Meet Charley Marie, my precious little firecracker. She was born three weeks early and spent two weeks in the NICU. While she was there, multiple nurses laughed and warned us that she already showed a strong will, screaming loudly whenever she wanted or needed something. We took her home and the screaming didn’t stop for four months. Every time she nursed, she screamed in pain after, twisting up her torso and pulling her knees in. No matter what I ate to try and make my breast milk easier for her to digest, she reacted that way.
We switched to formula, but got the same result. After about three and a half months of almost non stop screaming and only sleeping in twenty minute increments, we took her to a specialist. He recommended a specific formula for colicky babies that is much easier for them to digest because the proteins are broken down for them. We tried it, and it worked! The screaming lessened and she began to sleep for longer periods of time.
But then came time to introduce solid foods. As a first time mom, I was so excited. I shouldn’t have been…she refused EVERYTHING. People say their child is picky, but really they mean that their child just doesn’t like broccoli or spinach, but will eat more common kid friendly food. My Charley was simply not interested in any food at all. We put everything in front of her and she wouldn’t take any of it. I was so disappointed! I had spent weeks making homemade organic purees and freezing them in anticipation, but she wouldn’t touch them. I researched all kinds of ways to get picky babies interested in food and tried all the methods, but nothing worked. She had the strongest will of any baby I had ever seen. Well meaning friends suggested starving her of milk or formula so that she would eventually eat when hungry enough, but it didn’t work for her. Eventually we gave up, and decided to not force her to eat anything. She drank only formula until she was one, and then when she turned one she switched to milk with small amounts of highly processed, packaged food-the kind you find in the baby aisle at Walmart with the ingredient list so long they can barely fit it on the packaging. It seemed to be the only thing we could get her to swallow. I had given up at this point and was desperate for her to eat, no matter what it was.
It got worse from there on. As we got more desperate to fill her stomach, we offered her more packaged garbage and she developed a like for it. This bothered me so much and I was so concerned for her health, but felt helpless. I have always been interested in nutrition and so I knew the stuff she was eating was terrible for her and contributing to her poor sleeping habits, mood swings, temper tantrums, attention span, and energy levels. I kept telling myself that we would deal with the battle of her eating habits when she was older and could understand.
Now, that time has come. She’s older. She turned three this past March (2014), and she can understand the general idea that healthy food equals a happier, more energetic, and well balanced life. She’s beautiful and feisty and intelligent and SO STRONG WILLED. We are gearing up for a slow but full time battle. Our goal is no packaged foods by age five. At home, she will have only whole, unprocessed foods. I don’t want her to miss out on some of the wonderful parts of childhood; ice cream on hot days, treats at her grandparents house, or cake at birthday parties. We won’t restrict things like that which are outside of the home. But her food in our house will be real.
I’ve got about a year and a half to change her life. Follow our journey here on my blog and feel free to leave comments with suggestions and ideas. I would love to hear what you think!