Monday, May 11

eating and vomit

There is an 'and' in the title, not quite as gross as it could be.

So the Wildflower is 12.5 months old and she's barely eating solids.

A short history:
I started her on banana back at just over 6mths old. She was interested. Although I suspect a lot this 'interest' that parents talk about is simply a natural curiosity of anything and everything, not necessarily a readiness to want to eat. But anyway...

Let me mention what I feel is an important point. The Wildflower is not a mouth baby. I see babies as being mouth or non-mouth babies. Just a term I use. Mouth babies are the vast majority. They discover their world mostly through their mouths. We all know that babies shove everything in, much to parents' anxiety and dismay. Non-mouth babies are rare. Instead of using their mouths as instruments of discovery, they use their hands and eyes.

The Wildflower will slowly and carefully examine anything you give her with her fingers. She will turn things around and every which way with a look ranging from intense focus to playful curiosity. She has done this from the youngest age.

I think this was a major contributing factor in our breastfeeding problems. She just wouldn't open up for the nipple the way most babies do. She barely opened her tiny mouth at all.

So eating solids was never going to be as easy as it is for mouth babies. No matter how complicated this feeding thing can be, parents have on their side the fact that children will put almost anything in their mouths. That's half the challenge.

So after the initial tiny amounts of banana, which she seemed to enjoy as far as that went, she began to teethe. And she didn't really stop teething for any long stretch of time until last month, April. And teething puts her off anything going near her mouth.

But I didn't worry about it. I refuse to make food an issue. Babies/children won't starve, they'll eat - whether it's milk or solids, they'll eat. I've offered her different things every other day. It wasn't until 9.5mths that I believe she was truly interested in eating food. She started to willingly open her mouth to accept food. And it wasn't until last month that she would actually cross the room to have a nibble of rice cake.

So she's ready - developmentally, psychologically... ready.

concentrating on her 3-spoon juggle

Of course it starts slow and they will turn their noses up at lots of what we offer. She likes yoghurt (plain or with crushed strawberries), pear, rice cakes, minced beef(?!), courgette/zucchini, jar food apple & pear. It's such a strange mix. I can't convince her of any other vegetable yet.

But she doesn't eat more than a few baby spoonfuls or my finger-tip-fulls. I tried allowing her to feed herself and it resulted in a whole week of wasted food. I mean, she didn't put anything into her mouth. She simply examined it. A typical non-mouth baby. She prefers me using my fingers.

A few days back I noticed something new. She has started to ask for her milk (she signs for it) when she isn't really hungry. I feel it has become a way to exercise control. Moving out of babyhood straight into the early stages of toddlerhood, she can understand that there is so much she can't do, isn't allowed to do, and is challenging to do. All frustrating of course. Now she can ask for something specific and get it. To coincide with this, she seemed to be going backwards with solids. And her milk is no longer satisfying her anyway so that she spends much of the day irritable because she's hungry, but then only taking small amounts every 40 minutes, or having it when she isn't hungry. Not a happy situation for her.

So DIY Dad pushed for me to encourage her more. I'm very much about allowing a child to regulate their own sleep and eating. I feel this is so important. But because of this new development, I thought it beneficial to encourage more.

So yesterday that's what I did. When she asked for her milk I said, not now darling, let's have X if you're hungry. I don't expect her to understand but.... I also give her an extra cuddle. She cried at two requests and then went for yoghurt, and the rest of the day I kept offering her bits of meat. When we got home I offered her jar apple and pear and she gobbled it up. This was such a long time between milk! And she had appeared content.

She seemed unusually subdued later on and after a cough ended up throwing up. Not tons, just a bit of fruit and water. She asked for her milk and it was bedtime so I gave it to her and she gagged and threw up some more. Poor baby. I felt terrible.

She has been gifted with a healthy body and, other than one mild cold, has never been ill. She refused her milk and drifted off to sleep. Something she doesn't do at night like this. We have a routine. Of course, you can imagine how I began to worry. Had something she ate been off? During the day I could have monitored her, but she was tired and wanted to sleep. argh

So I breeeeeeathed. I asked my anxiety to step aside for a moment. I connected. And I felt that she was fine. That she wasn't ill. That she simply ate too much as she wasn't accustomed to it. I felt better.

What followed was a horrendous night though. She was hungry and asked for milk over 5 times.

She is perfectly fine today. I started her off with yoghurt and then jar fruit. She insisted on milk and I gave it to her. Now I will encourage solids for the next few hours before giving her milk. I don't believe that she understands solids can be satisfying - how can she when she nibbles on so little - and needs a chance to realise that.

I still refuse to push the issue and I'm not going to allow her to cry for her milk. That wasn't ok with me and I buckled under DIY Dad's concerns. I'm going to offer solids throughout the day and this will naturally fill her up.

And on a different note, if you don't normally visit my other blog, you might like to know that I completed the baby moccasins.


  1. My children have always eaten on demand, it works for us!

  2. The Wildflower will settle into eating in her own good time. And when she does go for it, her digestive system will get more used to solids. It's good that you can just go with it and follow your (and the Wildflower's) instincts on this.

    I must say though, when my girl got seriously into her solids (and talk about a 'mouth' or 'oral' girl - oh la!) she slept a lot better. But again, she was ready, and was demanding it. And every child is different.

  3. Hi Amy - what does that mean though?
    Wildflower does eat on demand, except it's not solids and she's not satisfied on milk, and everything else I wrote, lol.

  4. Hey mon, great blog, & yr grl is a real cutey as well. I like what you say about mouth/non mouth true! I have nannied a few of both . I got one that alternates. Does the whole mini scientist turning stuff over and over (prefers the musical doggie upsode down because the wheels are just much more fascinating etc) but up til this week hadnt refused anything I've offered her to eat. Must be teeth (10 months old in 9 days and still none thru) coming....

  5. You're such a good mama! Babies can have off days and tummy troubles just like us...not to worry.
    Regarding solids, my holistic minded pediatrician told me that beginning cereals; (pablum), aren't necessarily for nutritional value. They are designed to teach a baby (6 months & older to learn how to manipulate their tongue, discover their taste buds and learn to swallow a thicker food. (It's also a filler for hungry bottle fed babies).
    I think you're doing great with the little wildflower, and she sounds smart enough and bonded with you to let you know when she's ready to approach solids on a daily basis. I'd say keep doing what you're doing - offering her solids, but let her know the milk is still hers :)

    With all the marketing of baby foods out there, we forget that a baby can survive just perfectly on only it's mama's milk.

  6. Swedish Jenn11 May, 2009

    Wow Mon. I understand food challenges all too well. Though Joe was on solids from 6 months, getting him to add variety was a constant challenge and still is and he's 2 and a half now. I agree with DIY Dad in that she needs more encouragement and with you that she shouldn't have her milk denied. She's hungry, that's for sure. And the throwing up, I think is because her little tummy needs to get used to solids and will. Certainly sounds like you're employing the right tactics here. Wishing you all the best of luck in the food battle. We're still fighting and making small victories each day.

  7. I wouldn't worry too much. Just keep encouraging solids but not forcing them or keeping her from her milk.

    Food actually gives a chemical reaction to the brain, so I wouldn't worry about her not knowing it will fill her up; as long as she tries it, her body will tell her "MORE" if it is what it needs. Nature takes care of that part, at least, when it's ready. Maybe it's just a matter of finding foods (or way to prepare foods) that appeal to her nutritional needs, as well as her tastes.

    I remember when Zeb was going to solids, we were told (by someone??) to only start in the AM. I'm not sure if it's true or makes any difference. Just another idea to think about as her tummy accustoms itself to heavier foods.


  8. I wanted to mention about my last comment, that although we were told to start Zeb in the AM, it was only after he had at least some milk so he wasn't starving and needing more than little bites could give him at once.


  9. Well, for what it's worth, I echo what others have said here and think your intuition on this is best. Of my three, one is a very picky and light eater, and I backed off solids when she wasn't interested, even though her twin brother was gobbling them down. Now that she's older I have come to think she has a very sensitive stomach and self-regulates based on that, and actually needs to eat in smaller doses, so I let her. It's not convenient, but there are signs she is growing out of it, so I think it will all work out...but I had so much doubt along the way!!!

    I related a lot to you trying DH's suggestion although it countered your intuition, as we have been through that a lot in our household and DH and I are currently talking through our different ideas/intuitions about discipline...I think these kinds of differences arise a lot when you are not following a set parenting 'philosophy', so we go back and forth, but in the end at this point my intuition trumps all, and he is OK with that (took a bit to get there, however:-)

  10. It's lovely to read about how you come to and follow through on your intuition.

    With my first child, we started offering pureed foods when he was seven or so months. He liked it and I remained conscious of following his pace, but in retrospect, I realize that by my offering him food on the spoon, I really was setting the pace.

    With our second child, I started offering him whole foods at some point before he turned one (I don't remember exactly when now!). All the food was big (not finger foods and purees) and he would mouth and chew and hold and smell and completely set his own pace. Then, when he was 13 months, he started indicating that he was interested in silverware and went on to eat softer, mushier, foods himself.

    Anyway, this concept has a name -- baby-led weaning -- and there are now lots of websites out there. I also wrote a bit about our experiences on my blog, here.


  11. ooh that sounds tough and frustrating~ it sounds like you're doing really well with it, following intution, listening to wildflower, figuring it out as you go along. my best wishes for smooth eating and less vomiting! her poor tummy~~

  12. Thanks for all your support!

    Stacey - yes, baby-led weaning has always sounded pretty good to me but not 100% convincing either.

  13. Swedish Jenn12 May, 2009

    Oh I should've mentioned that Joe was not a mouth baby at all. No soother for him, never worried about him swallowing a toy/eating dirt, etc. Although he's a champ now, he often sticks to foods he knows and we have a real problem introducing new foods. I guess this is because he is not a mouth baby. So interesting. Thanks for posting, Jenn

  14. Weaning was one thing I think I did well in regards to intuition. Both my kids were ready for the transition at 9 months, and I was totally ready. I didn't do baby-led weaning, but rather made the decision both on their cues and my own needs.

    And based on the anthroposophical view that at about 9 months the baby is typically moving into the upright, both in sitting and standing -- a sign that they are ready for independence on a new level. The idea is that continuing breastfeeding past that stage works against this independence. I think that would vary by child/mother, but in general it was true for me.

  15. That's a really interesting thought Anthromama. And you like you say depends upon the child. Wildflower was teething until way past 10mths and wouldn't take anything, but I do feel she was ready at just after 9 months.


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