How you choose to nourish and feed your child and family is a completely personal and often difficult choice. From the very beginning decisions can be tough and they’re often criticized. Formula or breastmilk? Purees or baby led weaning? Weaning at one or extended nursing? Cow’s milk or not? It’s hard to find the right answer. But the thing is, there is no one right answer. You’d think the food part would be easy for me given I’m a dietitian, but feeding a child — especially YOUR OWN child — is one of the biggest responsibilities we have as parents, and it is not easy.
One of our biggest food challenges came around when it was time to wean. Though that was almost a year ago, it’s an ongoing process full of constant wondering and questioning. What we’re doing today may change tomorrow. Whether you nursed or formula fed your baby, the one-year mark is a typical time to transition to milk. But what kind?! Breast milk, cow’s milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk. The list goes on and on. Most people choose whole cow’s milk. I’m not into cow’s milk. More than that, my son is allergic to milk and soy, so it’s not an option, regardless of my opinion.
Next, people tend to turn to almond milk. Maybe rice. Maybe hemp. Each one has its downfall, so I chose not to choose just one kind of milk. I like almond milk for the flavor. Hemp milk for the protein. Coconut milk for the fat. I started by making my son’s milk. Every evening I’d put a bowl of almonds and water on the counter to soak overnight, and in the morning I’d blend it up into milk. Over the past year I’ve gotten lazy. It’s easy to grab a carton of almond milk from the store and have it on hand whenever needed. But now that my son is drinking milk like a fiend, I’m brought back to that questioning and wondering. I only give him almond milk, so am I depriving him of nutrients he needs? Is this why he’s constantly hungry and asking for snacks yet still overweight? Or does he just snack because he likes to crunch on things? Is he too full of milk to eat the vegetables he’d chow down on as a 6-month-old but now won’t even touch? The questions could drive you crazy.
If I had a crystal ball and could see into the future or had a magic x-ray machine that would let me know exactly what’s going on inside of his little digestive system, maybe I’d have answers. But until that magic technology is created, I have to rely on a mom’s greatest skill: my gut. As moms we have to accept there’s not an answer to every question. There’s not always a right way and a wrong way. There’s no use in worrying or stressing or constantly questioning. The only result that will bring is a big fat ulcer or lack of sleep or stress-induced headaches. I’d prefer to give myself a mental break and leave the stress of decision-making to the real problems we may encounter.