Sunday, December 30, 2007

Proper Timing of Solids

I have been asked a lot when I am going to start Charlotte on solid food. I’ve made it clear that I am going to wait until she is at least 6 months old and begins to show interest.

Many moms ask why they should delay solids until 6 months?
Interest: It seems their baby is interested in food and that is one of the cues given on Baby Center. However, as one poster noted, our babies are also interested in the watching us type and fold laundry. Does that mean they are ready for these tasks? No. Babies have a natural curiosity about everything going on around them. This curiosity is what helps their brains to grow and develop. If we take away their best source of nutrition, we may impede their development.

Sleeping: So, let’s give the baby solid food so we can get more sleep? That seems awfully selfish to me. Setting aside the single mom who has to work 2 jobs to make ends meet (since that is the exception, not the norm), the vast majority of us can deal with waking every 3-4 hours to nurse a baby. I have said several times to those who will listen that I feel so good when I am breastfeeding. And I don’t even just mean the about the benefits to my daughter. I feel so good because the act of breastfeeding releases oxytocin (a happy hormone) into my system, giving me the desire to continue. God designed our bodies to do this so we can get through those night feedings. There are many more arguments against this reason. I highly recommend you read this KellyMom.com article that is based on research and provides links to other relevant research.

What do the ‘experts’ say?
You can find an ‘expert’ to say just about anything you want. I know that. And that 86.7 % of all statistics are made up on the spot. However, it is important to remember that not every pediatrician is an expert. They have specialties as well, areas of extra interest that often don’t include infant nutrition. I can tell from reading the message boards on Baby Center that many pediatricians give their patients ‘permission’ to introduce solids before 6 months, even though the best in their field say otherwise. Why do they do this? I can’t be sure… but most likely it has to do with the amount of time it would take out of their schedule to give more direction and support to delaying solids. I won’t get on the soapbox of declining healthcare… but I think it contributes to the early use of solids.

Since Baby Center is one of the first sites that pops up when a mom goes looking for information about how to raise her baby, let’s look at what they say.
On Sitting – “By the way, most pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is sitting with minimal support before starting him on solid foods.”
On Solids -
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for at least six months — though parents will attest that some babies are eager and ready to eat solids earlier.”
“You can introduce solids any time between 4 and 6 months if your baby is ready.”
“His digestive system simply isn't ready for solids until he nears his half-birthday.”
They contradict themselves a lot in this article. My belief is they do this so they can appease the parents who decide to give solid foods before the APA recommended time of 6 months. I think they do this so they can keep their audience since Baby Center is also a store that sells all kinds of stuff for babies and older kids.

Baby Center Message Boards
I read a few pages of posts on this thread and believe it definitely supports my idea of what the Baby Center readers are looking for. The only thing I can really agree with on this thread is that the mother needs to do what she thinks is best for her child. Notice, I don’t think she should do what she FEELS is best. We should be thinkers, that is how God designed us. He gave us breastmilk as the perfect food for a baby and there is no other food in nature that has as high a calorie content as it. It is important that we carefully consider what is happening to our babies when we give them something other than breastmilk. I don’t want to get into the breastmilk vs. formula debate here (there is no doubt what I think is best). I just wanted to focus on introducing solid foods into our babies’ diets.

Disclaimer: I don’t think moms who give formula or solids before 6 months are bad moms. I just wish there was a better support system for moms so they didn’t feel like they had to make these choies based on inaccurate information.

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