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Introducing Solids at Three Months

At about two months old my little girl looked liked she was already interested in food. Because I had been sleeping her on her tummy (as mentioned in my previous post) she had already gained a lot of good neck control. But I thought I should wait. She got to 12 weeks and I thought she can’t wait much longer! She looked like she was going to steal food from my mouth. So at 12 weeks I started her on rice cereal and breast milk.

Now just to backtrack a little I had been talking to my mum about this and she had started me on rice cereal when I was three months old. Actually, the story goes that one night I wouldn’t sleep at all and my dad had had enough and thought I must be starving. So out of sheer desperation he mixed up Weetbix with milk (cow’s milk) and fed me four Weetbix in a row. I was starving! After that they continued to feed me solids. My sisters and brothers were all started on solids in that 3 – 4 month age range. My cousins were given solids at 6 weeks. No one in my family (on my Dad’s side) has any allergies and that is out of 25 cousins.

I then find out from my GP that recently the information has changed and “experts” are saying that babies need to start solids between 4 to 6 months. And not only that, but they all the highly allergenic foods should be introduced to them during this period as well. My Maternal Child Health Nurse also told me that I should start feeding my baby solids even though this is contrary to the advice from the World Health Organisation and also from the Australian Breast Feeding Association. They both recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. However, my my Maternal Child Health Nurse told me that they have found that too many babies are starving during this period and parents are turning to formula milk to try and fill them up.

Again looking back on my family and extended families experiences we were introduced to things like eggs and peanut butter very early on, and again no one in my family has any allergies to these things.

Lets get back to my little one. She has been eating solids now since she was 3 months (she is now nearly 6 months old). At the start it was just at dinner time and I would feed her rice cereal mixed with breast milk. At nearly 4 months I started mixing some stewed pear or apple into the rice cereal. Then after 4 months I introduced two meals a day and started her on new flavours such as banana, carrots, pumpkin, avocado, blueberries, brocolli and parsnip.

At 4 and half months old I started giving her 3 meals a day. For breakfast she has Weetbix mixed with cow’s milk and hot water. Lunch is normally some puréed veggies, followed by yoghurt and stewed fruit. Dinner is also puréed veggies but from about 5 months onwards I started giving her meat with her dinner. I purée veggies and meat together, or add some sauce (such as pasta sauce) from our own dinner to her veggies. I have also given her egg custard and will soon introduce her to fish and nuts. So far it has all been going really well and she has had no problems with any of the foods she has tried. She loves her meal times and eats like a little champion. I am still breastfeeding her and will probably continue breastfeeding until she is about a year old.

If you are thinking of starting your baby on solids early and are confused about all the conflicting advice that is out there, I would suggest that you go with your gut feeling and observations of your own baby. Every baby is different and will develop differently. My youngest brother wasn’t started on solids until he was 5 months old because that was when my Mum thought he was ready. I read quite a bit of information before I decided to start her on solids early but really I was prompted by the fact that she seemed to want it. I have also found that my mum and aunties are a wealth of knowledge and that they’re knowledge comes from experience.

Below a listed some of the signs that you should look out for that indicate if your baby is ready for solids (from Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food):

 Loss of tongue-thrust reflex – This allows baby to drink and swallow liquids with ease; with the tongue-thrust reflex still present, baby may simply drink in liquid purees or push the food back out. According to Dr. Jim Sears, in the first four months the tongue thrust reflex protects the infant against choking. When any unusual substance is placed on the tongue, it automatically protrudes outward rather than back. Between four and six months this reflex gradually diminishes, and that glob of cereal actually may have a chance of making it from the tongue to the tummy!

ready for solids Ability to let you know she is full from a “meal” with signs such as turning away from the bottle or breast.  This is important so that baby is able to self-regulate the amount of food being eaten.  This helps stop baby from accidentally overeating as parents may continue to feed baby thinking that she is still hungry.

ready for solids Ability to sit up and hold head up unassisted

ready for solids Interest in your food (I tend to disagree with this one as when a baby reaches the age of 4-6 months, he is interested in putting everything in his mouth.)  

ready for solids Doubling of birth weight

ready for solids Frequently waking in the middle of the night when a solid sleeping pattern had been established.  This may not be the best indicator that your baby is ready for solids. Please keep in mind that a growth spurt will occur between 3-4 months of age, 6-7 months of age and also 9-10 months of age.  Your baby may also be waking due to an illness or teething.

For further information:

What has been your experience of starting your baby on solids?

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Why I Hate Formula Milk and Why Breast is Best

I have had a terrible time getting used to breastfeeding it did not come naturally. I have had cracked and bleeding nipples, engorgement, an over supply of milk, mastitis and then a thrush infection in my breasts. However, I persevered. My stubbornness in persevering has really come down to the convenience of breastfeeding (sterilising bottles, boiling water, carry enough formula around with me) and the fact that I HATE formula milk companies!

From May 2011 to July 2012 I lived in Indonesia working with a not-for profit organisation that helped street children in Jakarta. While living in Indonesia I became aware of a number of manipulative and unethical marketing practices from formula milk companies such as Nestle and Danone. Firstly television ads in Indonesia are absolutely bombarded with formula milk ads, and they are not just for babies. The supermarkets usually have two whole isles dedicated to formula milk. There is formula milk for babies, toddlers and children right up to teenage years. On top of this there is formula milk for pregnant and breastfeeding mums. They have really covered all areas! I fell pregnant while I was living in Indonesia and my Indonesian colleagues told me that I needed to start drinking milk daily. I was a bit confused and told them that I do have cows milk daily for breakfast. They then informed, “oh no this is not the right milk, you need to have powdered (or formula milk) daily”. I couldn’t even try to explain to them why this wasn’t true. Some Indonesians even believe all milk is powdered to begin with. My husband had this discussion with one of his colleagues and was like: “What do you think when they pull on a cow’s udders powder poofs out?” They soon realised that this did seem a little ridiculous.

On top of the bombardment of T.V ads and the presence of formula milk in supermarkets, hospitals let marketing representatives come to the maternity ward of the hospital and meet with new mums and explain why formula milk is better for the baby. There is even well documented evidence that health professionals including midwives and doctors receive gifts from formula milk companies if they promote and sell formula milk. In an article by The Guardian, Baby Health Crisis In Indonesia As Formula Companies Push Products  they explain how this happens

But there is a looming influence, far greater than personal choice [to breastfeed]: that of the formula companies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has codes on corporate selling of formula that go back to 1981. But this is big business for big companies – two thirds of their growth comes from Asia-Pacific. The Indonesia market is worth $1.1bn (£708m).

This is an example of how it works. Sari Husada, a subsidiary of Danone, has sales reps that build relationships with midwives. Up until 2011, it was purely financial – they would get a village midwife to sign up to a contract, which would involve selling a certain number of boxes of formula per month. Their rewards were pretty small – between 1m(£65) and 3m rupiah a year, depending on the number of deliveries the midwife’s practice had, and how much formula they sold. This is in manifest breach of the WHO codes, as well as Indonesian regulations, which expressly ban free samples, as well as direct marketing to healthcare workers or new mothers.

According to Danone, this no longer happens, and has been replaced by a scheme which runs training for midwives. As Usman Tasya, who worked for a subcontractor to whom Sari Husada outsourced its sales, explained: “Basically, what changed was the price. Previously, they were given cash. Post 2012, they were given gifts in kind, once they’d signed a contract.”

.Marketing representatives and health professionals explain how formula milk has loads of different vitamins and nutrients and can provide more nourishment for the baby than breast milk can. Now we know this is not true. But for many uneducated Indonesian women they don’t hear any other opinion and they don’t have the ability or resources to research this for themselves. Frequently newborns won’t even receive the colostrum (which kick-starts their immune system) from their mothers because they are put on formula milk straight away. In the whole of Jakarta, which has a population of around 25 million people, there is only one hospital that will not allow formula milk companies into their ward and promote that “breast is best”. My friend had her baby there while I was living in Jakarta and I was impressed to see posters up of mums breast feeding their babies and encouraging nurses who would help mum and bub to learn the art of breast feeding. But this is only one hospital in a country of 250 million people.

clean water

Most people in developing countries do not have access to clean water.
Photo credit: (https://www.facebook.com/TheTrueLemon)

Now to add to this problem further in poor, under-developed countries like Indonesia an overwhelming majority of people do not have access to clean drinking water. Therefore, formula milk is frequently mixed with dirty water resulting in newborns and babies getting diarrhoea  Diarrhoea is one of the leading cause of death in children in the developing world. One way to prevent this would have been for the mother to breast feed. Because of the known health benefits of breast milk Save the Children also state “If all babies were breastfed within the first hour of life, 830,000 children’s lives would be saved every year.”

Many families also find formula milk costly. Marketing representatives give out free samples or get baby onto formula milk before they have even left the hospital which means most women’s breast milk dries up, leaving them dependent on formula milk.

This is not a problem that only Indonesia faces. Sadly this has been happening since the late 1970s and continues to happen today throughout Africa and Asia. Breast milk has shown to lessen the rates of HIV infection between mum and bub yet millions of poor, HIV infected parents in Africa have been convinced that their babies need formula milk.

Finally, I have had mum’s tell me (in Australia) that formula milk is not cows milk. Well it is. I have no idea where this understanding has come from. Most formula milk is cow’s milk and has a huge toll on the environment. For more information on what is in formula milk check out this link. Formula milk requires feeding and milking cows, dehydrating the milk, adding vitamins and nutrients and sweetening it. As formula milk has to try to imitate breast milk it is sweetened with corn syrup. Corn Syrup is the same as feeding your baby sugar. So for all those mums out there who have told me that they are not going to give their babies sugar but are formula feeding their babies, they are already giving them sugar! Corn syrup has been linked to the dramatic rise in obesity and other health issues in the western world. To read more about why corn syrup is bad for our us read here.  After all this processing formula milk is then packaged and shipped around the world.

On the other hand a mother’s breasts just make the milk from the food they put in their mouths, with zero factory processing and transporting. It is always sanitized and safe for baby to drink and is packed full of nutrients and continues to increase babies immunity to illnesses and diseases.

So Breast Feeding might suck (as I wrote in my last blog post) but it is certainly best for the baby and does not support companies such as Nestle and Danone. When I was having such a terrible time breast feeding and friends and family would tell me that it is ok for me to switch to formula, I would get so angry. It’s not ok! I never ever want to support companies who prey on the poor and vulnerable in developing countries and only add to health problems. Instead, I wish more people had said to me, yes it sucks, but it gets better and BREAST IS BEST!

To read more about formula milk companies in developing countries:

11

Breastfeeding Sucks!

breast feeding (source: www.rockabyebabyhire.com.au )

breast feeding (photo credit: http://www.rockabyebabyhire.com.au)

Pardon the pun, but breastfeeding sucks. I never thought I would feel this way and of course I firmly believe that breast is best. But man it has been a long and hard journey! I had a friend warn me that breastfeeding can take quite a while to get the hang of and be quite painful! Well it was!

The day after I had given birth to our little girl I had some help from the midwife to express some colostrum and syringe feed her. This was partly to do with the fact that my nipples were already starting to crack and they just wanted to make sure that something was coming out of my boobies. Well there was loads! The midwife was shocked, in a couple of minutes we had filled two syringes. She then said to me you won’t have any trouble with your milk supply. She wasn’t wrong.

Day four after the birth my milk came in and there was a tonne of it! So much that I was engorged and seriously uncomfortable. It was Christmas Eve and I had to rush into Target and purchase a breast pump. Well actually there was no rushing, four days after a natural birth – I have never walked so slowly through Target in my life!

The only way I could deal with all this milk was to express. While my little girl was feeding I hand pumped 80mls off my right breast. There was no way she was able to consume all the milk I had. At that stage she was probably only drinking 20mls each feed.

After numerous visits to lactations consultants I was always reassured that my milk supply would die down. Well it hasn’t. My little girl is now four months old and I still get engorged daily. Quite frankly I have an oversupply of milk and back in the day I would have made a great wet nurse! Midwives and other mothers have frequently told me that oversupply is better than not having enough. But seriously its been tough!

The future King Louis XIV as an infant with hi...

The future King Louis XIV as an infant with his wet nurse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About a week and a half into breastfeeding I had mashed up, bleeding nipples (because of the engorgement it was always difficult for my little one to get her mouth on my nipple) and mastitis! Mastitis sucks! The fever that accompanies a blocked milk duct is crazy. I quickly got onto it and my GP gave me anti-biotics. It cleared up within a couple of days and was fine. However, the anti-biotics then gave me thrush in my breasts! This was even worse. The pain was excruciating.

After all this pain I decided I would express and bottle feed her for a couple of days to get over all the infections and give my mashed up nipples a rest. What a relief! I expressed each feed and fed her with the bottle. It helped immensely, otherwise I would be dreading each feed.

Some how we got through it all and we now manage to breastfeed pretty comfortably. But it sucked! It took a good 10 weeks to be pain free. And I hate how the ABA says that if breastfeeding hurts then you’re not doing it right! Because I can tell you now breastfeeding was extremely painful for me! Many people suggested that I put her on formula, but I just couldn’t be bothered with sterilizing bottles and always having to take formula with me. Breastfeeding seemed to be the most convenient solution. Also with my huge oversupply of milk it seemed stupid to then have to go and pay for a processed product.

I preserved and now its fine. But I am not one of those mothers who thinks breastfeeding is this wonderful bonding experience  I see it as a practical and natural solution and I will be happy to give it up when the time comes.

What has been your experience of breastfeeding?

0

Routine and Sleeping Through…or Not

Parenting has been a whole new ball game. And as I become more and more accustomed to it I realise that it is deeply cultural, personal and controversial. The choices we make shape who our children become and nobody wants to get it wrong so everyone is adamant that they are getting it right.clock watching (photo credit: http://the-little-leaf.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/baby-routines-empowerment-or-placebo.html)

I have decided to take the stance that I will get it wrong and probably will make many mistakes, but I will give it my best shot. My parenting attitude so far has been to go with the flow. I have demand fed our little girl. I pay no attention to the clock and what time it is, whether she should be asleep now or breastfed now. Instead I have tried to learn to just read her body language and act accordingly.

Many of my friends have told me that I must make her have a routine, because babies love routines. Perhaps its my character but I can’t be bothered with routines. I read somewhere on the net that when babies are left to their own devices they will naturally form a sleep, play, eat routine. This is what I have also observed. Our little girl generally eats, sleeps and plays at the same times each day. However, as he continues to grow so quickly and change so much I have noticed that her routine can change just as quickly. Now that she is 4 months old she needs more play time, which for a while, disrupted her sleep pattern.

Sleeping baby

Sleeping baby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And to tell you the truth she doesn’t sleep through the night, whether this is because of the choices I have made or because she needs to be constantly fed, I don’t know. However, I have noticed that every time she wakes up in the night she is starving and will guzzle down her milk. I am extremely jealous of the mothers in my mothers group whose babies are sleeping through. But to get them to this stage they have had to refuse to feed them at night, instead they have spent half an hour or more trying to settle them. And I want to be brutally honest here and say that their kids look scrawny! They look like they need more of their mothers milk.

What do you think is important? Routine or no routine? What has worked for you? Does your baby sleep through?

1

Tummy Sleeping

 

From day one it seemed that our little girl did not want to sleep on her back. Every time I went to check on her I found her lying on her side and sucking her fingers. I would swaddle her, place her on her back and then leave the room. To only find her half an hour later free of the wrap and lying on her side. The Maternal Child Health Nurse told me not to let her sleep on her side. What was I to do? She naturally rolled that way.baby sleeping on side

 

Our daughter loved sleeping on our chests. Sometimes it was the only way I could get any shut-eye. But it was never a good, deep sleep. I would always be worried that I would roll over and forget that she was there and crush her. Or that she would roll off me.

 

One night (after hardly any sleep) it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps she liked sleeping on our chests (not just because she was close to us and could hear a heart beat) but because she liked sleeping on her tummy. With such a revelation I did what all parents are told not do, with babe in my arms I crept over to her cradle and gently placed her on her tummy! Hello four hours of sleep! I was so shocked that she slept so well. I felt terrible. So I started trawling the internet for information that would say – tummy sleeping is not all that bad.baby

 

There wasn’t much information on this. Instead there was only information stating how sleeping babies on their backs had halved the cases of SIDS. As I kept looking I started to find websites that had investigated into whether or not parents were secretly sleeping babies on their tummies. And guess what there is a whole hoard of parents out there, secretly placing their babies on their tummies and successfully getting a few more hours sleep. This made me think that even though the “Backs to Sleep” campaign swears that hey have had loads of success in reducing the rates of SIDS deaths they have not accounted for all the parents who secretly sleep their babies on their tummies.  BabyCentre.com was able to conduct and online anonymous study to see how many of their readers were sleeping their babies on their tummies and the results were a whopping 38%. This made me think that there are a lot of other mums out there doing the same thing as me. The New York Times recently put out an article addressing this topic. Recently a friend confessed to me that she sleeps her little one on her tummy and so do six of her girlfriends.

 

Further more I was slept on my tummy. So were my four brothers and sisters. And so were my husband’s siblings. If we talk to our parents and grandparents we would find out that new parents were told to only sleep their babies on their tummies or sides.

 

What does this say about tummy sleeping? Like most things to do with parenting I believe it is just a fad and will change as the times change. As one grandparent said on one forum, smoking cigarettes used to be encouraged for pregnant women to help them relax.

 

However, I think the main point is that people have been having children for centuries and there is a wealth of knowledge that we choose to ignore and instead we choose to listen to “experts.” Who could easily be childless men.

 

My little one is now four months old and has been sleeping on her tummy the entire time. She has been fine. And the results have been that she sleeps well, has great neck control, started rolling extremely early, loves tummy time, does not have a flat spot (which has increasingly become a problem as parents have been sleeping their babies on their backs) is sitting up by herself and is already getting ready to crawl.tummy-time---gray-shirt---blue-eyed-girl

 

Let me know your thoughts? Do you secretly sleep your little one on their tummy? Are you scared to death to try because of all the campaigns on there that say backs are for sleeping and tummies are for play time? Do you think it is just a fad, that will change in the years to come?

 

Is Putting Baby to Bed Face-Down Really So Terrible?

Let Sleeping Babies Lie…On Their Bellies?

Molding Prevention – Newborn – Baby Care (everydayfamily.com)