This is the second post in my series on the OBC Guiding Principles, focusing on principle one, trust your instincts.
Trusting your instincts is such a simple concept, but one that many parents struggle with. We spend so much of our lives looking to external experts, sources, and recommendations to make decisions. Many of us have lost touch with our instincts and how to follow our gut. It’s easy to rationalize and reason away the little voice in our heads telling us something, particularly when an authority figure is telling us something different. Learning to listen to our instincts can be a very important tool, especially when it comes to parenting. After-all, we (the parent) are the expert on our own baby.
Research and science are important tools, but they shouldn’t completely shut down our instincts. One of the things I strive for in my own parenting as well as in my teaching, is to emphasize that both research and intuition have an important role in parenting. If you haven’t had your baby yet, pregnancy is a great time to start listening to your intuition. It can tell you a lot about your body and your baby.
An example from my own parenting experience with my son has to do with introducing solid foods. We introduced solids at about 6 ½ months. Since breastfeeding had gone pretty smoothly for us, I naively figured that solid foods would go similarly. My son was not interested. I wasn’t worried at the time. He continued to not be interested beyond a bite here or there. This dragged on for several months.
I began to get lots of advice from various people on how to encourage him to eat more, but most of it didn’t feel right to me. However, I began to worry that maybe we were doing something seriously wrong. Everyone else’s babies seemed to be gobbling down huge portions compared to my son. He was healthy and thriving though, and our pediatrician wasn’t concerned or pushy about his minimal solid consumption. We just kept offering and trying to be patient.
When he was 9 months old, I brought up his solid food disinterest at a La Leche League meeting, and I was immediately reassured that this was yet another variation of normal, given that he didn’t have any signs of underlying health or sensory issues. And surprisingly, right around then his interest increased just enough to give me hope. It took him until 13 months to be really interested in food, and he was still a light eater for a long time. Slowly he has evolved in to the typical 3 year old, with the typical 3 year old eating fickleness J
But over the months of sometimes asked for, sometimes not asked for, advice, listening to my intuition that said give him time and space was challenging. I needed to trust myself, but also to trust my son. There are definitely things about how we introduced solids to my son that I will likely do differently with our second, and what affect if any these had on his slow warm up to solids I don’t know, but I’m glad I gave him the space to do it on his own time. He is a kid that definitely likes to do things in his own way and at his own time in other areas so it makes sense that eating would be the same.