During the past month Child-1 hadn’t picked up any weight, and even though I expected it (because she had been sick for the ten days before we measured her), I still felt a pang of doubt and worry.
Knowing that growth charts are based on the growth of formula-fed babies (and very likely formula-fed babies who started solids at 3 or 4 months), I set out to find data on breastfed babies. It wasn’t very hard to do: the WHO released new growth charts based on extensive research in 2006. As expected, there’s a marked difference – in fact, exactly what I’ve been seeing with Child-1. She started off growing faster than the trend line predicted, but slowed down around six months and was dipping below the line by nine months. From now on, I’m plotting her growth on these charts!
In spite of the charts, I was still a bit worried about how much (or rather, how little) Child-1 was (not) eating. She still nurses a lot, so theoretically I understand that she’s getting enough nutrition – but is she really? There’s been a few times – I can count them on my one hand – when she ate so much that I was astounded. Most often, however, she takes a nibble out of the apple, spits the chunk out, and that’s it; or she smears the porridge all over the tray; or she waves the piece of fish in the air like a conductor; or she squishes the banana through her fingers and giggles.
In Baby-Led Weaning, they repeatedly say that there’s no need to be concerned as long as your child is still drinking a lot of milk, and that it’s important to let go of your expectations of how much a child should be eating by a certain age. It’s really only now that I understand that.
On Sunday we spent some time with the grandparents and other family. Child-1 behaved much like usual: she took a few bites out of a plum, waved it around, let it roll onto the floor; she sucked on a piece of steak; she grasped five pieces of biltong [beef jerky] in her hands and gnawed on one; she drank lots of water, spilled even more on her clothes, and enjoyed the sound her teeth made on the glass. Everybody commented on how much she was eating.
That was something I needed to hear! To me it felt like she wasn’t eating anything. Everybody else noticed that she was. I guess it’s one of those cases of not noticing the gradual change happening right under your nose. The family helped me to realise (with more than my head) that she’s doing fine and having a great time with food.
Did you ever feel worried about your child’s growth / eating habits / nutrtition? Was there something someone said that reassured you that you were doing fine? Please share it with us!