Feeding Sadie with love and respect

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Trevor and I made the decision to practice Attachment Parenting before Sadie was even born. The principles made total sense to us, and since Sadie’s birth we have found that they have come quite naturally. I love how the principles will continue to follow our parenting journey after Sadie’s infancy is well over. So many parenting methods, it seems, only cover certain stages of a child’s growth. Sure, our tactics will change as Sadie develops, but the principles of Attachment Parenting will be woven in along the way.

Following the principle, Feeding with Love and Respect, has been pretty straightforward so far. I first typed “easy,” but then I remembered it took us 12 weeks (!) to get into the swing of breastfeeding, so I had to retract that statement. We started Sadie on solids a little earlier than we’d originally planned, but I believe she was developmentally ready, so I don’t sweat it too much. There are a few things we’ve done that I suspect we will do differently if there’s a Spawn II (oh, and I’m clearly not a doctor, so don’t go thinking this is me giving you medical advice–do your own research).

  • I wish we would have skipped the rice cereal. It was not great on her tummy, and there’s really no good reason it’s the “traditional” first food in the U.S.
  • I discovered “baby led weaning” a little late in the game. Unless 2.0 is dramatically different from Sadie, we will probably skip spoon-feeding altogether.
  • We were WAY paranoid about food allergies, and I don’t think we had much of a good reason to be. We were planning on waiting until Sadie was a whole year old before giving her: dairy, wheat, sugar, corn, fish, tomatoes, citrus, berries and probably a whole bunch of other things that she’s not going to be allergic to. Of course, you never know about an allergy until you know. But neither Trevor nor I have a single food allergy. And our parents and siblings don’t have food allergies, either. I think we’ll be much more adventuresome from the start if there’s a next time.

My biggest challenge now is that I’ve become a little paranoid about pesticides and the like on produce. I think this is a much more reasonable worry for me to have than allergies. And, at least in Little Rock, organic produce is not so cheap. I believe, though, that food is an investment in health and that the prices we’ve been paying for food are artificially low anyway, so I’m sucking it up. One way to hone-in on how to prioritize what to shell out for organic over conventional is to find a list of the foods that are most heavily contaminated. The foods that Sadie currently eats that I’m now making a concerted effort to buy organically are pears, apples, strawberries and grapes (imported).

As Sadie grows, I see some additional challenges on the horizon.

  • Modeling healthy eating habits. This shouldn’t be as hard as it is, but Girl Scout Cookies are SO GOOD. I’m not saying that I never want Sadie to have a sweet treat. But I will say that I would never want her to indulge herself in them as much as I have allowed myself to. At least not until she is old enough to truly understand the ramifications (which I somehow continue to ignore). I’ve already found myself going into another room to eat a cookie, because she’s now old enough to want whatever I have. So, I need to make a commitment to not eating foods I wouldn’t want Sadie to eat, rather than just hiding it from her. Another worry I have is her ability to make wise food choices when around other people who do not. Has anybody successfully done this?
  • In my family, food–namely dessert–is used extensively as a reward. I do it with myself (though I find I “reward” myself more often than not, even if I didn’t “earn” it), and I don’t actually like the way it makes me feel. So that’s something else I want to change before Sadie can notice what’s going on. I often hear my siblings telling their children that they can’t have dessert unless they take a certain number of bites of their dinner. Or that they’ll lose dessert if they don’t behave. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for them, or that it’s going to cause problems down the road. But I don’t want to do that with Sadie. Theoretically, I’d like dessert to be a rare occurrence. And something that we have just because. Not something Sadie earns or feels entitled to. Just a treat, without so much value. I don’t want her to feel like vegetables are something she has to “get through” in order to have dessert. That’s not how it is in The Real World, and isn’t that what I’m preparing her for? Anybody have thoughts on ways to do this?
  • Sort of tied to the two above, I think a big part of the strategy will be to do a much better job at limiting what comes in our door. To only have healthy options in our home. I like Sadie to have choices, and if there’s only good food there for her to choose, she’ll have to choose something good. The challenge will be when we’re not at home. I don’t feel like the occasional treat will hurt her, but I also don’t want to feel like I have to limit her time with other people because she want’s what they’re having, and what they’re having is unhealthy. I think part of this issue, too, is that a lot of times we eat foods or drink drinks that “aren’t that bad” for us (that’s often how I currently rationalize my own food choices). Sure, pretzels aren’t that bad for me. They’re certainly a better substitute for potato chips. But they aren’t good for me. They’re not a good substitute for a whole food, like a fruit or a vegetable. I’m not trying to be on some sort of unrealistic high-horse, saying I’ll always eat celery instead of pretzels. But I think it’s important that I try to change how I view foods so I can model healthy eating habits and offer healthy choices. I know some might say that I’ve “turned out fine” despite lots of Ben & Jerry’s and french fries. But I’ve got a pretty messed up body image. And I don’t want that for Sadie at all.

This parenting gig sure comes with a lot of responsibilities!

2 thoughts on “Feeding Sadie with love and respect

  1. Shannon

    my hat’s off to you brooke. that’s quite a task and chore to always make healthy food choices but it sure does help if we can eat that way then it would be much easier to feed our kids that way. i agree with not using the sweets as treats. seems like a lot of people want them have those as treats because they know they taste good and like them but the kid doesn’t until you give it to them. it’s almost as if it is for their enjoyment rather than the kid’s, if that makes sense. Nash doesn’t eat totally healthy but I try to balance out what he has like making sure he is eating fruits and veggies and relatively balance diet and not just junk. i definately limit the junk to barely any. Sometimes he gets a sucker ever now and then but not on a regulary basis.

  2. Pingback: Feed With Love and Respect Blog Carnival – 2010 | Attachment Parenting International Blog

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