Our baby has been eating solids for about five months now give or take. She’s never really been a big eater though. She much prefers breast milk. That had never really been an issue.
This month things have been different. The big difference is that we’ve been trying to ween her off the breast milk. It’s not that we are against breast milk. We were told by our midwife group that we should breast feed babies for as long as possible. Thus we have come to the point that is as long as possible. Mum, baby’s mum not mine, is going to start working the night shift which means I’ll be the night house husband. Since I can’t produce milk we need the baby to know that she isn’t going to be breastfed but she can still have cows milk and that she needs to eat.
Sounds like it should be an easy task right? No, it hasn’t been an easy month. The problem stemming from just how much our baby loves breastfeeding. We have succumbed occasionally at night time when we are both way too tired to try and calm our distressed baby knowing that all she needs is a breast to suckle on. However during the day we have been strict on the no breast milk policy. For the most part our baby seems fine with this. I’ve noticed though if I’m not wearing a T-shirt she’ll get curious about my nipples even though prior to the milk ban she knew full well that mine were just for show. When she plays with mum though it gets worse because every now and then she wants a drink and gets very insistent and then very grumpy. So far the solution to this problem has been out of sight out of mind. That is to say that I’ll take her for a walk to the park or just play with her in the next room. This usually works.
I mentioned for the most part she is fine. That’s in terms of her general mood and activity during the day. Feeding has become somewhat of a nightmare. Before there was never a sense of ‘You have to eat.’ we knew that if she didn’t eat she’d still get enough from breast milk. Feeding was just a matter of getting her used to solids. Sometimes she doesn’t really want to eat. She gets hungrier and hungrier until she reaches a point where she inconsolably wants breast milk. She’ll push away food and drink and be grumpy. In this mood she usually reaches a point where she accepts she has to eat but it’s a long hour or two.
Fortunately, we have some tricks up our sleeves. We have learnt a few things in this process. Firstly, babies don’t like mushy foods. Maybe yours does and if so you are lucky. Our girl looks at the mush and gives us a look as if to say would you eat it? So presentation. Basically whenever we give the baby something to eat we make sure it is something we would want to eat. This is especially good because lately our girl has been trying to feed us her food. The second thing we have learnt is; if you hit on a winner keep on doing it. A baby doesn’t need to eat a different meal each day. As long as she is getting what she needs and she’s happy to eat it you’re onto something. For us the three winners are: bananas, gnocchi and natto rice (fermented soy beans). It actually equals a reasonably healthy diet. She gets carbohydrates from the gnocchi and rice. Vitamins and fibre from the banana and protein from the natto. She does need to eat more vegetables though. We often mix the gnocchi with a vegetable. Popular ones have been spinach gnocchi (actually any green really) and pumpkin gnocchi. We often make a white cream sauce to go with it and mix some carrots and onions into that. She loves cream sauce. Of course it’s actually made with just milk and flour we don’t give her butter or cream. The downside though is that gnocchi is a time consuming meal to make. The third thing we have learnt is to make sure the food we are eating can be eaten by her. We’ve found that our baby wants what we’re eating or gnocchi. The final thing we’ve learnt is that babies are snobs. We’ve been buying very fresh good quality foods and she can tell the difference when we give her something regular. Whether that means we should be giving her lower quality foods to de-snob her or if we should just keep on getting the good stuff is hard to tell. Personally I want to keep on getting the good stuff. It makes such a difference.
What we’ve learnt about breast feeding; first breast feeding takes a lot of energy out of mum. Second, babies drink a lot of breast milk. We didn’t realise just how much she drank until we started giving her cows milk. She was definitely drinking close to a cup of milk each time. The third thing we learnt is that the baby can get some odd associations if you’re not careful. Babies love routine so before you know it there are a whole lot of odd little subroutines that you never meant to establish. Whenever mum showered baby the baby ended up latching on and having a drink. This eventually led to an association between breastfeeding and bath/shower time. Our solution is simple enough. I shower the baby.
Which leads me to my conclusion. Dads, when baby goes off the breast milk your job is to fill that gap.