Tag Archive | Nursing

When is Baby Ready for Solid Foods?

When Shlomo was a baby, we decided to give him solid food only at 6 months.  Not 5 months and 2 weeks, but six months, to the day, or perhaps plus a day or two.  After all, nursing babies don’t need solid food before then; the range of 4-6 months is because, until recently, formula-fed babies were thought to need solids from 4 months, regardless of whether their digestive system was completely ready for it.  (Recently, the guidelines have changed, and the new guidelines say to start solids only at six months, regardless of whether the baby is breastfed or formula fed.)  And so six months it would be.

Honestly, four to six months is an estimate.  Just like not every baby smiles at six weeks exactly, not every baby is born on their due date, and not every baby crawls at the same time – so, too, not every baby’s digestive system is ready for solids at exactly the same time, either.  The 4-6 months for starting solids is a general guideline; even though, as a general rule, you won’t hurt your baby by giving them solids at five months and one week, it doesn’t mean that that’s what’s absolutely best for your specific baby.

If so, how will you know when to give your baby solids?

When Shlomo was five months old, we went to visit my family, in Canada.  When he fussed after a feeding, my mother, always wanting to get to the fun stuff, give advice, and catch a “first” before we went back home, told us that he needed solids.  He was five months and a few days, and we said no.  He might want it – in fact, he definitely wanted it – but he didn’t need it.

When Shlomo was five months and one week, my family went to visit a lakeside cottage; we had been invited to go with, but the technical details did not work out, and so we stayed behind, with my grandmother, cousins, and Esther, who also couldn’t go for technical reasons.  During the week that followed, Shlomo suddenly stopped sleeping as well as usual, stopped pooping during the day, and when he woke up at night and pooped, it was this weird poop (Yitzchak says it was “foamy”) that leaked all over.  After a few days of this, Yitzchak picked up the phone and called his mother (ahem, ahem).  She listened to the description and said, “Sounds like he’s ready for solids.  Try giving him banana first and then oatmeal; those are two foods that practically nobody reacts to.”

I was peeved.  I had wanted to wait until six months.  Helloo, the baby’s gut takes about six months to fully close.  But I told myself that evidently Shlomo’s gut was showing signs of readiness two weeks early, and five months, two weeks, was still pretty good.  We went out, bought some bananas, opened one partially, took a spoon, scraped some banana onto the spoon, and fed it to Shlomo (how I miss the banana-scraping days; oh, wait, we’ll soon be back there).

Abracadabra – that night, he went back to sleeping normally, pooping normally, and all was well.  My mother had her wish (kind of; I don’t think she was wishing that this would happen while she was away vacationing), and my best-mother complex had taken a slight, but not too serious, hit.  We took bananas with us on the plane home, and fed them to our five-months-two-and-a-half-week-old.  Shlomo’s first solid foods had been eaten not at home, but at his great-grandmother’s house.  (And he loved it, by the way.)

This, then, is the answer: Your baby’s gut is ready for solid food when they don’t poop on their regular schedule, their poop is weird foam, and they’re not sleeping well.

Lately, Tova has been pooping later and later in the day, and making only one or two poops, as opposed to her usual three or four.  They are also very liquidy, instead of the regular seedy.  Is this her version of foam?  Or should we wait?  For the moment, we are waiting.  We have time; there’s no rush.

Plus, there are three very nice advantages to breastmilk-only poop: 1. You don’t have to take her out of a synagogue, or stop praying, just because she made a poop.  2. Most (95%) of the poop that gets on her clothes doesn’t leave any kind of mark, even without stain treatment.  Of the remaining 5%, if I put stain remover onto it once, it comes out 99% of the time.  Which means that between two breastfed kids, I have maybe two or three garments that were stained, truly stained, by breastmilk poop. 3. Ditto for breastmilk spit-up – I don’t think I’ve had to use stain remover at all.

In other words, I really like the convenience of my baby’s bodily fluids not staining anything.  And I will miss that when we add solids.  On the other hand, after they start solids, the poop becomes more solidified and they spit up less.  So it kind of (but not quite) evens out . . . right?

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Extremism Sometimes Pays Off

Yes, it does.  Because if you’re extreme about something, you usually know enough to argue your case when necessary.  And you usually are loath enough to agree to any alternative, that you stick to your decision and persevere.

[Sometimes it’s not a good thing to be an extremist.   But sometimes it is.]

Here’s a case in which Yitzchak and I were – are – both extremely glad that I am as extremist as I am.  (And my apologies for not posting for an entire month.  For most of the month, I was slightly out of it.)

I was in the hospital, trying to sleep, with a baby who wouldn’t stop crying every time she was put on her back.  From the leg movements, the reason was quite obvious: gas.  But what can you do when the only place to put the baby is a bassinet, you have no gas medicine, everything is closed, and even if it wasn’t you aren’t allowed to leave the ward?  Answer: Nothing.  You’re stuck holding the baby.

I was so exhausted (and this was nearly entirely the hospital’s fault) that I felt like I was about to drop her.  I’m not a person who cries easily, but I was crying then.  I just needed another pair of hands, and Yitzchak’s (even if he had been allowed to stay overnight, which he wasn’t, strange as it may be) weren’t available; he had to be close to home to pick Shlomo up from the neighbor’s in the morning.  And more than that, he needed to rest, because he had slept even less than me and had to take Shlomo to gan in the morning.

I refrained from calling Yitzchak, even though he had told me to call if I needed support, and just sent text after text, knowing that he would see them only in the morning.  One of the sentences I kept saying over and over [to myself, and to Yitzchak, before he went to sleep,] was, “Dang it/sheesh, I just need another pair of hands that I can trust won’t give her formula.  And I don’t know that I can trust the nurses.”

At about 3am, a nurse came in and we had the following conversation:

Nurse: Hi, is everything okay?

Me: Everything’s okay. (Except that she’s crying and I don’t know what to do, I can’t hold her for fear of dropping her or falling asleep over her; I need to sleep and there’s no one to hold her, and every time I put her down, she cries because she’s gassy.)

Nurse: She’s been crying a lot tonight.

Me: Yeah, she’s gassy. (Wow, thanks for stating the obvious.  Are you offering to hold her so that I can sleep?  Can I even trust you?)

Nurse: Maybe she’s hungry?

Me: No, she just ate.

Nurse: But she’s only nursing.

Me: Yes, but she’s not hungry, she just ate.

Nurse: She’s nursing, so she’s hungry.  Maybe you should give her a supplement?

Me: No, she’s not hungry.  (I knew I couldn’t trust you!  Thanks for telling me that I made the right choice in choosing not to ask for help.*)

Nurse: You sure you don’t want to give her a supplement?

Me: Yes, I’m sure.  She’s gassy, she’s not hungry. (And formula isn’t a solution to anything; it’s just bad.  Plus, she only needs 5cc at the moment, and she got it.)

The nurse left.  And I cried and texted Yitzchak, who, when he read the text at 5:30 in the morning, was furious at the nurse.

Yitzchak took Shlomo to gan, and then came with the carseat and a pair of hands to relieve me.  He was going to bring gas medicine (Simicol) but after speaking with Mom decided not to (because it isn’t really for babies under a week old.)

But seriously, if I wasn’t so dead-set that formula is a medicine to be used only when medically necessary (baby doesn’t have a mother, baby is lactose intolerant, mother doesn’t have milk or for some reason her milk is contaminated), and is permanently damaging in every other case, then I probably would have given in.

And then there was the nurse that told me that babies don’t get gassy before the fourth day – to which the response was a prompt [huge] burp.

Well-meaning, yes.  But definitely not that helpful.

And if I didn’t know better, I KNOW that I would have given in.  I know, because the only thing holding me back was the knowledge of the potential dangers that even a single bottle of formula can pose.

Extreme?  Maybe.

But it worked.

And continued working despite the issues that cropped up afterwards.

Because ignorance is not always bliss, and sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you, or your kid.

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*I believe, as I always have, that rooming-in is the best option, and I still believe it.  I also think – or rather, know – that if the delivery room staff, and protocols, had been different, I would not have been nearly so exhausted.  In other words, despite the difficulty presented here, I do not believe that it is good for the baby to be in a nursery, separated from its mother, just after being born; in fact, I believe the exact opposite.

A Bone to Pick: More on Nursing vs. Formula

I am planning to spend a day taking pictures, and then to spend a while posting pictures and commentary on life in Israel.  But before I do that, I want need to rant, get this out of me, and move on.

I have a [huge] bone to pick.  It has been bugging me since Shlomo was a couple of months old, over a year ago.  If you are super-sensitive and do not agree with my standpoint on nursing vs. formula feeding (read this to see if you do), stop right here, and do not read the rest of this post.  You’ve been warned; don’t say I insulted you.

Disclaimer:  I am not speaking, in this post, about the mothers forty years ago, thirty, or even twenty-five.  I am speaking about the mothers that I meet on the street, who are my peers, and are supposed to know (but evidently don’t) what I am about to write. 

I am also not referring, in any way, shape, or form, to mothers, or babies, whose doctors have informed them that they have specific medical needs that impede breastfeeding.  If you cannot breastfeed for a medical reason, either yours or your baby’s, that is what formula is for, and I support you completely.  Please do not read this post; it is not meant for you.

Now, back to the beginning:  I have a [huge] bone to pick with mothers who choose to formula feed.  It began when I started getting comments on why I was not feeding my baby formula.  I got even more annoyed when these same people started deriding me for continuing to nurse.  And I got extremely annoyed (even though, to my credit, I always kept my cool) when they started telling me that they knew more than I did, because they were pregnant again, or had already had two, when our [first] babies had just turned one.

I’m sorry; having two babies in one year (plus or minus) is nothing to be proud of.  No, it’s not.  Just forget it.  If it happens, it happens, but it is far from ideal, by any standard (including religious standards).  (Yes, nursing really does can work as birth control – more on that later.)

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from Green Grub Wellness

If I am right, and I know I am, do NOT put me down for it.  It annoys me (but does not, in any way, deter my determination to nurse).  It makes me want to ban formula from being sold in supermarkets and make it prescription-only, with each OB/GYN, psychiatrist, and pediatrician allotted a certain number of prescriptions per month, and no overlaps (i.e., you cannot receive a prescription from more than one doctor, and you are allotted a certain number per year).  If you choose not to nurse, the least you can do is not flaunt it; flaunting the fact that you chose, of your own free will, to do something harmful to your child is disgusting and absolutely repulsive.  That’s first off.

Second of all, do not tell me that I am wasting my time and energy nursing and pumping, because you know so many babies who were formula fed and were fine.  You just end up sounding like an ignoramus (to put it nicely) who is talking about things that she obviously has never researched.  If you knew what you were talking about, you’d know that breast milk is the best, with only a few extreme medical exceptions (such as the mother being addicted to drugs, on certain medications, or a baby who is extremely lactose intolerant), and that there is a direct correlation between formula and all sorts of health problems.

And third, do not tell me that your baby is just as well off as mine is, even though he’s being formula fed.  Go get a life, and get an education.

Sure, we all know some breastfed babies who were sick a lot, and some formula-fed babies who are hardly ever sick.  Well, first of all, anecdotes do not make evidence.  Second, imagine what would have happened if the breastfed baby, who seems to always get sick, had been formula fed.  He would’ve been a lot worse off than he is now, and a lot sicker.  You can’t know, when your baby is born, whether he will have food sensitivities and frequent ear infections, or not.  And because you can’t know, you have to give your baby the best stuff you can – i.e., breast milk – so that he can grow up as healthy as possible.

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from Ten Steps

If it turns out that your baby has sensitive skin and allergies, be glad you’re breastfeeding, because he’d be worse off without it.  And if it turns out that your baby is pretty healthy, then think how much healthier he’d be, in the long run, if he had been breastfed.  Did you know that Crohn’s, which shows up in young adulthood, affects nearly double the number of young people who were formula-fed as those who were breastfed?  There are many other illnesses that are the same way.  Obviously, this doesn’t mean that breastfed babies won’t get sick later on, or that formula-fed babies will.  It just means that these are the facts, and you can weigh the risks of formula for yourself.

If you choose to formula-feed your baby, you are taking a serious gamble with his or her future health.  Don’t tell me that formula is good for your baby, or that I should stop nursing.

If you would like to see my sources, click on all the links.  Some of them are more informal, but some are pretty impressive.  All of them together are a small part of the wealth of research supporting breastfeeding and showing how formula is harmful.

Want to know why I think it’s my business how other people feed their babies?  Click here.  It’s long, but it states all the reasons I would have given you, in addition to others that I didn’t even think of.

For your information:  I Googled “formula is better than breastfeeding,” just to see the other side of the argument, and came up empty-handed.

Here is an understated summary of how breastfeeding benefits babies:

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from The Alpha Parent