Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Solid Issue--Tips for Introducing Solids and Low Milk Intake


This post has been weighing heavily on my heart since I started introducing solids to P. Like everything with motherhood--I crossed my fingers and hoped that P would take that first spoonful of solids and never look back. It just wasn't that way for us. It has been a battle weekly. Every time I wanted to say we were out of the woods and that things were getting better--we would take a huge step back. I just didn't feel comfortable writing a post about it. I felt like I was doing something wrong in that department, and certainly wasn't the one to give advice on the subject.

I do feel like things have been better in the last month. P and I have gotten into a rhythm with her current schedule--as suggested by her new doctor. I will post that schedule at the bottom of this post for those of you who are curious. I mostly post these schedules for reference just in case I ever do convince my husband to do this again. I am sure there is a whole other post on that issue at some point.

For those reasons I have decided to share our struggle with solids and low milk intake. These two issues have driven me to more tears in the last four months than the first 5 month of motherhood. It has been my biggest struggle. Quite honestly--I have screamed, cried, and thrown things out of the frustration about P's intake. Why? Because I am a perfectionist when it comes to this whole motherhood thing. I. AM. CRAZY. I know it. It is my demon.

Here are my suggestions with introducing solids:

1. Don't be in a hurry to do it--Wait until 6 months if you can.
Don't believe the lie that some babies need solids to sleep through the night. P stopped sleeping through the night after solid introduction. Don't fall for that. Stay in your blissful bottle stage for as long as you can.

2. Educate yourself about first foods and baby led weaning.
I didn't do baby led weaning because P has a crazy gag reflex. She often throws up when she coughs. I just didn't feel comfortable with it, and neither did my husband. I have heard so many amazing success stories with it, and that is great for those parents. It just wasn't that way for us. We have just started finger foods, and it is a lot better. P needed those extra months to get her coordination down.

3. Understand that they spit it all out for the first 2 weeks or so.
Yeah--it all comes back out. They just don't understand how to move food from the front of their mouth to the back to swallow it. It is a fact of the process. You forcing them to eat won't change that.

4. It may take a month before they are eating solids well.
I mean putting away a container or two a meal. It took me about 3 months to get the point where she was eating two containers a meal and three during some meals. I felt pressured to feed her more because she wasn't eating her milk. Turns out that was the worst thing I could do. Once I relaxed a bit with the solid intake--the milk intake went back up. I had to learn how to balance the two. You also may need to experiment with different foods and textures. P likes her stuff thicker than most purees.

5. It is important to know how much is too much.
For P there is a definite difference between swatting at the spoon because I am full and swatting for fun. She pretty much swats non stop--so it was hard to know when she was really full. If I fill her too full--she will vomit everywhere. I want to avoid that like Ebola. You have to learn the cues and what works for your child.

6. Just because they don't like it today doesn't mean they won't like it tomorrow.
In the beginning P despised oatmeal with a passion. She hated that stuff. She would burst into tears if she smelled it. So I backed off. Starting off--she would only eat bananas and stuff mixed with bananas. Then it moved to all fruits. Then, veggie-fruit blends. Now she will eat some stuff that doesn't have any fruit, but still does better with blends. My husband gave her oatmeal after a month of not having it--and she gobbled it up. She loves oatmeal now. One of her favorite foods, seriously. It can change daily.

Next issue is milk intake. This one is really hard. I have heard that it is really common for a lot of babies. We have struggled mightily with this. P has taken as little as 9 ounces in a 24 hour period before. It was at a point where I was concerned about hydration. She just didn't want it at all. Here is  I have found to work with her.

1. Mix milk into everything they eat
EVERYTHING. I am not kidding. I even put milk in P's yogurt. I mix about 1/2 an ounce into most things she eats. For oatmeal--She usually eats 3 tablespoons of oatmeal with 2 ounces of milk. She eats it at breakfast and at dinner. This really helps to boost our ounce count.

2. Anything you mix into food counts toward your ounce total for the day.
If you can, try not to count the ounces. I am not able to do this, but it will help your sanity. If you have to count the ounces, then include anything you mix into food.

3.Have 1 cycle a day in which they can only have a bottle--no solids.
This is the one cycle a day that really helps to catch us up on ounces. I will not let her eat any solids. I just wait for her to want the bottle. She make take a few ounces here and a few there. That is fine. At least she is taking it.

4. Let go of the Eat, Play, Sleep Cycle.
I had to stop killing myself over this. It was making us both crazy. If she doesn't want the dang bottle right when she wakes up. I put her down to play, and she usually lets me know when she is hungry. If she doesn't by an hour before her nap, then I give her the solids. That is the best that I can do. Most of the time she will want the bottle about 45 minutes after the wakes up. She will then take her solids, and go down for a nap. It works for us.

5. Have the last solid feeding two hours or more before they go to sleep for the night.
This will just allow them to have time to get hungry and make it more likely that they will drink their milk at bedtime.

6. Offer water all day long
This was something that P's doctor really stressed at her 9 month appointment. She said any hydration is good hydration. Now, I make sure that I offer P a sippy cup of water after every solid feeding. It has really helped her wet diaper situation. Her urine is completely clear again (sorry for the tmi)

7. Consider that the problem may be your schedule.
When I went to see P's doctor--I took a copy of her schedule and her daily menu. The doctor looked at it and noticed an issue right away. She said we were keeping P up too late. What? I was trying to give her more time between dinner and bedtime--so I was putting her down 3 hours after dinner. P's doc said that the later you put them to bed--the worse they sleep. I have never heard of such a thing. It just goes against all common sense in my opinion. But--I'll be danged if it isn't the truth. Since we have moved P's bedtime--she has started taking more ounces and sleeping so much better. Turns out that she was waking in the night because of the late bedtime, and we were feeding her thinking she was hungry. This was making her less hungry during the day. Take away the night time feedings and viola! Baby girl will take those ounces during the day again. Seems so simple.

I guess I just needed a doctor to recommend the tough love with P. It was rough for the first few nights. She didn't want to go to sleep. But we stuck to our guns. Now, She goes down at 7 pm, and I wake her at 7 am. It has made such a huge difference. I will say that we still go in at about 10:30 most nights and offer her a dream feed. If she takes it--she does so in her sleep. It's the cutest thing and I love that feeding. She makes the sweetest little sighs.

I empower you to not become complacent when something is not going well. I had come to accept P's night time and eating issues. I chalked it up to her just not wanting milk anymore and not being a good sleeper. Turns out, it was something simple the whole time. Keep searching for an answer. There is one out there for you. I promise.

What works for your 9 month + baby?

P's Schedule 40 Weeks
7:00 am--Wake and bottle
7:45--breakfast (oatmeal and yogurt)
9:00--Nap
11:00--Wake and bottle * she usually wont take much if any bottle, but I always offer it
11:45--lunch (chicken and a veggie fruit blend)
1:00--Nap
3:00--wake and bottle *no solids offered this feeding
5:15--Dinner (oatmeal and fruit) 
6:00--We eat dinner and P eats finger foods and has water at the table with us
6:30--bathtime and then in room playtime
7:00--Bed time
10:30--dreamfeed


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