The Pump, The Scale And Other Interferences To Nursing
October 17, 2016 · Posted in Breastfeeding, Feeding, Infant Development · Permalink · Comments (6)

pexels-photo-235243Recently I had the chance to see first hand how easily a new mother and her breastfeeding can be undermined. A dear friend’s younger sister Sarah had her first baby two weeks ago. Four days after the birth I received a frantic call from my friend in Connecticut. I arrived to find an exquisite and healthy little girl and a broken down distraught new mother.

“I called the lactation consultant and she was here yesterday with her her scale. She watched Eliza eat and said she wasn’t an ‘efficient sucker’. She told me to feed her for 5 minutes on one side and then she weighed her. She said she wasn’t getting enough and that I had to increase my milk production. I am supposed to feed her until she falls asleep – then wake her and supplement with formula and then pump as much as I can.” Tears streaming down her face she sobbed, “Look at my nipples, they are shredded.”

I hate this story and unfortunately we are hearing ones like it more and more over the past few years. Breast feeding is the process of a mother and her baby’s bodies, newly separated at birth, learning to get back in sync in a new way. It is a process that takes time, patience and faith. Ideally new mothers will be supported by veteran breast feeders who, rather than focusing on milk production and weight gain, will help them tolerate and accept the often painful and slow process.

“We are going to forget about everything you’ve heard so far and start from scratch, so get those boobs out and let’s start,” I said.

For the next four hours I had the pleasure of tending to Sarah, bringing her warm compresses and lots of water as we dished over family gossip and carefully watched Eliza. I taught Sarah the critical importance of recognizing signs of hunger and of fullness. As simple as this sounds it is the key ingredient in the healthy feeding of your child. During this time she had two feedings with 3 hours of sleep and big blue-eyed wakeful periods in between. Sarah was amazed that her baby was full after only ten minutes of nursing and really did not need to eat for another three hours. Yes, she needed attention: rocking, swaddling, pacifier and even to be left alone and to sleep. Turns out Eliza is a very efficient sucker. What her mother needed was reassurance that the two of them together had everything they needed. We banished the pump and the scale. I taught Sarah to not read every squeak and squirm as a sign of hunger. Two weeks later mother and baby are thriving and Sarah owes me big time – just kidding.

In our fast-paced, product-oriented society, nursing a baby has become yet another human process that is driven by perfectionistic anxiety. Because so many new mothers are alone and isolated from other women, the practice of calling on professionals to help has become the norm. Unfortunately, it is hit or miss as to whether the consultant supports or intrudes and so derails the unfolding process with it’s inevitable pain and the leap of faith it takes to trust your body. (We know how easy that is for women!)

This article first appeared in A Child Grows in Brooklyn

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Two Years, 2 Bites-Three Years, 3 Bites
May 18, 2015 · Posted in Feeding, Parenting, Preschoolers, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Two Years, 2 Bites-Three Years, 3 Bites

Toddler and preschool eating can be a source of stress for parents. Babyhood, when parents can often scoop endless spoonfuls into eagerly awaiting mouths, is over. Variety narrows, amounts lessen. This change can be startling and unsettling. Feeding becomes a less gratifying experience for the parent. This nutrition and weight conscious generation can often spend lots of time fretting and battling with their children at mealtimes. Two years, 2 bites-three years, 3 bites is a short but powerful mantra to calm even the most worried parent. Kids need to eat less in the second and third years of life for the healthy growth of their bodies. Nothing is wrong with a toddler who eats less than when he was an infant. So no need to force, chase, or zoom food into their mouths. Two bites is just fine.

The range of food also usually narrows after infancy for a period of time during childhood. Evolutionarily speaking, a little toddling person, who is now away from the watchful eye of their parent, is safer when they eat things they recognize. No poison plants for me! I’ll just stick with what I know. So when your baby goes from the consummate gourmet to a rotation of ten foods, this is normal development – not a reason to worry. Over time, most kids get curious and adventurous again. Three bites of the same old, same old is just fine. Since variety and amount lessen after age one, the best thing you can do is provide healthy food at the times you want them to have meals and leave the amounts to them. Soothe the worried part of yourself by repeating “Two years, 2 bites, Three years, 3 bites!” That’s all they really need.

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Infant Feeding: Follow Their Lead and Find Their Schedule
December 7, 2010 · Posted in Feeding, Infant Development · Permalink · Comments Off on Infant Feeding: Follow Their Lead and Find Their Schedule

Here is an excerpt about feeding your baby in the first three months from our book A Mother’s Circle. Enjoy!

“My mother says ‘Put her on a schedule!’ my lactation consultant says it’s critical that I feed her on demand, I am totally confused and it’s making me crazy.”

A new mom is not supposed to know exactly when and how to feed her baby. She and her baby are going to learn this together and  their rhythm, pattern and schedule will evolve over time.

The following three examples  illustrate how different babies can be in their daily rhythms. We encourage mothers to adopt a flexible approach to feeding during the first three months and to freely respond to their babies’ cries of hunger. Most babies can tolerate hunger only in small doses before they cry out. To make an infant wait until the clock says it’s time to eat can be overwhelming and disorganizing for her. Gradually your baby will eat larger amounts less frequently. A baby’s early random schedule will naturally develop into a more predictable pattern.

Babies vary in their feeding schedules. To underscore this point, the following are feeding schedules for two different babies–both born at full term, are breastfeeding, weigh within a few ounces of each other, and are less than two weeks apart in age. Their feeding schedules, however, are very different.

Eliza is eight-and–a-half-weeks-old. She wakes for her first nursing sometime around 6:00 A.M. Generally she nurses again at 8:00 A.M. before napping in the morning, after her nap at 10:00 A.M., and then again at 11:30 A.M. Most days she will nurse every two hours until bedtime at 10:30 P.M. She usually wakes sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 A.M. for her middle-of-the-night feeding.

Georgia is ten-and-half-weeks-old. For over a month now, she has been waking up in the morning around 7:00 A.M., nursing, playing  and then taking her morning nap. Usually she wakes to feed again at around 11:00A.M. Then she doesn’t need to eat again until the afternoon, approximately 3:00 P.M. She nurses again at 7:00 P.M. and twice during the night, at  11:00 P.M., and 3 A.M.

Some babies are much less regulated, and more difficult to predict and  soothe. Another baby, 7 week old Taylor, for example, has a different pattern every day.  Here’s one day last week. Taylor wakes at 6:00 A.M. and nurses for thirty minutes. She is then alert and responsive for fifteen minutes before she begins to seem uncomfortable, even though she is full and has been burped. She dozes on and off until 7:30 A.M. when she cries again and is not soothed by the pacifier or being held and rocked. Her mother feeds her again. This cycle continues throughout the day, feeding about every one and a half hours, with one two-hour nap while being strolled. Every time the stroller stops Taylor starts. While she will go down to sleep at 8:15 P.M. and have her longest stretch until 11:30 P.M., the rest of the night is marked by frequent wakings, feedings, and fussiness. It is no wonder her parents feel overwhelmed.

Here are some suggestions if your baby sounds like Taylor. One is more time on the belly. Pressure on the belly from a mattress or a pad on the floor can help to stabilize a tender or raw gastrointestinal system. Because babies spend much more time on their backs since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended back sleeping, babies have been getting much less time on their tummies. Even if your baby is not overly fussy, it is important to remember to put your baby on her stomach for short supervised periods throughout the day.

Another suggestion is to offer water in a bottle in between feedings to give more time for the baby to fully digest between feedings. It is common with a chronically uncomfortable baby to get into the habit of very frequent feedings. In this vicious cycle the baby’s body doesn’t get enough time to process each feeding before gearing up to digest the next.

A third recommendation is to use the pacifier, the sling, the stroller, the swing, drives in the car, or whatever seems to prolong periods of sleep or calm. As your baby moves into the third and fourth month, the need for all this intervention will wane. Try not to worry that you are setting up bad habits.

As you can see from these examples there is no “textbook” baby. Anytime you hear people give a recipe for feeding that applies to all babies, take it with a grain of salt. Get to know your own baby, follow their sometimes unpredictable lead,  and  trust that in a few short months an organic pattern will emerge that you can then use to set a schedule that is right for your baby.

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Today’s Culture, Your Eating History And Your Baby
June 29, 2010 · Posted in Breastfeeding, Feeding, Infant Development · Permalink · Comments Off on Today’s Culture, Your Eating History And Your Baby


Food- we can’t live with it and we can’t live without it. This age old lament is sadly how many women experience their relationship to eating, weight and food. Food can be one of our greatest pleasures as well as our most oppressive jail. Once we become mothers we are highly influential in helping form our child’s relationship to eating. This excerpt from A Mother’s Circle takes a closer look at the topic of food and motherhood and all that it encompasses:

Food plays a powerful, elemental role in our lives. It is, and always will be, associated with deeply cherished rituals and celebrations. Tastes and aromas can unlock childhood memories. Meals and eating give a rhythm to the days and mark the passage of seasons and holidays. Feelings about food, eating, and mealtimes from your own childhood will affect your response to feeding your baby.

In addition to one’s own personal history about food, present day attitudes also affect the feeding of your baby. Our culture presents dual, incompatible fantasies: first, a “perfect” (thin) body equals happiness, and second, that fast food is all-American fare. Unavoidable images of model-sleek women pull the rug out from the average female’s respect for her own body and distort her natural appetite. For many teenage girls and women, diet soda and self-denial are a way of life and anorexia is the challenge that symbolizes this. For others, over-indulgence is a different form of obsession. Meanwhile, junk food, fast food and caffeine-laced soft drinks are staples of our national diet. Obesity has become a primary health concern across the country: sixty percent of Americans are overweight.

So even if you have not personally struggled with an eating disorder, it is impossible not to be affected by the cultural norms and expectations about weight and diet. As a mother embarking on the process of teaching another human being about food, it can be helpful and important to look at your own feelings about food, weight and body image.
Many mothers recall tremendous pressure to be thin or conversely, to finish all the food on their plate. By examining your own family of origins’ attitudes about weight and eating you can become aware of unconscious worry that may be provoked by feeding your baby. Many new mothers worry about under- or overfeeding their babies. Monthly visits to the pediatrician that confirm an average and steady weight gain do little to help. Sometimes this worry is set off when a mother and baby have a difficult time getting started with breastfeeding or when, for example, a baby has been extremely fussy and seems to find relief only when she is eating. If a mother’s preoccupations linger despite the fact that her baby is thriving, her own history may offer an explanation.

Many mothers confide that though they never had a weight problem themselves, a siblings’ struggle with food or weight has affected them. These feelings can get tangled up in the feeding process with your new baby and take away from the pleasure of nourishing your infant.
It is no wonder, given all these influences, that some mothers do not trust their babies’ appetites either. But they can. A healthy baby will naturally eat the amount she or he needs. Mothers offer a great gift to their children by giving them a sense of control over the eating process, as well as a natural, unencumbered appreciation for food.

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Snack Attack
January 26, 2010 · Posted in Discipline, Feeding, K-5 Kids, Preschoolers, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Snack Attack


Kids snacking and having “treats” throughout the day has exploded in the last decade. The article  Snack Time Never Ends in the The New York Times, January 20, 2010 presents data that, “between 1977 and 2002, the percent of the American population eating three or more snacks a day increased to 42 percent from 11 percent.”

From 2002 to 2008, one needs only to look around the playground to know that the trend has increased. Food is ubiquitous and adults and children are presented with constant eating opportunities. Add in the generational fear and antipathy to saying no to one’s children and you’ve got haggling and caving going on all day long!

Ellyn Slatter, dietitian and family therapist, is quoted in the article, “The parents’ job is to do the what, when and where of feeding,” she said, “and it is up to the children to do the how much and whether of eating. In order to have successful family meals, you have to structure the snacks.” Her book, Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, has long been one of Soho Parenting’s favorites.

Here are a few tips to curb snacking and unhealthy eating:

  • Snacks should be given at “Snack Time”: A scheduled time and place and not on the run. As Slatter wisely says “End grazing.”
  • A good snack is anything you would be happy to see on a child’s plate at a meal. Goldfish on the dinner plate? Fruit Roll up for breakfast? No?
  • No more than 2 snacks a day.
  • A snack and a treat are two different things. Treats are desserts, snacks are tiny meals.
  • Keep “treats” treats by offering them less often.
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Take Action! Demand Healthy Food For Our Children
January 19, 2010 · Posted in Feeding, Social Action, The Environment · Permalink · Comments (1)

clip_image006Moms focuses on tackling issues that mean most to parents. Here is their latest email blast that makes your voice heard in one click. Please join Soho Parenting in supporting legislation to help our children to have access to healthy food!

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a study on hunger in America. The study highlighted a staggering statistic: 1 in 4 children in our nation are now on the brink of hunger. That’s the highest number since the USDA started keeping track.

Thankfully, legislation was recently introduced to help address this crisis.  The Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act would ensure that millions more children across our country have access to healthy foods. How this bill will help: The Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act will strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) by adding meal or snack options for children who need them, helping cover the cost of more meals for children who are in care for longer hours, and making more child care providers eligible for assistance.

Sadly, passage of this bill isn’t a slam-dunk.  We’ve got to redouble our efforts to end child hunger in America.  Thanks to your 18,000 letters, the U.S. Senate is actively considering this bill, and now the House is poised to consider it as well.  But this fight is just beginning. 1 in 4 children in our nation on the brink of hunger is an emergency. Tell your Representative to support the Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act today.

Follow this link to and urge your Representative to make sure children have access to healthy foods as soon as possible:

Please take another moment to forward this post to your friends and family.  Everyone should have a chance to weigh in urging their Representative to support this crucial bill.  Together, we can help children across our country have a healthy start.


Soho Parenting

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Weight and See
November 10, 2009 · Posted in Adult Children, Feeding, K-5 Kids, Media, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink · Comments (3)

Pair of big heavy dumbbells over white backgroundBody image, weight, eating habits and health is now a thoroughly unavoidable minefield for ourselves and our children.  The culture is now poly-partially-nonhydrogenatedly saturated in intensity about our bodies. Perfectly healthy girls and boys as young as four worry about being fat while a vast number of people in our country overeat to the point of morbid obesity.  There is pressure for women to be sexy and slim (except their ‘bump’) during pregnancy and a culture that orders in, dines out and watches Food Network 24/7. Oye!

It is all very confusing and daunting. If it were as easy as modeling good habits for our children many of us would fare well. But what about the inner negative thoughts that most women and many men have when we are even a few pounds overweight? Pretty hard to get rid of those. The bottom line is that this struggle between the love of food and the pressure to be thin is just a fact of life. The problems of our food system and the media influence are here to stay.

So what to do? One thing is to not buy into the fact that there are choices you can make to fully protect your children from weight issues or body image issues.  You can set a pretty good example and have a pretty decent balance between discipline and indulgence and still have children who struggle with weight or thoughts about weight. There is no one rule like “no junk in the house”, or “don’t prohibit or your kids will seek it elsewhere in spades” that ensures anything.  We need to admit that the forces are greater than any one rule or philosophy so we don’t carry all the responsibility on our shoulders.

Try to stay in the middle path is the best we can suggest. Model moderation, exercise and encourage physical activity. Have swimming, hiking, skiing or bike riding be family activities, not just activities that you sign your children up for–they imitate you more than anything. Have family meals. Teach your children about advertising early on — show them how billboards and commercials trick you into wanting more and more and subtly convince you that you are not good enough as you are.  Once kids understand how advertising works it provides a bit of protection against the media and gives a sense of empowerment.

Most of all try and accept the fluctuations in your child’s weight and work on accepting their body type as you work on accepting yours. This is very hard work for most people, no matter what they weigh, or how they eat, so know you are in good company.

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Introduction To Solids: Let the Oatmeal Shampoo Begin
October 15, 2009 · Posted in Feeding, Infant Development · Permalink · Comments (2)


Here is an excerpt from A Mother’s Circle on infant feeding. Bon Appetite!

Now that you have finally got the knack of breast or bottle feeding you and your baby are on to a whole new experience. Real food!

Solid foods can be introduced any time between four and six months. Initially, your baby’s eating experience is just that—an experience. She might swallow a little but most of her food will end up on her chin or bib. Once the baby gets used to the experience of eating from a spoon and has more familiarity with new tastes and textures she will generally turn her attention to actively eating.

Learning your Baby’s Signs of Hunger and Fullness
Hunger and fullness are still your guideposts when offering solids. As important as offering food when you think your baby is hungry is allowing her to tell you when she is finished. This may be after two tablespoons or a bowlful of cereal. Try not to cajole your baby into opening her mouth for one more bite because you want the bowl to be clean, even though it might feel good to you. Let your baby tell you when the meal is over. A baby has some very direct ways of saying this. One is to shut her mouth tightly. Another is to turn her head to the side. Another is to spit her food out. Although this seems pretty obvious, it is hard to know whether she is communicating “No more, thank you” or “I want to play for a minute.” One workable rule of thumb is to offer a spoonful twice after the first rejection. If your baby’s answer is “no” two more times, end the feeding.

Throughout a baby’s first year, eating solids and making a mess are synonymous. A baby will want to touch, squeeze, paint with and smear food everywhere. Her eyes remain completely innocent as she gives herself an oatmeal facial or a carrot shampoo. It may be easier to see the humor in this if you keep in mind that this will not last forever. Most mothers agree, however, that day in and day out, the mess a baby makes with food requires patience, tolerance and plenty of cleaning up.
There is no way to stop a baby from getting messy while learning to eat solid foods. One idea to cut down on the laundry is to let your baby enjoy the messiest meal in the evening, with just her diaper and T-shirt on. Then you can take your baby directly to the bath from the high chair. Remember, a primary goal is for your baby to get a sense that eating is fun—that mealtimes are interesting, positive, and enjoyable, and that she can explore a little bit and control a little bit. Your baby may want to eat and then baby talk and laugh with you, or rub her hands in the food. She is in the process of learning a whole new way of eating.

Appetite Changes
It is not imperative that your baby eats the same amount at every meal. Like adults, babies can be more or less hungry on different days. Don’t worry if there are days when your baby won’t eat much at all. All babies have appetite and growth spurts as well as lulls throughout this period.
Mothers often ask what time of day to introduce the first meal and how to space solid meals and liquid ones. Start the first feeding at a time when both you and your baby can relax into it the most. If you have to rush out to work in the morning, start with dinner, if the morning is your quietest time, start with breakfast. The “dining ambience” is more important than the time of day.
A typical eating schedule for a baby who has increased to three meals a day is outlined below. The milk feedings are breast or bottle feedings. You can offer a “sippy” cup with water along with meals in the high chair. Remember these are approximate times.
7:00 A.M.:    milk
8:00 A.M.:    solid breakfast
9:30 A.M.:    nap
11:00 A.M.:    milk
12:00 P.M.:    solid lunch
1:00 P.M.:    nap
4:00 P.M.:    milk
5:00 P.M.:    solid dinner
7:00 P.M.:    milk

As your baby grows, her desire for independence will increase but not uniformly in all areas of development. Her increase in autonomy regarding feeding may happen at six or seven months or not until the end or even beyond the first year. When it does happen, her opinions will become noticeably stronger and she will want to try to do things without your help. She may want to hold her spoon herself or she may want to scoop up her cereal with her hands. She may reject foods she had been eating with pleasure and show curiosity about new ones.
When your baby begins to show interest in feeding herself, you may not be able to tell the difference between eating and creative play. To allow for your baby’s independent efforts and also get her fed, try using two spoons—one for her to play with and one for you to feed her with. Encourage your baby to feed herself and to try new things but allow her to develop at her own rate. Some days she will feel less ambitious than others and will want you to feed her.
Some babies by nature are simply more finicky about food. This can be frustrating, but it is important to recognize and accept. If your baby wants only to eat four or five different foods and rejects all others, supply what she likes. Eating should not be an arena for confrontation. If you give her  the message that what she likes is alright with you, you will sidestep battles about food that might otherwise last for years. Continue to introduce and offer new foods and encourage new tastes, but don’t force the issue. Her tastes will broaden naturally with time.
People usually think of a balanced diet in terms of a single meal. With babies and young children eating habits are so erratic that this balance usually occurs only over the course of a week or even up to a month. If your baby only wants to eat applesauce and cereal for three days in a row, and then switches to carrots and Cheerios for two days and then will only eat yogurt and macaroni for the next two, any given day seems unbalanced. But judged as a whole, over a longer period of weeks, her intake has been fairly well balanced.

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Picking and Choosing: Mindful Eating for Kids and Families, Part 2
August 13, 2009 · Posted in Buddhism/Parenting, Feeding, Parenting, Preschoolers, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments (2)


Bethany Saltman lives with her family in the Catskills. She is a frequent contributor to magazines like Parents,  Body + Soul, Shambhala Sun, Mothering, Clean Food, Buddhadharma, and The Sun. You can read her column on being a Buddhist mom in the Hudson Valley magazine, Chronogram.

In last month’s column, I indulged my obsession with feeding my toddler by interviewing three experts on kids and/or food and/or mindfulness. I promised that I would consider what they said during the following month, and conduct a little anecdotal research, then report back. As a recap, these are my wonderfully willing experts:

Dr. Harvey Karp: Dr. Karp is the best-selling author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block. He is a professor of pediatrics of UCLA School of Medicine and travels extensively, talking (lovingly) about kids.

Nina Planck: Nina wrote the critically acclaimed Real Food: What to Eat and Why a couple years ago. Her most recent book is Real Food for Mother and Baby. Both are gems.

Konrad Ryushin Marchaj Osho (Ryushin Osho): Before moving into Zen Mountain Monastery in 1991 to become a monastic/priest/teacher, Ryushin Osho was a pediatrician and a psychiatrist.

I asked them all the same three questions, based on my own concerns, as well as what I hear from other parents. This is what I gleaned from their answers and how it all played out at our table.

What is the best way to raise a mindful eater—someone who appreciates food but is not obsessed with it?
Dr. Karp: “Each child is different, but many go through seriously picky eating stages. And others just aren’t that into food.”
Nina Planck: “Don’t be obsessive about wanting your kids to be mindful.”
Ryushin Osho: “Remember that food isn’t just food. It’s love, it’s attention and it’s play.”

I got the message pretty loud and clear on this one: Re-lax! Why I ever thought that being a robot—no-dessert-if-you-don’t-eat-your-meatball-just-try-it-okay-lick-it-good-job-you-did-it…repeat—would encourage a shred of mindfulness for any of us is beyond me. Poor Azalea, innocently enjoying a bit of space in that clear mind of hers and I am filling it with the kind of control-seeking anxiety I have been trying to let go of for years on my meditation cushion. What was I thinking?

So now I am more willing to let Azalea find her way through her meal, and if she wants to be excused before she has eaten what we consider a satisfactory meal (which varies depending on the day/menu, etc.), I will simply remind her (once, maybe twice) that the food on her plate is all that is being offered, so if she is hungry later, she won’t be having applesauce, dessert, or anything else. Unless, of course, we decide to throw the whole thing out the window and just bring on the ice cream. I don’t have any hard data on whether or not her eating has “improved,” but our time together sure has!

Indeed, it has been intriguing to consider the possibility that preparing food is not the only way to offer love at mealtimes. There’s also this thing called…um…let me look at my notes…I think it’s fun? I had heard of this before, but I was pretty skeptical. But then one night Azalea insisted she was finished receiving my love, I mean eating her salmon, and I recalled Ryushin Osho’s Polish grandfather doing the whole whale routine (see last month’s column). I felt ridiculous and not at all optimistic, but I gave it a shot: Look, it’s a whale going into the cave—fish on fork, aimed at her mouth, as if she were a…baby…or small child! Immediately, she opened up and ate. Okay. That totally worked. Just this morning, with her cream of rice cereal, she said: “Mommy! Pretend it’s a bunny hopping in!” Gulp.

In order to get a picky eater to try new food, is it okay to bribe kids—for example, “If you eat your broccoli, you can have ice cream”?
Dr. Karp: “Absolutely.”
Nina Planck: “I don’t think it’s fatal, but it seems sort of limited as a tactic.”                                                                                        Osho: “I think I would be cautious, but at the same time, what the hell do I know?”

Thanks, Dr. K.! Just last night we told Azalea that she could have dessert (apple juice; should I feel guilty about this?) after she tried her roasted red pepper. So she started with the lick, then we told her she had to take one bite and swallow it (recently she has developed the spit-out avoidance technique). So she did. “It’s good,” she announced. Then we all let it go. So it may take 50 more appearances for the red pepper to become part of her repertoire, but at least they’ve been introduced—Azzie and the pepper—and they’re even kind of friendly.

Should we serve picky eaters special foods at mealtimes?
Dr. Karp: “It’s not wrong to indulge your children as long as when you have to set a limit, they know they have to respect your limit.”
Nina Planck: “We don’t have a separate shopping list for [real] kids’ foods. In deciding what’s for supper, I treat my son’s considerations with equal weight to mine and my husband’s.
Ryushin Osho: “I never experienced that, so it would be difficult for me to imagine what that would feel like.”

This was the most thrilling part of my interviews. Ryushin Osho’s family never offered special meals, and he didn’t starve, so if I don’t want to, I don’t have to!

Nina Planck says that “kids’” food—cheddar bunnies and the like—are unnecessary (her genteel way of saying gross), but that doesn’t mean we don’t try to please our kids’ palates. We can all eat real, tasty food together.

And Dr. Karp spun the whole question in a very helpful direction. He basically gave me permission to be as indulgent or persnickety as I want when it comes to the dinner table, because it’s not the rules that matter as much as our ability to enforce those rules skillfully. When our family sits down to eat, of course, nutrition is vital, but so are our relationships that form around the food.

So what have I learned? I’d say that raising a mindful eater doesn’t mean that Azalea won’t always be picky or have strong preferences or even be that into food. She may never swoon over bright green olive oil the way her mother does. But by creating a loving, playful, nourishing environment, maybe she can be relaxed enough to truly taste it.  

This article first appeared online in Chronogram Magazine, May 27, 2009.

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Is it “The Case Against Breastfeeding” or a Case Against Dr. Sears?
May 28, 2009 · Posted in Breastfeeding, Feeding, Infant Development, Parenting · Permalink · Comments (6)

izs002157The Case Against Breast Feeding by Hanna Rosin appears in the April issue of The Atlantic. The title is sensationalistic. The content of the article addresses inconsistent findings in medical literature about the superiority of breast feeding, the snobbery of the 21st century perfectionistic supermom, and the possibility that the pressure to nurse is a new form of prison for women.  All  interesting.  In our previous post on breast feeding we addressed some of these same issues. Judith Warner, of the New York Times reacts to this article with admiration and the anticipation of reprisal. While she applauds Rosin’s challenge to present day pressure on women to exclusively breast feeding, she fears the backlash. “I am sure that … the Dr. William Sears-inspired attachment parenting crowd will soon assail her in the blogosphere.”

We are struck that both Rosin and Warner still look to Dr. Sears and his disciples for affirmation.  We were hoping we were about done with Dr. Sears and “attachment parenting”.  I can’t count  the number of mothers who have come to Soho Parenting with Post Sears Traumatic Disorder. Here are the symptoms: debilitating guilt, exhaustion, crying outbursts, marital conflict and a baby who cannot sit or play independently for more than two minutes. Of course, that could describe any new mother, but the followers of Sears have a special brand of this overwhelmed state.  They have drunk the Sears Kool-Aid that 24/7 nursing, holding, “bonding” with your baby is the only way to secure the mother baby attachment. They come for guidance when their babies are 6, 9, 12 months, feeling like complete failures. They just can’t manage what Martha Sears has purportedly done with her 11 children.

The detox program we offer is simple. Feed your baby during the day when she should be eating. Have them sleep from a nice early bedtime until morning.  Honor your babies need for comfort, connection and love as well as for solitude and their capacity to use and develop their own resources.

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