I'm a research junkie, I know, and so when an issue comes up in parenting, my first thought is to look at it extensively until I come to a decision that leaves me full of peace. There were some things (like vaccinations) that I didn't tackle with my first child because I was too overwhelmed or issues that I didn't even realize I needed to research (like car seats), but now that we are on our third it should be easier, right? I mean, surely we have gone over most of the biggies, right? Well, I feel comfortable on most issues--breastfeeding vs formula, sleep training vs cosleeping, vaccinating vs non-vax, intact vs circumcision, spanking/timeouts vs. gentle discipline, and so on. While I try to stay current on all of those topics, I've studied enough to feel at least reasonably informed about both sides.
So what parenting issue is causing me sleepless nights of vacillation (well, not quite--I value sleep enough that few things are allowed to disturb it)? When to introduce solids. Yeah, really. I know that styles have changed since the days when newborns were getting cereal in their bottles and started on mushy jarred goop before they could even roll over. Every reputable source now recommends a virgin gut for the first six months, particularly in atopic families. However, after that, the advice begins to radically diverge.
Elena's doctor suggests that she wait until she is a year old. There are several digestive enzymes that apparently aren't even present in the baby's gut until about that time. This makes sense to me. I know that nutritionally, breastmilk has all they need for at least a year, and likely beyond. Additionally, I am admittedly paranoid about food allergies, and although the studies are inconclusive there, anecdotal evidence from friends and our own experience with FAs shows that often the first foods that the baby is introduced to are the ones to which the baby develops an allergy. Joel had no solids until 9 months, but the ones he began with (black beans, corn) are among his current allergies. Ariana is allergic to green beans, among other things...
On the other hand, our culture is relentless when it comes to wanting to feed babies solids. Any meal where others are present, I hear comments about how much Elena must want some food. Logically, I know that she isn't going hungry, and her interest is probably built on the idea that if we keep putting it into our mouths, maybe it is a really cool chew-toy. It is still hard to resist (and this is coming from someone who has had plenty of practice in going against mainstream parenting trends!). Sigh. Aside from peer pressure, there are people who caution that the child will likely develop sensory/texture/aversion issues if we wait to introduce food. That concerns me far more than public opinion. I think that I need to focus my research there, perhaps.
At least I know that Elena is thriving on my milk, and her nutritional needs are covered there for many months to come.