Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sardine Mama Answers Your Questions to the Google God

Business First.

In case you were wondering, the 3 most popular google searches that landed people on my blog last week were:

1)Can I feed sardines to my baby?

2)Potassium content of raisins

3)Puddle dogs

I feel badly for these people. I hate to disappoint them. So I'm going to do my best to answer the questions they have raised to the Google God.

Let's discuss these in order.

Who wants to feed sardines to a baby? A LOT of people, apparently. And they live all over the world. This past week people in Singapore, the Phillipines, and South Africa all joined various folks from the states in seeking the answer to this curious question. So here is my official answer to, "Can I Feed Sardines to my Baby?"

It depends on the age of the baby.

According to Dr. Sears (as in Bob Sears, son of the infamous Dr. William Sears - known as the father of Attachment Parenting), introducing solids before the age of 6 months is not recommended.

I know, I know. Many of you are taking your babies to pediatricians who are telling you to start solids between 4 and 6 months - but they are simply mistaken. Their information is outdated, and quite frankly, wrong. There are many, many reasons why this is a bad idea. Babies under the age of 6 months are physically not ready for solid foods. Most cultures do not give babies this age solid food at all. One of the dangers of feeding babies too soon is that they can develop food allergies. I can attest to this, myself. When Camille was about 6-months-old, a friend and I fed her some mashed sweet potatoes. Guess what Camille (now 6 YEARS old) is severely allergic to? Sweet potatoes. And sweet potatoes are even considered a non-allergenic food. But for poor Camille, they are extremely volatile. About 45 minutes after ingesting sweet potatoes her face flushes and she begins vomitting.

Some doctors will make the ridiculous claim that if you do not take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity (between 4 and 6 months), you will end up with a child who cannot effectively eat. Think about that for a moment. Are you done? Do you see how ridiculous this is? Parents have enough to worry about as far as screwing up their kids goes. They do not need to add a 45-year-old man who never learned to chew to their list of horrible potential outcomes of bad parenting.

Dr. Sears, along with the World Health Organization, does not recommend giving babies solid foods until after the age of 6 months. In fact, you can wait much longer. Until they are about a year old, Dr. Sears says that feeding a baby solid food serves social purposes only, and is not nutritionally substantive in any way. Think about it. You have a kid eating some mashed vegetables. How many calories could he be getting?

Babies should be breastfed for as long as possible. Notice I said possible. Learning to breastfeed isn't always easy and I had varying levels of success with it, myself. Ellie breastfed for 9 months which was pretty good considering I was a working/travelling mom at the time. Joel had issues and I gave up after a couple of weeks. I lacked the support necessary to resolve the issues. Camille went for 2 years, and Jules and Jasper both went three years. In fact, I have a picture of Jules nursing while holding a hamburger. Anyway, so breast is definitely best, but either way - delay the introduction of solids! Your kid will have plenty of opportunities to meet solid food once his digestive system is ready to handle it.

Solid foods (including sardines) should not be given for the first 6 months, and are in fact, not needed until one year of age. For mamas raising vegetarian babies who are allowed fish, once solid foods are introduced (preferrably at 10 - 12 months of age) sardines are an excellent source of vitamin E.

On a speculative note, I think that parents over-worry about feeding their children. I have run into what seems to me to be a relatively new phenomenon, lately. More and more children are being treated for eating disorders. I am not talking about bulemia or anorexia. I am talking about 3, 4, and 5-year-olds going to therapy to address their eating issues. What issues, you might ask? Well, eating very sparsely and in spurts. Isn't this normal? Judging by my 5 kids, this is extremely normal. Jasper and Camille have followed in their older siblings' footsteps in their habits of going seemingly days without ingesting anything other than oxygen and the occasional cracker. They get on kicks where they will only eat a certain food. They go on binges. It is annoying but I think it is normal. My three older children exhibited the exact same behavior and all three are excellent eaters, now. In fact, they will eat almost anything and enjoy the heck out of food (like me). And, they know when to quit (unlike me). I have never forced them to finish food they didn't want and they recognize when they have had enough.

I think that, as a culture, we have become hyper-sensitive and almost over-anxious to diagnose some problem in our kids. Is it possible to consider "normal" to be the exception? Makes no sense. SO...

Onto the next question for Dear Sardine Mama.

People somehow end up on this blog when googling the content of potassium in raisins because of a post I did quite awhile back describing our homeschool co-op performing a chemistry experiement with poisonous chemicals while simultaneously baking oatmeal cookies. What can I say? We like danger. We are that kind of people. Anyway, the title of the post had both the words potassium and raisins in it. Hence, landing people seeking the potassium content of raisins (and occasionally oatmeal) on this blog. If this has happened to you, I'm sorry. To make it up to you, let me just say that raisins contain 1,020 mg of potassium.

The third and final question I will answer is one that perplexed me for a long time. People regularly end up on this blog when googling "puddle dogs". Why? Because I posted once about dog puddles, as in puddles of dog pee, when Ranger was a puppy. But what the heck is a puddle dog? I'm not sure, but I think people are trying to search for poodle dogs. As the mother of a dyslexic child, I can see this happening. So, if you are googling puddle dogs, try this. P-O-O-D-L-E.

Also, let me say that I grew up with a poodle. He lived 17 years. He was stubborn, prone to snapping, vomitted every time he got in the car, and was quite vindictive and would punish us for every imaginary slight by peeing on the white chair in the living room, but only if we were watching him. It was his way of flipping us off. He was chronically and terminally ill with various ridiculously expensive ailments pretty much the entire time he was alive. And I loved him to death and when he died I came home from college for 3 days because I was suffering so badly I couldn't focus and needed to mourn with my family.

So yes, get a poodle.

I am worn out from giving all of this advice. Unsolicited advice never tires me. I could give it endlessly and often do. But these solicited googles are too much responsbility. I must rest now.

Sardine Mama - burdened by being the expert on almost everything. Sigh.


  1. sardines? eeeeewwwww.
    no offense.

  2. There is a really great book titled "My Child Won't Eat" written by a pediatrician who had lots of parents coming in and telling him that--so he wrote a book that basically says "chill out, your kid will not starve, offer him a variety of healthy foods and he will grow up fine." He seriously could have said it in that many words, but he knew it would not satisfy the neurotic parents he was dealing with, so he wrote a full book that says this. So, for all those who are worried their toddler is not eating enough, read this book written especially for you. BTW, the author is from Spain (lives there), so apparently it is not just US parent who are neurotic.

  3. Oh, forgot to add that the American Academy of Pediatrics also does not recommend solids until about 6 months of age. They have held this recommendation for probably 10 years (they were only 40 years behind La Leche League in coming out with this notion.) Anyhow, if anyone is being told by their pediatrician to start sooner, they need to tell them to see what their own professional organization has to say on the subject.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Ha! I actually googled 'can you feed a baby sardines' and got this blog. I'll read this instead, much more interesting...

  6. "When Camille was about 6-months-old, a friend and I fed her some mashed sweet potatoes. Guess what Camille (now 6 YEARS old) is severely allergic to?"

    --This hardly constitutes a scientific observation. The scientific evidence to date indicates that there is no connection between the development of food allergies and either early or late introduction of foods beyond six months.

    Also, when did Dr. Sears become the final authority in all things baby?

  7. Really? That isn't scientific observation? Because that's totally what you should expect to find here. Evidence of scientific observation. I mean, that's why everyone comes here...for my astute scientific observations.

  8. I've blogged about your blog because I think this is hilarious. Also found you by making the sardine baby search. ;)

  9. My nine month old and I just finished sardines AND sweet potatoes haha (my cravings for tonight). Both nutritious. His doctor had already given the "ok" for all solids. Just had to seek an alternate though. Thanks.

  10. I also got here by doing a sardine baby search :-) Thanks for the info!