Why we need to ditch the guilt about feeding our kids
This post is sponsored by Blackmores.
When it comes to parenting, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And nothing fires up an online mother’s forum more than talking about infant nutrition and what you feed your kids.
Breast vs bottle. Organic home-grown vegetable vs. whatever vegetables you can manage to get them to eat. Home cooked vs. convenience. No longer decisions that individual parents can make based on their personal situation, but rather a choice up for judgement and ridicule.
I have two children. When my eldest started solids I made everything from scratch. I would whip up a few purées while she was napping and was very careful to introduce each food individually. Cake never touched her lips until we celebrated her first birthday.
With my second, I had far less time to dedicate to making her food. She ate a mixture of what we were eating and sachets of baby food from the supermarket, often left to feed herself in the high chair next to me while I prepared her sister’s meal or caught up on some work. I can’t tell you when she tried cake for the first time but I think it was probably around the 6-month mark when she reached across to her sister’s plate and wrapped her little fist around a piece of cake.
Parenting is full of irony
Ironically it is my youngest who is my “good” eater and will demolish a bowl of whatever you put in front of her. Despite the extra care and attention given to my eldest in her early journey with food, she is particularly fussy, often screwing her nose up at the same food her sister has just inhaled. Unless, of course, that food is custard, strawberries (small wins) or ice cream…
The thing with feeding your kids is that there are so many factors at play. Right from that very first feed, no two mothers will have the same experience. The mother with the traumatic birth may struggle emotionally and breastfeeding can suffer as a result. Tongue and lip ties can also affect breastfeeding, as can the mother’s own health and strength of her milk supply. All factors mostly out of our control.
When my eldest was 18 months old, I made the decision to wean her from breastfeeding. I often joke that if I hadn’t stopped then she would still be breastfeeding now. My youngest decided at 13 months that she had had enough and that was that. Feeding one minute, weaned the next, and without any prior notice of intent to me and my breasts!
We’re all just doing our best
At the end of the day, we are all just doing the best with what we’ve been given. If organic vegetables are within your budget and that is important to you, that’s great! If you grow your own, amazing (and can you share your secret?). If every mealtime is a battle to just get your kid to eat one green thing on their plate, I hear you! If you feel like a human milk bar, open all hours, you got this! And if you are getting some rest while your partner gives the baby a bottle, you will feel so much better after that sleep!
If you are making the best decisions for your family and children, which I know you are, then you have nothing to feel guilty about. On more than one occasion I’ve fed my kids cereal for dinner. I’ve tricked them into eating vegetables by hiding them in sauces. I’ve slaved over a hot stove only for them to make gagging faces at the food. I’ve cut their lunch into pretty shapes and eaten the crusts and offcuts for my own. I have caught my youngest sitting in the pantry, happily snacking on a box of Jatz she found on the shelf.
It’s time to ditch the guilt
Parenting and raising kids to be good adults, isn’t about the individual moments. It’s about the sum of the parts. So next time you are feeling guilty about feeding your kids, stop and look at the big picture. Sure their health and nutrition is important, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Seek out help if you need it, read widely and read the experts, and most of all, love your kids hard, because that is the most important job you have.
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