Feeding a Real Food Baby: Breast is Best…But Then What? {Guest Post from Emily at Live Renewed}

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I’m blessed to have met Emily from Live Renewed in real life, and you are blessed to hear her real food baby stories in two parts: today and next Friday. Thank you for your wisdom, Emily!

As parents, we always want to give our kids the very best. We all know that it’s not good to spoil our kids, but it’s kind of fun sometimes, isn’t it – getting them a cute outfit, or a toy (both pre-owned, of course!), that we think they’ll love. If our kids are happy, of course it makes us happy too.

The same goes for food. We want to give them the best food that we can, but we also want to teach them to enjoy food that is healthy and good for them. We worry about when they eat, what they eat and how much they eat. We want our kids to be happy, but we also want them to be well-fed.

When we make choices about what we feed our babies, we are making decisions that will impact the kind of eater that they become as they grow older. We can have a positive effect on the eating habits of our kids when we choose to feed them well from the very beginning.


Breast is Best

Breast milk is the best real food to feed baby from day one, and breastfeeding is the ultimate green and frugal way to feed our babies. I am a big fan of breastfeeding because of the advantages it has for the mother, baby and the environment.

Breast milk contains the perfect nutrition for baby’s growth and development, as well as keeping babies healthy through immune boosting antibodies. Breastfeeding is also good for mamas as it can help with taking off the baby weight after baby is born, as well as decreasing the risk of cancer later in life.

Breastfeeding starts a baby on the right track to becoming a healthy eater later in life. Because a mother’s milk changes flavor based on what she has eaten, a breast fed baby is well prepared for the different flavors that come with introducing solid foods.

In addition to the benefits for mother and baby, breastfeeding is the best choice for the environment as well as our wallets.

How Breastfeeding Saves The Planet and Saves You Money

  • It’s (basically) free. If you exclusively breastfeed your baby there is no cost associated with feeding your baby. Of course, there is a small cost in the extra food for the mother, and breastfeeding supplies like nursing bras, pillow, cover, etc. that a nursing mother may purchase and use, but the actual cost of the food for baby is free.
  • It’s local. I saw a onesie from La Leche League once that said, “Eat local, Breastfeed” and I thought it was so cute and funny, and also so true. There is no transportation involved in the making, producing and feeding of breast milk, and you don’t even have to make late night trips to the store because you ran out of milk. It’s about as local as you can get! :)
  • It doesn’t require energy. Breastfeeding doesn’t require any energy, except on the part of the mother, to produce, process, transport, or prepare the milk for your baby.
  • It’s waste free. Breast milk does not come in a package, and there is no waste created in the production and feeding of breast milk to your baby.

I do want to be sensitive to the fact that every mother and baby’s situation is unique, and I understand that there are many reasons why a mother may be unable to nurse. I believe though, that for those women and families who have the choice, the best choice they can make for their babies, themselves and the planet is to breastfeed their baby for as long as they can.

UPDATE from Katie: I just came across a post on natural baby care from Cara at Health, Home and Happiness. It addresses options for moms who are struggling or cannot breastfeed.

Beyond Breastfeeding – Baby’s First Foods

Baby’s first tastes of solid food is usually something planned and prepared by the parents, either by mixing up rice cereal, popping a jar of baby food open, or even mashing up a ripe banana, and of course serving it to their baby with a spoon. Then the next days, weeks and months are usually filled with different first foods that are mashed, pureed, blended, and bland, and either store-bought, or made at home, all fed to baby by one or both parents while trying to keep the mess as minimal as possible.

Feeding Baby Homemade Baby Food

With my first baby, Kaelyn, I remember distinctly the first time that we tried to feed her mashed bananas. She spit it right back out at us, and I think more ended up on her face, her bib and her high chair than in her mouth. I remember that even at the young age of 5 ½ months she just wanted to grab the spoon and do it herself.

I made almost all of her baby food at home. I spent A LOT of time preparing, cutting, steaming, pureeing and freezing cubes of all different fruits and veggies, and eventually other types of foods too. I wanted to save money, and save on packaging and waste, and I also wanted to give my daughter the best food that I could and teach her to eat and enjoy a variety of foods.

My daughter seemed to be a great eater at first, she rarely rejected any different baby foods that I offered her, and she seemed to do well with eating veggies. As she has gotten older though, she definitely has become pickier, refusing foods that she used to eat without problem, having trouble sitting and focusing on eating her food, among other things. Today I would say that she is a fairly picky and finicky eater, and I do worry if she’s eating enough, and getting enough of the good things.

To Be Continued…Part two of the series is next Friday, when Emily shares her real food successes when she challenged “the norm” with baby number two’s eating habits.

imageEmily McClements is passionate about caring for God’s creation while saving money at the same time. She is a blessed wife and mama to two young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.

All photos from Emily except the baby sleeping, from Flickr.

See my full disclosure statement here.

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10 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    I did the same with my first with roughly the same reaction — pickiness. I blame most of this on the fact that her father is picky too and she’s a LOT better than she used to be. She is 2.5 and there are still a few things she just doesn’t like (mainly anything tomato) but she will eat a lot of stuff. We had a year or so where she was VERY picky though.

    My second, though, started solids around 8 months and we let him feed himself almost always. We occasionally helped him with applesauce, yogurt, or things everyone eats with a spoon by 10 months or so. His tastes have changed a little and there are a few things he won’t eat now that he used to eat, but mostly he’ll eat anything. He eats more like me than my husband though! It may be due to how they were started on solids, or it may be due to who they take after. But he is definitely a better eater than she was at this age (14 mo.)! I’m also NOT tempted to give him junk and am much stricter with him than my daughter.

  2. Brittany says

    Aww man, making us wait for part 2?! :)

    I just started my youngest on solids (egg yolk, bananas, avocados and squash). I’m wanting to delay grains until at least a year, so I’m excited to get some other ideas of things to feed him.

  3. Amanda Brookens says

    Cliffhanger! I am curious to see part two as I am going through this SAME thing right now with my 19 month old and in anticipation for my 2 month old.

    • Katie says

      Heh,heh…I think my 2-year-old has read all that. She definitely thinks she’s in charge of the weaning process (but loves real food too). 😉 Katie

  4. Becki says

    I have three biological children whom I breastfeed. But I now have a foster daughter, who was a complete surprise to us. Would love to hear the second and third best options behind breastfeeding, as unfortunately, my plumbing is not working at the moment, if you know what I mean.

    • Katie says

      From what I understand, there are two recipes for homemade infant formula in Nourishing Traditions, but they’re not for the faint of heart (or short on time). I wish I had more wisdom on the subject, but it’s not something I’ve looked into much. Best of luck! :) Katie

  5. says

    Hi, I don’t know how old yours is, but keep in mind the first year or so is mostly about socialization to food, exposure to new flavors, etc. Don’t sweat it, and try to give her a good variety. (And soon enough, she can dabble in “grown-up” food – spices are more than fine. Other cultures do just fine.)

    Best of luck in your journey!

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