First, a tiny celebration. My Little Man turned 6 months old last week! He is quickly loosing that sweet newborn squishiness. He is becoming his own (not so) little, noisy, happy guy. O is filled with wanderlust and exploring new things. He is siting up for longer periods of time. He said his first word, “Lyla”; his big sisters name. He loves yelling at the cat, watching my Littles play, bouncing in his bouncer, scooting everywhere, laughing.. And always, Momma snuggles and Milkies. However, the biggest milestone O has reached this week is starting solids.
One of the most exciting parts for me as his mother is introducing him to starting solids.
Not to step on any toes or start any mommy wars, but one of my pet peeves as a childcare professional is hearing about infants being given cereals or baby food too soon. Not all doctors are up to date with the latest research. For example, my doctor told my husband and I that there are really no extra benefits to extended breastfeeding with my daughter. There is a lot of research that supports delaying solids with infants, backed up by many leading health organizations, worldwide. If your doctor does recommend beginning your infant before six months, I encourage you to discuss the research with him or her before making a final decision about starting solids.
When you know better, you do better.
3 Reasons to Delay Introducing Solids
- Open Gut
From Birth to about 6 months of age, infants have what is referred to as an open gut. This allows whole proteins and pathogens to be able to enter your infants bloodstream easily. That is wonderful news for breastfed babies! Unfortunately, it is also the same reason why you should not start solids before 6 months. Open gut, when introduced to solid foods, allows allergy inducing proteins and disease causing pathogens to move into the bloodstream. That is why it is so important to only breast (or bottle) feed the first 6 months. Breast milk helps to coat the babies digestive system, which aids in preventing illnesses and allergies as your baby grows.
- Developmentally More Prepared
According to Kelly Mom, baby must meet these certain developmental milestones to begin starting solids.
- Sit up well without support.
- Lose the tongue-thrust reflex which pushes food back out of their mouth.
- Be ready and willing to chew.
- Begin developing a “pincer” grasp. (Essential for baby led weaning.)
- Be eager to participate in mealtime, shown grabbing food and trying to put it in his mouth.
- Show an increased desire to nurse unrelated to any illnesses, teething pains, or growth spurts.
Some of these milestones, particularly number 6, can be hard to identify. That is why it is important to look at all the milestones as a whole. This includes your baby reaching 6 months of age.
- Nutritional Needs are Met through Breastmilk
There are several adages that help exhausted nursing mothers remember tips and tricks. “Breast is best”, “nipple to nose” (for latch), and “food before one is just for fun.” Breast milk truly is a perfect food for babies, particularly those under six months. For the first six months, babies dietary and nutritional needs are met through breast milk (or formula), there is no need for supplementing it with solids. The World Health Organization says
Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants… A recent review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants
I’ve heard a lot of moms say “well my baby was just so hungry,” but the fact is, ounce for ounce, breast milk is more calorie rich than solid foods.
We are so excited to start solids this month! Knowing that my breast milk has supplied Little Man with his building blocks of nutrition before starting solids is empowering! When have you decided to start solids with your little one? What fueled that decision?
Some great reputable sources supporting delaying starting solids:
world health organization
American Academy of Pediatrics
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