the dogs again, then himself. It's a miracle our dogs aren't obese at this point. Although he also enjoys sharing with me. If I ask him for a bite, he'll hold out a messy, slimy hand with a little choice tidbit to try and feed me.
I also started introducing a straw sippy instead of a regular spout cup. It has worked so much easier for us and it lets Judah get his water himself. Our favorite is this Playtex one.
• Playtex Straw Sippy Cups
• Still using baby spoons and forks
• Plastic Bibs
• High Chair - Graco Cozy Dinette - My parents found this one on Craigslist in great condition for $50 - Thanks, parents!
What I'd do differently:
• Not much. I say that now. We'll see how picky of an eater he turns out to be...
If you need any meal ideas, feel free to ask! I've got a million of them.