Still Breastfeeding While Gradually Introducing Solids
It was a struggle for me to decide how to handle the transition from full-time breastfeeding to breastfeeding and cooking for my little one.
I was aiming for the 6 months milestone before introducing solids to Sofia’s diet, but then I realised that what works for other babies doesn’t necessarily mean that it would work for my own.
The thing is – in Denmark babies are almost exclusively breastfed and most moms start with the solids around month 4.
In Bulgaria most babies are formula fed. Most moms start with the solids around month 6.
I have the feeling that the reason for that is that the formula milk is thicker, hence keep the babies full for longer, which is why they can go without solids until later..
Conversely, the breastfed babies get hungrier more often (and sleep for shorter amount of time), which is why by the time they get 4-5 months old they need more than their mommies milk. Some choose a bottle before bed (Sofia refused it completely) others skip it and go straight to solids.
Sofia was around 5 months when she had her first gluten-free porridge from millet with a little bit of butter. Sofia had no problem swallowing the food and she did sleep better. I could feel that she was ready for the transition. For a few weeks she was eating gluten-free porridges (millet, rice, corn), before I began introducing fruits and veggies.
I wasn’t following the 3 day rule – one vegetable for three days and I refused to follow the rule of giving one vegetable until my baby eats x amount of it to only then move on to the next one. Instead, I was paying attention to how her belly reacted to the veggies, introducing one and then adding another to it. I waited with the fruits and it was after she turned 6 months that she had some apples, pears and plums, and then mango, bananas, avocado and strawberries. Interestingly, she is keener on savoury than sweet!!!
She is almost 7 months now and only a few days ago I have her gluten for the first time – we began with spelt porridge and oatmeal. The reason to do it now was because her belly was getting harder from the rice and bananas and she needed some fibre. The spelt porridge with a little bit of plums did help a lot!
I’m definitely not exemplary mommy. I do things my own way. I guess I’m somewhere in between a Bulgarian and a Danish mother – and believe me they are polar opposites.
Generally (I underline generally) in Bulgaria we tend to obsess over trends – if gluten-free diet (or vegan) is the thing to be – many people will go gluten-free and advocate it is as the only right lifestyle to lead. My mom and I had a lot of discussions on the subject, because if in Eastern Europe gluten is introduced quite late (8-9 months) in Denmark most moms start on it when their baby is 4 months old.
I thought both ways were somewhat extreme – 4 months was way too early and 8 months way too late. In fact, the research proposes that if you give your little one gluten way too early there’s a risk of developing autoimmune disease (in addition to other factors that should be present), but if it’s too late the baby can develop gluten intolerance. So here I’m playing it safe and choosing the middle grounds. hehe.
In Eastern Europe the babies are treated as incredibly fragile – they should be dressed with at least one more layer of clothing, they should eat only Ghee (conventional butter? No way!), and drink spring water, while at the same time, and quite paradoxically the system encourages mommies to go for the bottle, refusing to promote the benefits of breastfeeding.
In Scandinavia – you give your baby meat around 6 months, use water from the tap (and after 4 months you don’t even boil it), and noone’s afraid to let their baby drink from their own glass (including me). Most of the babies here have also tasted human food – I mean meatballs and all that – by the time they turn 7 months. Extreme, eh? But then the mommies keep breastfeeding in-between until the little one is almost 1 year… and cooking from scratch everything they give.
I chose to breastfeed and be both cautious and experimental in regards to how I feed Sofia. I weigh the opinions I hear and then do additional research myself. There is so many sources available online you can use in order to develop your own routine.
Today, Sofia had also breakfast for the first time (until now it was only lunch and dinner), while the frequency breastfeeding… well, it hasn’t really changed. I nurse her in-between the feedings, be it for comfort or just because she wants some milk, so I can’t really say that my breastfeeding experience is getting easier. But at least it’s exciting… to see how she frowns at the taste of something sour, and how she asks for more when I give her a veggie that she likes.
Steam the veggies, blend them and then thin the puree until you get the right consistency (it varies from baby to baby) and then add the oil of your choice.
What about you and your baby? How are you approaching the introduction of solids?