Saturday, February 28, 2009

Imagine Whirled Peas

Babies bring out the happy in people. Hold a baby and you suddenly receive smiles from strangers who would otherwise have passed you by without a glance; you hear genuine “Hello! And how are you today?”s from store clerks instead of their usual “Paper or plastic? [just pick one. I don’t care either way. I wish I were on break.]”s. 

But, as I’m learning, the presence of a baby also creates an overwhelming busybodiness in people whom one would otherwise never believe to be meddlesome. It hasn’t been too weighty as of yet, just a few comments here and there from strangers about using a fan the nursery, wearing blue vs. pink and where Baby sleeps (there is a bitter underground battle between the crib people and the co-sleepers which we’ve managed to sidestep by co-sleeping with Uli for her first 3 months and now having her on a futon). We all have our own ways and tend to roll our eyes at those who differ.

But the food issue. Oh my. Food is a big freakin’ deal in America. We all have our own little ways about us and heaven help the person who implies that their way is better. Even in homes without children we all subscribe to a view on food (there are the I-hate-tomatoes people and the Thai-food-is-the-perfect-food people and the sugar-is-the-devil’s-tool people, and the vegetarians, the vegans, the Gwyneth Paltrows, and the potato-chips-are-a-vegetable people, etc.). It’s not a particularly gracious group to begin with, but add children into the mix and suddenly it appears we’ll protect our food ideals to the death, battering each other over the heads with lunch boxes or sacks (whether plastic or paper is a sure tell about your food philosophy) and jousting with miniature forks. Indeed, I believe it’s a fact that feeding a baby any way but “my” way (where the “my” is whomever is talking) is guaranteed to kill babies or at least make them weak or fat or give them allergies or make them picky eaters for life. Worse: once someone gives you their precious insights into how and what to feed a baby, if you don’t follow their advice to the letter it’s akin to spitting on the graves of their great-grandmothers (or at least spitting on their doctors, and since they chose & like their doctors it’s like spitting on the advice-givers themselves).

So it’s impossible to please everyone or do exactly what everyone else is doing because we’re all doing different things and we all have seemingly good reasons for doing them. Add Justin and me to that mix. We know we’re deviating from the current US practice of starting a baby on cereals at 4 months. Instead, the original plan was to follow the WHO in their recommendation of exclusive breastmilk for a baby’s first six months. But now I see that other studies allow for some diluted juices (apple or banana) prior to 6 months for electrolytes. So we have some options, but regardless of whether we’re b-milk only or a bit of juice, were not planning on any real solids until 6 months.

But beyond Uli’s first 183 days? Even more options. I lean toward a vegetarian / naturopathic / organic / locovorish mix, and though we might make some changes to the following list depending upon what our daddy-doctor’s final nutritional recommendations are, Uli’s food introduction schedule will likely look something like this*:

6-9 months
Berries (black- and blue-)
Cooked/strained fruits (primarily peaches and pears)
Steamed veggies (asparagus, broccoli, carrots, beets, leafy greens like swiss chard and kale, etc.)
Baked veggies (squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, zucchini)

9-12 months
Cooked fruits (apples, apricots)
Fresh cut/mashed fruits/berries (banana, cherry, avocado, melon, plums)
Cooked veggies (brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, peas, peppers, white potatoes)
Non-gluten grains (millet, quinoa)
Beans and lentils
Oils (olive, flax)

12-18 months
Goat milk
More fruits (citrus, figs, raw apples, strawberries)
More veggies (cabbage, corn, eggplant)
Soy (tofu, tempeh, soymilk, yogurt)
More grains (barley, kamut, oats and oatmilk, rye, spelt)
Seeds, seed butters, and seed oils (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin)

18-24 months
Nuts, nut butters, nut oils (almonds and almond milk, cashews, walnuts)

Animal flesh (pasture-raised, organic, local) [mama’s not so sure about this one...]

2-3 years
Peanuts (nuts, butter & oil)
Cow milk
Eggs (free-range, organic, local)

Quite the list, huh? As always, I LOVE a list, but we’ll see how it turns out working in real life. So far, things with Uli have been off my ‘ideal’ schedule... ;-)

*adapted from two main sources: Justin’s notes on infant nutrition and a naturopathic food chart credited to Trang Duong, found in Dreena Burton’s Vive la Vegan.


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