I think many breastfeeding moms feel a tinge of sadness when their babies are about to start eating solid food. I felt this with my first baby, though it felt like a bit of a secret — I thought I was pretty strange for crying the night before offering him solids. And I feel it now, as I imagine offering this baby his first bite of food.
For nine months, he grew inside me. I gave him flesh, bones, organs, blood. And for six more months, all of his nutrition has continued to come from my body.
Those thunder thighs!
Those big round appley cheeks!
Oh, he meets all the criteria for solid food readiness. He can most certainly sit up on his own, he can reach and grasp for food, he has lost his tongue thrust reflex.
His interest in our food has grown as we’ve given him a seat at the dinner table.
Of course, I know from experience that wanting to grasp for food doesn’t necessarily mean that a baby wants to eat the food. My first son was even more determined to eat our food than this little guy is, but it took him many months to actually like the way it tasted. Here he is after tasting his first bite of food!
I also know that eating food most certainly does not mean the end of breastfeeding is near. When I was shopping online for baby spoons for my little guy, I was a little irked by some of the names of these spoons. A weaning spoon? Really? While it’s true that eating solid foods is one of the steps toward weaning, breastmilk should still be the baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year of life, and for those babies who continue to nurse into the second year, breastmilk is still a substantial part of their diet. (Did you know that babies who nurse past a year do not need to be supplemented with cow’s milk? Breastfeeding 2-3 times per day fulfills their “dairy” requirement.)
If this baby is anything like my first, I will be nursing him for several more years and his weaning will be so gradual that both of us will be ready when it happens. I know that. I trust that. But still. I’m sure another tear will be shed for this transition. Oh dear. Life is just so full of the bittersweet.