There is so much to learn about feeding a tiny human. Throughout the first year, there’s breastfeeding, pumping, formula, transition to whole milk, solid foods, weaning off the bottle… every time I got the hang of one thing, it was time to do something new.
When I was pregnant, I read a lot about breastfeeding. I even paid for an online course about it. But goodness none of that prepared me for how difficult it is. I was impressed by the way Jaclyn naturally wiggled her way from my chest down to my breast shortly after giving birth. But beyond that, nothing about breastfeeding came natural for us.
Our troubles with breastfeeding actually kept us in the hospital longer than planned. Her incorrect latch made me bleed and hurt; she wanted to feed constantly because she wasn’t full. She wasn’t getting enough milk and before we realized it, she wasn’t having enough output. The nurses said she needed formula supplements, which made me feel like an absolute failure. How did I not know she wasn’t getting enough milk? How were we already switching to formula when I hadn’t given breastfeeding a fair shot? I laid there, crying and apologizing to Jaclyn for failing her already but I ultimately knew she needed to eat.
Within the first week of her life, we worked with five different lactation consultants. By the end of each attempted feed, Jaclyn and I were both crying and frustrated. So I decided to breastfeed via exclusively pumping, not nursing. I spent 2-3 hours each day pumping, storing, washing, and organizing my pumping supplies. I needed to pump every 2-4 hours for 20 minutes each time. I was an over supplier and after three months, I had almost 2,500 ounces of frozen breast milk in the deep freeze.
Exclusive pumping is quite the time commitment, so I tried several ways of organizing all the milk. The pitcher method was by far the easiest. You just pour all your overage milk in a pitcher for the day and then pour it into freezer bags. Unfortunately, the mixed levels of fore milk and hind milk in these batches made Jaclyn sick… so they got thrown out. That still makes me want to cry a little. Though it seems wasteful with the breastmilk freezer bags, I found it best to use what I need and freeze the rest individually. Sometimes that was 1.5 oz. and sometimes that was 6 oz. When I thawed the milk to give Jaclyn, I would supplement whatever I thawed with formula. I ended up pumping for 3 months and was able to bottle feed Jaclyn breastmilk for her first 7 months.
At about the 6 month mark, we began Baby Led Weaning. It’s the latest trend, so I had already decided we would do it before I fully understood what it was. When I realized we’d be feeding Jaclyn solid foods at 6 months old, I panicked. But goodness, we’re SO glad we did! By the time Jaclyn turned 1, she was eating nearly everything we were and drinking out of an open cup.
Solid Starts and Feeding Littles are great resources in this eating journey. So much of the beginning weeks are simply good and texture exposure, lots of funny, grossed out faces, and adorable tiny eating utensils such as this tiny cup and these GOOtensils. We also love these bibs; we call them her treasure trove. We tried these full body aprons but we’d rather just feed her in her diaper than cover her up like this.
Jaclyn has become such a good eater. The only two foods she wasn’t a fan of is oatmeal and applesauce, but she eats both now after more offerings and exposure. She had a healthy, sugar free smash cake at her first birthday, and she just sat there and ate it like a big girl because she knows how to eat.
Now, at 14 months old, she has breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. We love these suction plates and she does really well with these cups. Her favorite foods right now are any kind of bean, peanut butter, all fruit but especially strawberries, and cheese.
Our final greatest feat has been the bottle. The pediatrician said to have her weaned off the bottle by 14 months, and we barely made it! Jaclyn does great drinking water from an open cup, but she would refuse her milk in anything but a bottle. See the struggle in the photo and video below.
Our saving grace was another Mommy blog who suggested watering down the milk so it was mostly water and then slowly adjusting the ratios until it was fully milk. It worked! Within days, Jaclyn was drinking her milk from an open cup, but we still needed the bottle to start and end the day. Finally after enough exposure, Jaclyn fully transitioned to drinking milk out of this sippy cup.
I put a lot of pressure on myself through the journey of feeding my tiny human. That Mom Guilt comes in hard and often. But I have a wonderful team alongside me. My husband, Seth, is always right there with me, learning how to best feed our little Jaclyn. My mom is incredible and follows whatever routine we set up as she watches her each day.
Our feeding journey has been quite messy and oh so rewarding.