Healthy-Feeding and Older Children, Knowing When to Draw the Line

It’s time to cut her off.

Sure she’s still young and growing and absolutely adorable but we have to end it.  As it is we’ve gone way past socially accepted norms.  I’ve avoided doing it in public for a while now, just couldn’t handle the strange looks we’d receive and people were getting increasingly rude with their comments.  And now that she’s 8 I can’t pretend any longer that she really needs it anyway, it’s just for comfort now and like my mom said, I can’t let her go on thinking she can just take advantage of me, use me like that forever.  I can’t even imagine what my mom would say if I told her what happened last night…

Brace yourself… Lolie actually asked for it. (I’m totally blushing here, don’t judge me!)  She knew what she wanted and she asked for it.  That would really freak some people out!  You know how many times I’ve heard “they are really too old when they can ASK for it!  That’s just so disgusting!”

We were preparing for her birthday, asking her what meals she wanted and she said… (my stomach’s in knots just thinking this!) taco salad!  Homemade taco salad for lunch.  And a veggie and fruit tray.  Spinach and mushroom crepes for dinner.  Homemade cake.  I tried to dissuade her, offered Papa John’s Pizza, Taco Bell anything, McDonald’s, Chili’s, and more but she refused!  All she wants for her birthday is healthy, homemade growing food.  Carrots!

I can hear it now: “she asked for spinach and mushrooms for her birthday dinner?!  Oh. My. Gosh.  Someone get this kid a Happy Meal with extra large fries and supersized Coke STAT!”

I’m pretty sure healthy-feeding her for this long has ruined her.  She’s probably developmentally behind her peers, physically malnourished, emotionally stunted and over-attached to me now.  What was I thinking?  I guess I wasn’t really, it just sort of happened.  The recommendation was to healthy-feed until 6 years old, school age but it just felt so right, so natural that I continued.  I mean, if it was so good for her brain development, bone growth and all that then why would it suddenly stop?  We have our own term for it: growing food.  We were both happy, it worked for us and she seemed to be thriving and even though she was past the minimum age recommended to healthy food-feed, she still seemed so young to me.  So I let it keep going.

But now she’s gone and asked for it?!  That’s clearly not normal, maybe even perverted.  What 7, almost 8 year old child actually turns down pizza in favor of a salad?  Rejects a Happy Meal and prefers spinach and mushroom crepes?  Turns up her nose at a brilliantly colored store bought ice cream cake and specifically requests a homemade cake from scratch?  Or begs for homemade whole wheat bread and doesn’t even know what Wonder Bread is?

I’ve ruined my Lolie!

There comes a point when you just have to stop healthy-feeding a child.  If it’s come from the ground or is fresh, made from scratch and void of branded packaging it can’t be good for the child to continue past 6, certainly not past 8.  Going to 10 would be positively revolting, people everywhere would lose their Taco Bell taco meat product tacos at the thought.  If you don’t stop it how will the child eat in the future?  How do you know EXACTLY what they are eating without a package label?  How will they learn how to feed themselves?  How will they recognize the brands of sustenance?

My friends will be freaked out that she asked for it, that she doesn’t even want junk food.  Some of them had a hard enough time that I even did this at all (after all, they only ate prepackaged and fast foods and they are fine) but this will really be too much.  Once they can open the refrigerator and get their own carrot you’ve got to stop it, right?  I mean, what in the world would happen if kids everywhere thought eating carrots and food that came out of the ground and not out of a box or package was NORMAL?!  Our very economy would be in danger!  It’s not like we don’t have access to other foods, it’s not like we’re uncivilized, right?  It would damage their perspective of the human body and food.  Years and years of therapy would be required for all these confused kids that would think it’s actually good to eat this way.  No, for her mental health and our socio-economic standing I just can’t allow this to continue!  I wonder if our friends will even let their kids play with her any more.  If word of this gets out it could ruin her socially.  It probably will destroy her chances of getting the lead in the spring play… she’ll get kicked out of the ballet studio… summer camps will reject her… no hope of getting a date for prom… Harvard will totally laugh at her… she’ll never find a job… she’ll be living at home eating like this and completely dependent on me forever!

It’s her birthday and I have to cut her off, she’s simply too old.  It will break her heart and I know she won’t understand but how can I let her continue?  I’m so sad just thinking of it but we have to be done, that’s just all there is to it.  Today was the last time, no more.

*sob*

I will tell her tonight as she nurses to sleep.  At least she will still have that, so glad there’s no taboo surrounding breastfeeding.  How sad would that be?

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From the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child.”

It is my hope that mothers continue breastfeeding as long as it is right for them and their child.  The decision to stop should be an informed one, using research and individual considerations of physical and emotional health to determine the best choice for each mother and her nursling.  Whether that is 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years.  Pressure to stop at some arbitrary date and claims that breastmilk has no nutritional value after a certain age are uninformed and potentially damaging. Instead of telling women what they need to do we need to support them in making informed decisions.  You can find more information on the value of breastfeeding beyond the first year at Kellymom.com.  I believe every woman should have support without pressure or condemnation no matter how long she breastfeeds.

By the way, I’m thrilled my daughter requests homemade food full of veggies and whole grain goodness for her birthday and I won’t be cutting her off from that nutrition for any reason.  Not even if it isn’t normal for a child her age to turn down fast-food style pizza and other nutritionally similar options in favor of whole foods.  Also, in the interest of honest representation, she hasn’t breastfed in quite some time.