9.27.2011

concerning my child's eating habits


I wrote this when River was 16 months old and never got around to posting it. Going back and reading it made me laugh. I found that for us, 12 months was that magical age when people started asking me, "you're still breastfeeding?" and similar questions. Of course, we've weaned since, but here's your answer! And for the record, two months later he decided on his own to begin filling his little tummy with solids. I was never worried. :)

Am I still breastfeeding? Yes, as you can clearly see (and I assume you already know the answer) I am still breastfeeding. It’s not so much the question that annoys me as the context in which it is said. If the question was simply, “You’re still breastfeeding?” that would be perfectly understandable for someone to voice their curiosity about extended nursing... although I think it’s sad that nursing my sixteen-month-old is considered extended breastfeeding; however, the question almost always comes in a tone a voice that says, “That’s weird! And sort of gross. Shouldn't you have weaned him like, four months ago?” Yes, I know many children are weaned at six months, and even less at one year. Yes, I know you gave your three-week-old cereal in his bottle thirty years ago. Yes, I know you think I’m probably going to nurse him until he’s twelve. Yes, I’m still breastfeeding.

No, he’s not “probably really hungry” because he “hasn’t eaten any real food.” First of all, breast milk is real food. If it is not, then I have been feeding my kid fake food his entire life. Now these Oreos I’m stuffing in my mouth? This is fake food at its finest. Second of all, River receives 90% of his nutrition from me, every day. He rarely eats more solid food than a snack here, a snack there. So if this kid is “really hungry” because the lack of “real” food, he sure doesn’t show it at 32 inches high and 23 pounds.

He is a little low in his iron, but not by much. We're working on it... but no, he’s not low in iron because I’m still breastfeeding. Breastfeeding beyond a year does not cause low iron. He has low iron because he won’t eat anything else! And in case you’re wondering (because I know you are), no, I do not deprive him of solid food, refuse to offer solid food, or discourage him eating solid food. In fact, I offer him solid food every day. I am not discouraged, worried, nor upset about his unwillingness to eat solid food. Sometimes I get a little impatient and wonder when we’ll be able to enjoy a nice family dinner together all around the table, but when it comes down to it I know that when he is ready, he will let me know.

And on that note, no, he does not need cake! Don’t oh-come-on-it's- just-one-bite me! Don't tell me the crazy story of your friend from college who didn't let her son eat cake until he turned five. (What's so wrong with that, anyway?) Did he ask for cake? Then why would I shove it in his mouth if he didn't ask for it and most definitely doesn't need it? Why are you so concerned that I am still breastfeeding, yet you want me to give my one year old cake -- something packed with sugar and of no nutritional value? Sometimes I give him tastes of cake. But why is it your business at all how often I should offer junk food to my child? He does not eat vegetables, he hardly eats fruits and grains, and you think it would be fun to give him cake. Thanks, but I would much rather give him a palate for healthy solids first.

So next time you feel the need to ask me if I’m still nursing, suggest that my child is probably unhealthy in some way because I’m still nursing, or inquire as to whether I would like to offer him a piece of cake, you know the answer. ;)

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