My son has always been very non-textbook. Baby books and online information tend to give lots of basic timelines about when babies do certain things in their lives, as well as other things that babies “should” do. They should start to sleep through the night between 3 and 12 months, but usually by 6 months. They will be ready for solids at 6 months. They should start teething around 6 months and get two teeth at a time every month or so. Yada yada yada. It’s all lies!
The reality is that there is practically no “normal” with babies because they are so very different and individual. There are easy babies, high-need babies, and babies in between, and within those “types” there are countless variations when it comes to everything from personality, sleeping habits, and eating habits, to developmental milestones and anything else you could think of. The point is, babies are all different. Yet a ridiculous amount of time and worry is spent over comparing babies to the non-existent normal.
For me, the biggest “concern” right now is Cody’s diet. He is still almost exclusively breastfed, by his own choice and in fact, insistence. He’s all about the milk! We offer him soft foods and finger foods, and occasionally even puréed baby food, multiple times a day. He will play with it, mush it, throw it, feed it to the dogs, and even taste it, but he never gets serious about really eating it. In American and modern culture, babies are often weaned completely off of breast milk or formula by 12 months, so having a baby who is now over 13 months and hasn’t even truly started solids is somewhat disconcerting. Yet from the beginning, I’ve been told over and over that breast milk is a baby’s perfect food—I have a hard time buying that suddenly at 6 months, it’s not enough, especially considering that babies were designed to nurse for much longer than that.
Although I’m not incredibly concerned personally, because I know that Cody’s doing just fine, I sometimes start to worry or feel impatient anyway. These feelings stem from two main sources: social and cultural influences, and my desire to have another baby.
When people, from extended family to other moms, hear that Cody is still exclusively breastfed, they often react with shock and concern. Reading the aforementioned baby books and online information makes it seem like Cody is another species of baby so rare that it’s not even worth mentioning him. And while my pediatrician happens to be fairly mellow and reasonable, I have to expect that by our next appointment when Cody is most likely still not going to be eating solids, even he will start to be worried. Everywhere I look, I feel like I’m being told that something is wrong with this situation.
Because I firmly believe breast milk continues to be the perfect food for babies past 6 months and even a year, I’m still pretty much at peace with Cody’s unique timeline. Those voices around me do sneak into my head sometimes, but for the most part, I don’t worry. But where I’m truly starting to feel impatient is in the arena of wanting another baby. Because Cody is not only still nursing, but nursing full-time, it is extremely unlikely for me to be able to get pregnant at this time. And although originally Cory and I had planned to have a four year age gap between our children, ever since Cody was born and we’ve watched him grow so fast over the past year, we’ve wanted another one sooner. Well, be careful what you wish for I guess, because at this rate Cody won’t be weaned until he’s 2 or 3, and we may end up with an almost 4 year age gap after all. =J
In the end, I am committed to respecting Cody’s timetable. I do not want to cut him off in terms of nursing, nor do I want to kick him out of our bed at night, which means that nursing will likely continue for quite a while longer, especially at night. (Which also means he probably won’t start sleeping through the night anytime soon either). That’s okay though—he needs as much milk as be can get until he’s ready to start eating solids for real. Even though we want another baby, I care even more about giving the very best to the one we have already. This is what he needs from me right now, and I’m happy to give it. <3
P.S. I’m hoping to post again soon about my take on the nutritional completeness of breast milk, and what if any supplements really are necessary, so stay tuned for that!