When your baby was born, you had a lot to worry about. How to hold him without breaking his neck. How to change his diaper without getting poop all over your hands. And most worrying of all: how to feed him.
Chances are you wanted to breastfeed. Most moms do. Chances are also good that you had trouble with it. Maybe your milk took a long time to come in. Maybe your baby wasn’t gaining weight fast enough. Maybe your nipples were so sore that latching him on felt like grinding glass into your chest, which didn’t make any sense considering he had no teeth. Maybe you just hated feeling like a cow.
Or maybe breastfeeding went fine, in which case you had other things to worry about. Like whether the broccoli you ate for dinner was the reason he was having trouble sleeping. Or whether that bowl of ice cream was giving him a diaper rash. Or whether you were going to be able to pump enough to keep him on breastmilk when you went back to work. Or whether you were ever going to go pee by yourself again.
Or maybe you knew from the start that you didn’t want to breastfeed, in which case you could worry about BPA or the wrong speed of nipples or whether you made a mistake mixing that bottle in the middle of the night.
And no matter how you were feeding your baby, at some point, you felt guilty. You thought you must be doing something wrong.
But you shouldn’t.
Because no matter how carefully you feed your newborn, no matter how much you protect his virgin digestive system and dutifully measure his weight gain, he will blow all your work to bits the minute he gets mobile.
It may not happen right away. But at some point between the time he starts crawling and the time he becomes an actual human (probably around age four), he will eat something so disgusting that you’ll realize all your worry about feeding him was pointless. He will eat it and survive, and you’ll discover that his digestive system is much more robust than you ever imagined.
My baby does this on a weekly basis. I’ve called poison control so often, I have the number memorized. Last week it was potting soil, which I thought seemed pretty safe. I called just in case. They told me it was fine for him to eat fertilizer as long as it wasn’t a regular part of his diet.
They said the same thing about crayons, chalk, gravel, and scented body spray, in case you’re wondering.
But those are nothing. I’m still waiting for him to eat something really gross.
Like my friend’s toddler did the other day. My friend had decided to give her baby some diaper-free time so she could start practicing a little bit of part-time EC. And — you know where this is going, don’t you? — in the 5.7 seconds that my friend was tossing some dirty bottles in the sink, her baby pooped. And ate it.
The baby, of course, is fine. Totally fine. Just like every other baby throughout the history who ate his own poop. People have actually survived by eating poop in extreme situations. Babies don’t even think it’s gross.
And another friend’s baby went even farther. (Is this starting to sound like an episode of Fear Factor?) She got into the bathroom trash can. Which had a menstrual product in it. Yes, a used one.
Worst part? It wasn’t even her mother’s. It was the used menstrual product of a guest who’d been at their house that morning.
She ate someone else’s used menstrual product.
But that was several years ago, and the baby is perfectly healthy.
All of which is just to say: Stop feeling guilty about breastfeeding. Or formula feeding. Or animal crackers or m&m’s or ice cream or Fritos or Twinkies.
Because no matter what less-than-perfect food you feed your baby, at some point he will feed himself something much, much worse.
You’re feeding your baby? Awesome.