“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:
I am often asked, ” Why should I breastfeed my baby? ” We hear that breastfeeding is best. It is nature’s nutrition. Breast milk is often called liquid gold. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and then continuation of breastfeeding with baby/table food until the baby is at least one year or longer. But why is it best and what are the benefits? Well here is just a short list of benefits:
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom
Breastfeeding benefits for mom are associated with the cumulative duration of breastfeeding. Which means that if breastfeed for 3 months one child and 6 months the second child, mom reaps the benefits of breastfeeding for 9 months.
- Breast and ovarian cancer. Reduces the risk of certain types of breast cancer. Breastfeeding for cumulative duration longer than 12 months is associated with 28% reduction in breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- Immediate postpartum benefits. Mom’s who breastfeed have less postpartum blood loss. Bleeding after delivery lasts shorter than those who do not breastfeed. The mom’s uterus returns to normal size quicker.
- Loose weight. We all want to fit into those jeans we wore prior to pregnancy. Breastfeeding moms at six months weigh less than moms who didn’t breastfeed.
- Diabetes. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 4-12% for each year she breastfed.
- Arthritis. Incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is reduced with a cumulative breastfeeding of 12 months.
- Heart disease. Women who breastfeed have a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
- Depression. Studies show a reduction in postpartum depression among those who breastfed vs those who did not or who weaned their baby early.
“I am not telling you it is going to be easy– I am telling you it is going to be worth it” (Art Williams)
Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby and the earth. ~Pamela K. Wiggins
“Breastfeeding reminds us of the universal truth of abundance; the more we give out, the more we are filled up, and that divine nourishment – the source from which we all draw – is, like a mother’s breast, ever full and ever flowing.”
― Sarah Buckley
You entered the world;
Hungry for warmth of mother;
My milk sustains you
—Jennifer L Miller
“I lost most of my weight from breastfeeding and I encourage women to do it; It’s just so good for the baby and good for yourself.”- Beyonce
Post written by: Blair Creekmore, RN, IBCLC
(References: “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk”, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827)