Thursday, May 21, 2009

Introducing Dairy: revising my view on weaning to cow's milk

This week, I have begun to introduce dairy products to Jonah. His formula is soy based, so he has never had anything made with milk that comes from another animal. I was nervous about introducing dairy to Jonah too early, as I've read that immature digestive tract lacks the ability to keep allergens out of the blood stream, making future allergies more likely if exposed to them too early. Here is a website that contains information on this:

I discussed it with Jonah's pediatrician at his nine month check up this past Monday and she said that if I think that we're ready, we can slowly start to try dairy products, but that it wouldn't hurt to wait if that is what I wanted to do. Then, I talked to Daryl about it. Of course he took the "why are you being so obsessive, just give the kid some cheese" attitude towards it. He thinks that I blow things out of proportion, and put too much thought into things. Well, someone has to think about these things, if we're ever to make informed decisions regarding our children.

I decided to give Jonah one of the jarred foods that we bought: spaghetti and cheese dinner. I bought him some jarred chunky foods. Whenever I try making his homemade foods with textures, he gags until he throws up. If his green beans or carrots are even the slightest bit chunky, he gags. Yet when we were at my mother's house, he had some jarred chunky food (I do opt for convenience when traveling!) and loved it. So, I've bit the bullet and bought the jarred chunky foods, just to get him used to the texture.

So anyway, this spaghetti and cheese dinner seemed to me to be like spaghetti-o's. The label had ingredients that I would normally use myself- all organic, no preservatives, just veggies noodles and cheese- but it still seemed like spaghetti-o's. All jarred food seems that way to me. It doesn't taste or smell like the food that the label says is supposed to be in there. It's like a shadow of the existence of the food that it's supposed to be. It all has this strange "baby food" taste and smell to it that I can't quite explain.

Jonah ate it and loved it, regardless of what I thought about it! Today he had yogurt, and again loved it. He was mad that the container was empty when it was finished. Most mothers are thrilled with this milestone. Their baby can eat so many more things now that he can have dairy. I feel kind of terrible about it. I don't really *want* Jonah to have dairy, but I'm kind of doing it because that is what is done.

I guess my reservations came about because of my original plan for introducing milk to Jonah. He wasn't going to have cow's milk until he self weaned- which I projected to be at least the age of two. He was going to get his milk from me. I did not see a reason to make him stop drinking my milk- the milk that is made for him specifically- and start drinking the milk that was made for a baby cow. I felt very strongly about full-term breastfeeding. Of course cheeses and yogurt and other dairy products would be introduced to him, but he would get all of his drinking milk from me.

Now he has stopped nursing completely, and I can only express so much milk for who knows how long. His diet is mostly formula. And so, given this situation, it DOES make sense to wean him from formula to give him cow's milk. Cow's milk is more natural than formula. It makes obvious sense now to introduce whole cow's milk at the age of one, whereas before it didn't fit with how I parent my child.

And so, giving him cheese and yogurt now, seems like the first step down a path that I didn't want to take. I didn't choose this path, but for whatever reasons, I am on it. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he is no longer a breastfed baby, and I need to change the way I'm handling his nutrition. I'm sure that in a few weeks, I will feel better about it, and I will be adjusted to our new schedule for introducing dairy.

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