My baby only wants to breastfeed

Dear Is This Normal,

I have tried feeding my 7.5 month old baby several things and she turns her nose up at it all. She won’t do formula, she won’t try rice cereal, she won’t eat fruits or veggies. So far she only wants to breastfeed. What can I do? 

Signed, 

No Solids

Dear No Solids,

As a mom to two girls who both loved the boob more than anything else on this big green earth, let me just say that I can understand this on a very deep level. One of my daughters took to solids right away, but the other one … let’s just say that if she could have continued breastfeeding through preschool and kindergarten, she would have. But, I’m happy to report that she isn’t a nursing 9-year-old, so there’s hope for your little girl yet! Just because your baby is not eating food right now doesn’t mean she won’t start when you try doing things a bit differently.

It sounds like you’ve tried the usual suspects, and she’s not a fan, clearly. It’s easy to confuse your baby’s food preferences as just a general disinterest in solid foods. It’s really, REALLY common for babies to refuse solids when you first introduce them. See, they’re not born with the skills required to conquer this new stage. Chewing and swallowing, even understanding the act of eating, these are learned skills! And every baby learns them at their own pace. 

While most experts recommend starting solids between the ages of 4-6 months, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to your baby’s feeding timeline. For many parents, it’s a long process with a lot of failures along the way. Since she’s refused purees and grain cereals, consider that it might not be the food itself, but the texture. Some babies prefer more variety in the textures of the foods they’re eating – so not just simple purees, but purees with some oomph! There’s a pretty wide range when it comes to textures, and if your little one is looking for something more substantial, try purees that are thicker (like mashed potatoes) or ones that contain whole bits of cooked food. Or take the guesswork out of it and go with a company like Little Spoon, who tailors menus to your baby’s age and developmental needs and has you covered with a menu that offers everything from simple purees to more adventurous ones that are the final step before table foods.

There are plenty of safe, whole foods she can also try! You want to stick to soft foods she can gum down and mash along with small pieces she can pick up with her fingers. Diced bananas, scrambled eggs, cooked fruit and veggies cut into bite-sized pieces, tofu, even boiled chicken or deboned fish. Just make sure the pieces are all soft and cut into small bites, and then let her go nuts! She’ll have control over what she tries, what she eats, what she picks up. This is key for so many babies who turn their noses up at spoon-feeding. 

The final thing to remember is that refusing a food once or twice doesn’t mean your baby doesn’t like it. In fact, experts agree that you can’t really determine if your baby likes a food or not until they’ve tried it about 15 times (and that means 15 separate occasions, not in the same sitting). 

Their palates are changing and developing, and you’d be surprised how one of the foods your little one quickly rejected turns out to be her favorite after the third or fourth go around. With the green light from your pediatrician, give baby-led weaning a try and see how she does! You may be able to skip right over the cereals and jars of purees if this works out. And she may find something she likes almost as much as your boobs.

Give Solids a Solid Try,

Is This Normal 

Age & Dating

Dear Is This Normal,

In response to the “Dating as a Single Mom Post” , one problem I often encounter is that I, being in my 40s, can’t find any men in their 40-60s who will want to date a woman with a toddler. My daughter is 2, and I’m 44. Most people my age or a bit higher have kids in college etc. and don’t want to deal with someone who has a two-year-old. They’ve been there, done that. What do you suggest in this situation? 

Signed, 

Single Plus One

Dear Single Plus One,

Ooooooh, this is a bit of a sticky wicket, isn’t it?! Listen, toddlers are great. Toddlers are like very small, ornery adults with terrible hand-eye coordination who say whatever comes to mind. I love them to pieces, but they are an acquired taste, and you can’t really blame someone for not wanting to go down that particular road again, you know? But does that mean you’re destined for solitude until your kid starts kinder? Not necessarily.

I think it’s important to first establish your dating end goal. Are you dating for fun, or are you dating in the hopes of finding a long-term partner/potential spouse? Because your goals are really going to determine how you go about dating while your little girl is a toddler. And those goals can change! No wrong answers here, but it can definitely influence how to do this with a toddler. 

If you are dating STRICTLY for fun at this point, my advice to you is this: keep your love life and your mom life separate. Well, as separate as possible. But when I first started dating, I wasn’t comfortable sharing/involving my kids. So while I made mention of being a mom on my dating profiles, I set some pretty clear boundaries up front about how much/little I shared about that part of my life. 

I made it clear that my kids were off-limits and that part of my life was private. I wasn’t looking for a parenting partner (I should mention I did this across the board, not just with men who didn’t have their own kids). Because at that point, I wasn’t looking for one! I was looking to get out of the house in real clothes, meet other adults, have adult conversations, and just get my newly-single feet wet. I met some guys, had some fun. It worked the way I needed it to work, and if that’s what YOU need right now, there is no reason you can’t put some boundaries in place to make it work for you.

Now, let’s discuss the possibility that you’re hoping for more than just a few dinners or booty calls out of this dating game. You’re ready for someone to share your life with, and that means every part of it. A lot of us want the same. But as you said, having a toddler can be a tough sell, especially for people who are past that stage in their own lives. 

You mentioned that you’re 44, and it sounds like you’ve been fishing in the 40-60s pool. Have you considered casting a wider net and having a go with someone a bit younger than yourself? I’m not saying you should put up flyers on college bulletin boards looking for recent grads. But perhaps lowering your range to, say, 35-40? Date someone younger, you say?! Blasphemy! But hear me out. Men in their mid-late 30’s will probably have young children of their own, or could be more open to dating someone with a young child. They may not have the same “been there, done that” mentality as men your age or older. Not to generalize here, but in my experience, older men tend to be a bit more set in their ways and less likely to adapt to living and dating in the 21st century.

Finally, here’s a little advice I like to give my single mamas: you’ve got to broaden your horizons and get more creative about where and how you meet other eligible single people/parents. 

The dating apps are great, but if you want to meet someone who’s OK with you having a toddler (or even has one of their own), you’ve gotta go where the kids are. Play dates, toddler classes, local parent group meet-ups. If your little girl is in preschool and they have a parent association, join and go to meetings! Even if you don’t meet a ton of eligible single dads, you WILL meet lots of other moms… and moms have friends. And moms talk. And moms can set you up with their super cute and successful friend who loves kids and has a golden retriever–Just sayin’. 

Keep at it, Plus One. I know dating with a toddler is hard. Hell, doing ANYTHING with a toddler is hard. But if you adjust your game plan a bit, and commit to going outside of your comfort zone, it can really pay off. 



Sending you good dating (and toddler-parenting!) vibes,

Is This Normal

When Can I Start Smoking Weed Again?

Dear Is This Normal,

I was a pretty regular weed smoker before I got pregnant. When I found out I was expecting, I made all the usual lifestyle changes like stopping drinking and smoking. I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy, and was wondering how soon after having my baby I can start smoking weed again? I’m pretty comfortable talking to my doctor about other things related to my pregnancy, but I feel weird asking them about smoking weed. 

From, 

Marijuana Mama

 

Dear Marijuana Mama,

Congrats on nearing the finish line! Pregnancy is no joke. I know I started planning how to get back to my pre-pregnant life as delivery day got closer, too. It’s so normal to want to start to feel. . . normal? Or at least a bit more like yourself, including doing some of the things you did before baby. You’re almost there! Pat yourself on the back because that’s a feat in-and-of itself.

As far as when you can start smoking weed after your baby is born, I have some good news: if you’re not planning on breastfeeding, studies show you can toke up as soon as you feel ready. In fact, weed may help ease some of your postpartum recovery. As a regular user prior to pregnancy, you’re probably aware that it can help with pain, insomnia, loss of appetite, and even social anxiety. The first weeks of bringing home baby are pretty intense, and if you feel like smoking weed would help take the edge off a bit, there’s no reason you can’t indulge responsibly. 

Keep in mind, though, that pregnancy can do really strange things to your body and biochemistry.  After my oldest was born, I developed an allergy to cats. Like, hello, I’ve had cats my whole life! You may find your body processes THC differently after pregnancy, so start small and don’t over-do it. Make sure that your little one is looked after and cared for by your partner if you smoke. It’s important to never expose your baby to secondhand smoke (regardless of the variety). 

If you are planning on breastfeeding, I would advise waiting. Research shows that the chemicals in pot (namely THC and CBD) do pass through breast milk and is detectable up to six days later. So even pumping and dumping isn’t really a feasible option when it comes to smoking Mary. 

There’s a lot of research out there about the positive outcomes of smoking marijuana in adults, but unfortunately there just isn’t enough research about the effects of THC in breast milk to make the risk worth it. Some animal studies have found that marijuana can impact weight gain and brain development in rats and mice. Another thing to consider is that THC may affect the quality and quantity of your breast milk, which can make for a difficult nursing journey. 

So if you’re going to breastfeed, hold off on smoking weed again until you’re done. But if you aren’t, you do you! Remember: take it easy at first, give your body a chance to acclimate, and always smoke responsibly. Best of luck on your delivery, mama! 

Sending Chill Vibes Your Way,

Is This Normal

 

Mine – Not Interested in Sharing

Hi Is This Normal,

Is it normal that I do not like people (even relatives) take my baby? Is it normal that I still have trouble handing my mother in law my daughter? I know I should be grateful that they want to take care of her and give me some time off… but it seems visceral! Even tired and hungry, I do not feel comfortable « sharing » my baby.

Dear Mine,

For a solid 5 weeks after my oldest was born, I didn’t feel OK letting even her dad hold her. Like, I let him? But I also hovered around like a shadow, making sure he was holding her right (because only I could hold her right, obviously). It was exactly as you’ve described: visceral. I had an almost physical need to have her in my arms and with me after she was born. “Can I hold the baby?” “Oh, that’s so sweet! But … no.” This little person was inside of me, and now outside of me, but it still felt very much like she was tethered to me and I didn’t want to cut that cord. It didn’t feel right or comfortable. I was way more relaxed with my youngest, LOL. Just passed her off to whomever had a free set of arms, pretty much. But that first taste of motherhood was INTENSE.

Verdict? Totally normal. Your family loves that baby, no doubt. But they have no idea what it feels like to have her literally inside of you. Transitioning from life-giver to life-sustainer is a slow process, and it can be hard to get to the point where you feel comfortable with other people caring for her. The concept of letting go and relinquishing some control? Feels impossible! You will, however, start to feel more comfortable with the idea of someone other than you caring for her. This isn’t a one-woman show, and it’s so important to have that support. Don’t force it right now, and take baby steps. Maybe have your mother-in-law come over and hang with you and the baby at home at first. Take a shower, do some things around the house. Not only will it be good for you to be able to relax a bit, but it’s good for your baby to start to develop those bonds with other people in her life.

But I do want to stress that you need to take care of you, too. Your baby’s well-being is tied to your well-being. When you’re tired or hungry or just tapped out, you need to rest and eat and recharge. You’re a mom now, yes. But you are still very much you! Care for you, as much as you care for her. What you’re feeling right now is normal, but it will also start to feel normal to “share” her with people you love and who love her. She’s a lucky girl to have so many of those people, and so are you!

 

Sharing is (Self-)Caring,

Is This Normal



I don’t love my daughter.

Hi Is This Normal,

I’ve had my daughter for a month now and…well, she’s just a thing. Like this blob. That I just have to do everything for with zero reward. I’m so mortified to say it, but I don’t get it. I’m not feeling that way. I’m waiting to fall madly in love but honestly every day feels like another date with someone I’m just not that into. I know this is like absolutely “taboo” and not the way to feel and I would never admit it to anyone, but is this normal? And what do I do?

Taboo

 

Dear Taboo,

I distinctly remember the first moment I laid eyes on my oldest, right after she was born. I’d carried her and birthed her and had this romanticized notion of motherhood, that I would look at her and we would lock eyes and fall madly and deeply in love. I gazed down at this squirming little human and thought, “Ew.” It was weeks before motherhood felt less like a job and more like a journey. You’re right – right now, she’s just a blob. It’s like trying to bond with or fall in love with a living potato at this stage. She doesn’t do much. It’s not super exciting or stimulating. Right now, you’re tasked with keeping her alive and thriving, and it can feel very mundane and boring and not at all rewarding.

I wish more moms would admit (to themselves and others) that the early weeks of motherhood are not always beautiful and meaningful and wondrous. It’s absolutely normal (seriously, many people have confided in us about this very feeling!), and no mom should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed by feeling a bit let down by it in the beginning.

But don’t take it from me – Dr. Catherine Birndorf, a clinical psychiatrist and the co-founder of The Motherhood Center, works with new mothers every single day, and she’s here to tell you that YOU are doing just fine, mama. Here’s her take on your question:

Taboo? How about totally normal. Again, I can’t tell you how many friends and patients have told me exactly the same thing. They too have been embarrassed to say it for fear of sounding like a bad mother, but this is no reflection of your love for or connection to the baby which can take time as you get to know each other. Becoming a mother is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. You are describing a very common experience that happens to many of us. Try not to be too hard on yourself for the things you don’t feel YET. It will come, and you will figure out your version of motherhood over time. I’ve always thought it was a lot to ask of a new mother to fall madly in love with someone she’s never met. You don’t know their preferences, their style, their personality. Your job is to keep them alive, with all the basics. But your love for them will grow and deepen over time as you get to know them.

Releasing you from the ‘unforbidden’ normal thoughts,

Is This Normal

 

The Motherhood Center, provides supportive services for new and expecting moms, including a range of treatment options for women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Whether you are looking for a support group for new mothers, lactation consultation, individual therapy or more intensive services to help you feel better, The Motherhood Center offers something to every woman making the transition to parenthood. Staffed by experienced professionals, they take an interdisciplinary approach to tackling pre- and post-natal care, PMADs, and everything in between.

How do I support a friend who’s just learned their child is special needs?

Hi Is this normal,

My loved one just learned of a diagnosis for their child  – how can I support and what is the right/wrong thing to do here?

Lost

Dear Lost,

In my opinion, you’re already doing the most supportive thing you can do, and that’s reaching out and asking for help with how to be the kind of friend they need right now. So often, people are afraid of saying the wrong thing so they ultimately say nothing. Or, they don’t consider their words or actions, and unintentionally hurt those they want to help. You’ve recognized that you need some guidance here, and honestly more people should take such consideration when dealing with people they love who are going through difficult times. So I commend you immensely for that – sometimes asking for help is the strongest, smartest thing we can do.

And in that vein, I’m going to introduce Gena Mann to offer her advice and expertise here. Because while I can certainly give you some pearls of wisdom on how to be supportive and helpful, you need to hear from someone who’s been in your loved one’s shoes. Gena is a mama to 4, with 2 sons on the autism spectrum, so trust me when I say she knows of what she speaks. She recently founded Wolf + Friends, an online resource for parents of children with special needs looking to connect with a community, and she has some great advice for supporting your friend and loved on through this next season of life.

 

Don’t say “I’m so sorry.” Don’t say, “My friend’s kid had it and he did a special diet and is cured!” And don’t grill your friend with 1000 questions right away. Everyone is different when it comes to sharing their child’s diagnosis. Some feel immediately confident and open about all of the details, while others need time to process. But I think it’s safe to say if a friend comes to you to share that their child has received an autism diagnosis, they still have a ton of questions and unknowns in their own mind.

Most importantly, they want to feel supported and heard. I would stick with something along the lines of, “This must be difficult for you. Is there anything I can do?” There is no one size fits all here,  because everyone’s needs will be different.

But there are some things you can offer that might be universally helpful. For example, offer to bring your child over to play. It can be so isolating to have a child with autism and parents often worry other kids won’t want to play because their child has delays or plays differently. You could also offer to babysit/occupy other children if they need to go to a therapist/specialist appointment. Or really, you can just say, “I am here for you and want to hear as much or as little as you want to tell me. I will laugh with you or cry with you and be whatever you need me to be.” Sometimes that is all they need in the moment.

So totally, completely, bored.

Hi Is This Normal

I’m bored out of my mind. Guess what people? Hanging out with a 1 ½ year old, reading the same book over and over again, getting our shit together for 45 minutes to go on the same park walk, following the same schedule I created to manage routine…everyday…it’s a seriously depressing bore.

Aren’t I supposed to be filled to the brim these days with joy and wonder? Isn’t this supposed to be what we’ve all been waiting for? I would do truly unspeakable things to just get a beer with a friend and complain about a coworker. I miss real, human, adult interaction. I am so, so sick of these books I painfully read aloud with fake animation. I have tried all the tricks. I ordered the play boxes. I am just bored. I get no joy out of doing these things. I feel so impossibly bored.

Is this normal?

Bored AF

 

Dear Bored AF,

Reality check: parenting is boring AF in the beginning. I mean, sure, there are some exciting moments (those first big milestones, the occasional trip to the ER, etc.). But generally speaking? You spend all your time with a tiny human who probably finds joy in a cardboard box and eats snacks they find on the floor. This isn’t super stimulating stuff here, mama.

Boredom is SO INCREDIBLY normal in these early years. You’d get bored doing the same thing over and over no matter what it was; same restaurant or bar every night, same spin class every Thursday, same routine day in and day out. That is boring! Routine is comforting, but goodness, it’s underwhelming. I always side-eye moms who seem totally and completely fulfilled by the day-to-day monotony of parenting. Like you, it brought me very little joy. I, too, longed for more. More stimulation. More variety. More in my life that felt like it was for ME, and not for my kids.

You know what? It’s time to shake it up a bit. And no, I don’t mean go to a different park or buy some new books for your kid. I mean get a new routine, one that is all about you. You had a kid, and now you’re a mom, but that doesn’t mean you’re no longer human. That doesn’t mean those other parts of yourself just wither away, never to be seen again. You can absolutely be a mom, and still be you. Take a few hours a week, and do whatever the hell you want with those hours. Check out of motherhood, and check into you again. Grab that beer with a friend, take a long lunch with your girls, talk about nonsense. You have to keep your embers burning. Because one day, your kid won’t need you every single hour of every single day. They’re going to go to school, and find their own interests. They’re going to grow up and be independent humans because that’s what we’re doing here. That’s the endgame, right? Devote our lives to them so they can have their own lives one day. And when that day comes, you don’t want to sit around wondering where YOU went.

You have so many years of motherhood ahead of you, and you know what? It does get more exciting (I have a tween, so I’m actually crowdsourcing ways to take the excitement down a notch at the moment). It gets more fun! But don’t look to your kids and your role as a mom to be your only source of personal fulfillment. They, and you, will always fall short.

Looking for Fun in All the Wrong Places,

Is This Normal