The subject of Montessori weaning is pretty hotly debated. In its true form, Montessori weaning begins at 2-3 months with the introduction of fresh juices and continues on with the introduction of solids at 4 months. My first thoughts on the matter were that that is way too early, and the whole juice thing doesn’t really fly with me, but lately I've been changing my tune a bit.
At our four month well visit, without any prompting from me, our pediatrician told us that the AAP changed its recommendations about when to start solids and what to feed baby when you do start solids. They've changed things from waiting on solids until 6 months and common allergenic foods even longer, to introducing solids at 4 months being okay and there are now no limitations on allergenic foods. I knew we didn't want to do any rice cereal with Juniper, so I kind of thought we had to wait until six months when we could start with purees, but this got me thinking. Hmmmm.
There is so much debate about Montessori weaning, and on the introduction of solids in general, because of the whole ‘virgin gut’ idea. Basically, the lining of a baby’s gut is permeable to allow the antibodies present in breastmilk through to the baby’s bloodstream. It’s a perfect system except that the permeable gut also allows potential allergens through to the baby’s bloodstream, making it possible, in theory for food sensitivity to occur. There is also a lot of talk about how it is natural to nurse an infant for two or three years, and how we introduce solid food too early now. But.
But, my baby is showing an increased interest in food now. I know some people say that babies are interested in everything that you are doing and want to do it too, but I don’t feel that is what is going on with Juniper. When she sits at meals with us, she tracks my spoon or fork from my bowl, to my mouth, and back again. She has even opened her mouth a few times. The girl wants to eat. I’ve been hiding behind the virgin gut theory and saying that I will wait until at least six months to offer solids. But, if I’d never read a study (like a primitive mama wouldn’t have) I probably would have offered her a bit of food already. So, I don’t know that I buy the whole babies weren’t intended to eat real food for a long time argument, because I'm pretty sure that if I wasn't over-educated on the topic Juniper would already be snacking on real food.
So what’s stopping me? Well, I guess that is a good question. My own emotions and needs are stopping me, and it is very un-Montessorian of me. What would be best for Juniper’s development, I think, would be to offer her some food. For mama, though, it’s not that simple. Being back at work has been really, really hard for me (like insanely hard, but that's another post for another day). It’s not really getting any easier either. Nursing is one thing that I can do that no one else can do for Juniper, and I like that. I like that time together, I even like it in the middle of the night, and I am scared of losing that connection. It might be that exclusively breastfeeding Juniper is meeting my needs more than hers now. I’m not saying that we’ll stop nursing, just that it might be time to give some food in addition. She might hate it, but I think that it’s up to her to find out.