“I think it is time to feed the child”:
When to Introduce Solids to Your Breastfed Baby
This little man is ready! So was my daughter. She was six months old and cute as can be. She was just starting to sit on her own, had just cut her first tooth, and was grabbing at everything she could. I was sitting at the kitchen table with her in my lap trying to eat my dinner. Suddenly, she takes both hands and grabs my sandwich. My mom says, ” I think it’s time to feed the child.” Granted, my family thought my baby needed food way before then, I mean they were feeding their babies rice cereal at two months old, right? ! I was breastfeeding my child and things were going well, but even I knew that eventually she would need other foods as well.
How do I know my baby is ready for food?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and WHO recommends continuing to breastfeed or provide breast milk as you introduce solid foods from the age of 6 months to 1 year. Solid foods are meant to complement the breastfeeding, not replace breastfeeding. Introducing solid food prior to 6 months does not increase caloric intake or increase rate of growth, but does substitute foods that lack protective properties for breast milk which has protective properties.
Breast milk should still make up 75% of your baby’s diet until baby is 1 year old. Your
Babies older than four months are easily distracted during nursing. They still want to breastfeed but may need a quiet place free from distractions, even then they may still find something to play with!
breast milk will actually increase in antibodies as the baby starts eating solids. Fortunately breast milk changes taste as mom’s diet changes which helps baby adjust to foods easier. As solid foods are introduced, some moms notice a reduction in the number of breastfeeding that a baby does. By twelve months the baby may only be nursing 3-4 times a day with a couple of snacks.
Remember, breast milk can be added to rice cereal or placed in sippy cup.
My daughter was telling us she was ready for solid foods:
- Able to sit up on their own or very minimal support
- Baby able to chew and no longer tongue thrusts
- Good head control
- Able to grab food off your plate and bring to his/her mouth (she definitely had this one down pact)
Encouraging Words for Moms:
Congratulations you have done it!
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, “Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk”; http://www.healthychildren.org, http://www.nursefamilypartnership.org, http://www.breastfeedingusa.org
Colostrum is baby’s first milk. It has been called “Liquid Gold”. It called this not only for it’s yellow color but the value that colostrum is for the newborn baby.
Benefits of Colostrum:
- Colostrum contains the IgA antibodies needed to fight infections that attack the mucous membranes in the throat, lung, and intestines.
- Colostrum acts as a natural laxative for baby to pass stools and reduce bilirubin levels and prevent jaundice.
- Colostrum coats the lining of the intestines which protects baby’s intestinal tract from foreign substances.
- Colostrum is high in leukocytes, white cells which destroy disease causing bacteria and viruses.
- Colostrum is low in fat, high in carbohydrates, proteins, and antibodies which are easy for baby to digest.
- Colostrum contains developmental factors necessary for growth.
Do I have enough colostrum?
All women have colostrum. Your body starts making it during your second trimester. Even if you did not leak during pregnancy, colostrum is still there. Once the placenta is delivered the hormones release the colostrum in your breasts for the baby. Colostrum is measured in teaspoons rather than ounces. Which is all baby needs.
Day 1: Stomach holds 5-7 ml ( 1-2 teaspoons)
Day 3: Stomach hold 3/4- 1 ounce
Day 7: Stomach holds 1.5- 2.0 ounces
One month: Stomach holds 2.5-5.0 ounces
Babies born premature or a baby that is sleepy and will not latch well can still benefit from colostrum. Mom can express and the colostrum can be given to baby via syringe. Colostrum is a living fluid that changes with time. It contains over 60 ingredients, 30 of which are unique to human milk. The secretory IgA of colostrum coats the intestine of the premature baby and helps prevent necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). (Source: http://www.lalecheleague.org)
Encouraging words for mom:
Ever feel like your baby is hungry ALL the time! Is your infant becoming a permanent fixture to your breasts? Do you feel like you don’t have enough milk? Are you tired? Do you think, Surely he can’t be hungry again? If so, your baby may be experiencing a developmental or growth spurt.
What is a Growth Spurt?
Growth spurts are times when the baby puts on add weight, grows longer, and may even meet a developmental milestone. Babies are more hungry and may be more irritable and fussy and or more ‘clingy’. Fortunately it only lasts for about 48 hours. During a growth spurt the baby may breastfeed more often and longer. Growth spurts are predictable. So stop reaching for the formula bottle or the rice cereal and breastfeed the baby. More breastfeeding equals more supply.
- Two week – This first growth spurt catches many moms by surprise. You have made it through engorgement and now baby is acting hungry. Do I have enough milk? The answer is yes! Your baby is just growing! The journey has begun.
- Three week – Baby is learning to snuggle and lift his/her head. Your baby is enjoying looking at mom or dad. He or she can focus about 10-12 inches, just far enough to see your face. So snuggle into a comfy chair or pillow, breastfeed and enjoy!
- Six week – Baby is starting to interact and smile. Babies become more social and fun. Baby may have a crying time so look for disengagement cues that baby is ready for a break. You may be going back to work so the temptation is to introduce formula. Keep breastfeeding and/or pumping and supply will increase to feed baby while you are away.
Three, Six, Nine Is Growing Time
Just prior to a growth spurt, babies may be sleepier than normal. Extra cuddles and breastfeeding is what the baby needs and wants. This is a time to take care of yourself as well. Increase water intake, rest and put the chores on hold. Now is a good time to elicit family help with the laundry!
- Three month – Baby will swipe at objects, lift his/her head while on his tummy. Baby will also maintain eye contact and follow moving objects. Babies smile at the sound of mom or dad’s voice and they will begin babbling.
- Six month – Baby will ‘find his feet’ and begin to sit up on his/her own. Baby is using a raking motion to grab at toys. How fun!
- Nine month – Let the crawling begin. Baby may even try to pull to stand. Baby may also say ‘mama’ and ‘dada’. Baby may also use hands to ‘wave bye-bye’.
Encouraging Words for Moms
The journey through growth spurts can have its ups and downs, but be encouraged, your body was made to provide milk for your baby. You can do it.
(sources: Nurse Family Partnership, 2016, http://www.babycentre.co.uk, http://www.healthychildren.org, http://www.momsmakemilk.com, http://www.whattoexpect.com, )
When I first started breastfeeding my first child, I did not think about breastfeeding rights. I just knew I wanted to at least attempt to breastfeed. I knew that if I did not at least attempt then I would look back and regret my decision. Yes, I wanted the best for my child. No, I did not have family members who had breastfed. There was no ‘rooming in’ or ‘skin to skin’ care. No lactation consultant came because there was only one and she wasn’t working when I delivered. My baby went straight to the nursery after delivery to be bathed. She came back crying and hungry. My heart broke. How long had she been crying and asking for me before the nurses brought her to me? Somehow we muddled through it and she recovered from the ordeal and stayed with me the rest of our hospital stay. I found my voice. And I kept my voice when my mom told me to give her a little formula after she spit up because she must ‘not like breast milk’. I kept my voice when I asked for a break at work because my husband had brought that same daughter to my job to breastfeed because we were out of pumped breast milk at home and she was HUNGRY!. I kept that voice when I asked for a chair to be dragged from a room down at the end of the hall to the ladies’ room so I could breastfeed her at the museum we were visiting. When she was over a year old, I kept that voice when family members looked at me and said “Are you still breastfeeding her?” with that “Really?!?” face that we all know and love. Knowing your Breastfeeding Rights can give you the ability to make choices. To make the choice that is best for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding Rights (these are just a few)**:
It is your right to make your own choice about breastfeeding.
It is your right to have healthcare workers to encourage and support breastfeeding.
It is your right to breastfeed your baby at any time day or night.
It is your right to keep your baby in your room 24 hours a day.
It is your right to not have your baby receive any bottle feeding or pacifiers.
It is your right to have someone trained to help you with breastfeeding, tell you how you are doing and help you when you need it and help you improve.
It is your right to breastfeed in any public or private location where you are allowed to be.
It is your right to breastfeed your baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, or have your baby receive your expressed milk.
**Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights by Noodle Soup http://www.noodlesoup.com/