Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why I Delay Solids

I've always knew breastfeeding was best for a baby.  Growing up everyone I knew breastfed their baby.  I knew it was what I was going to do for my babies as well.  I think knowing that caused me to not read up on breastfeeding and learn the many, many benefits of it. 

With my first baby I delayed solid food until she was 7 1/2 months old.  My second was 7 months old.  This time around I would like to make it to at least 9 months and maybe even 12 months before giving him any solids. 

Why?  I did some reading and this is what I found out.

Food Allergies.  The longer a baby is only exposed to human milk he is avoiding foreign proteins that may cause an allergic reaction.   Babies are born with a very immature digestive system.  Giving them solids too early can make spitting up, constipation or diarrhea more common and also put a strain on their little systems.

Breastfed babies are hardly ever overweight and those that are is most often caused by the early introduction of solids (4-6 months).  They are less likely to get sick and when they are sick it is not as bad and doesn't last as long as non-breastfed babies.
Breast milk is 80% water.  As long as baby can nurse whenever he wants to and as long or short as he wants to there is no need to give anything else, even water.  This is the reason I do not schedule my babies.  I let them tell me when they are hungry.  Sometimes this means they only ate for 1-2 minutes.  Were they hungry then?  Maybe not, but they needed a little drink! 
A healthy infant is born with a store of iron that can last 6-12 months.  It is true that there is not much iron in breastmilk but the little there is, is absorbed at a rate of 49% compared to the 4% that is in formula and cereals.  Breastfed babies do not lose iron through their bowels formula fed babies do.

Breastmilk has many, many immune factors in it (some articles I read say 37 and others say 50+).  The greatest immunity a baby can get is when they are exclusively breastfed.  Once baby is exposed to anything other than breastmilk (even sugar water) 17 immunity factors are destroyed by the E. coli bacteria that are introduced into their gut, and can never be restored.

The digestive juice for carbohydrates, doesn't appear until  baby's 6-8th month, and hydrochloric acid - used to digest most protein - doesn't even appear in the stomach until the end of the seventh month and doesn't reach a peak until the eighteenth month. 
This is very interesting for me because I lack hydrochloric acid.  I was a formula fed baby and I have never been able to eat beef.  As a child when I was fed beef, I would throw it up soon after eating it.  Is there a connection?  I don't know.

I know that breastfeeding doesn't come easy for a lot of women and for some it is not possible.  I am thankful that I have been able to breastfeed all 3 of my children.  Sure we had a rough couple of weeks with the sore nipples and engorgement so bad that I could have fed a neighborhood of babies (yeah, were talking about so much milk that is was up to my neck and under my arms!).

But my biggest challenge came with this last baby.  Little did I know that he was born posterior  tongue-tied, but I didn't find this out until he was 7 almost 8 weeks old.  Due to this he was unable to latch on correctly and had a hard time staying latched. (I didn't understand why I was having a hard time, after all he was my 3rd baby and I had already spent 32 months of my life breastfeeding my other babies.)  So what happened?  You guessed it, he cracked my nipples pretty badly and viola, an entrance for bacteria to set up home.  The mastitis was so bad that it required 4 rounds of antibiotics and 1-24 hour hospital stay for IV abx. 
While I was on so many abx I struggled if I should keep breastfeeding or temporally switch to formula.  The abx really messed with my baby and it led to colic, reflux and digestive problems.  In the end I kept with the breastfeeding but gave him many probiotics. 

Now at almost 7 1/2 months old he is exclusively breastfed and by that I also mean no bottles.  I am his one and only food source.  It's the sweetest thing when my hungry baby starts looking for food in my neck!   It makes me feel so good to know I am feeding my baby how God planned it.  Yes, it does get hard night after night after night of being the one up to feed him, but this is my calling and it makes my happy :). 

Oh and did I mention that it uses more calories to make breastmilk than it does to grow a baby?!!  I need 3,500 calories a day.  This means I can eat what I want, when I want and as much as I want (ok - still within reason) - and at the same time I'm losing weight!!!  Can't beat that :)


Larissa said...

Are you sure about the 3500 calorie thing? When you are exclusively nursing you are supposed to add 500 calories to your diet. According to your height and weight - to maintain - are you supposed to be eating 3000 a day?
According to my weight and height to maintain my weight, I would need to eat 1800 calories a day ... to lose a pound a week, I'd need to eat 1300. So, if I were nursing right now, to lose, I would need to consume 1800 a day.

I agree whole-heartedly about delaying solids. I waited until my babies were about 9 months old - and it's the best thing I've ever done. It is a sweet relationship and it's by far the healthiest thing you can do! I wrote a post like this one on my blog around the time I was introducing solids to Rosalie. I would venture to say that most people don't agree with it. Besides you, I only know one other person who delayed solids! Crazy!

Janet said...

Maybe I am off on that number, Larissa. I just did some more looking and it seems you are right. I read that number somewhere and now I can't find it. What I did just do is to put my height, weight and age into a BMI calculator and I learned that my BMI is 19.2 and that puts my weight in the 6th percentile for height!

I'm not counting calories right now, but I do know that I eat a LOT of food all day long and then there are nights I go to bed and my stomach is growling! I am sure that I need more than the 500 caloires I was reading online. I do have a very high metabolism.

Even with all this eating I've lost all the pregnancy weight and then some..... I wish I could figure out how to get rid of the extra skin from my big baby belly!

Larissa said...

Unfortunately - I don't think there is anything you can do about it now. When I lost a ton of weight after having Jonathan - it came off so fast, that I had that extra skin on my belly as well. I have a friend who is a fitness guru who told me that the only way you can avoid the extra skin is to exercise while you are losing and tone while you are losing. Well - it was too late for that for me - I'd already lost the weight and had the hanging skin!
I am working on getting back down to my pre-Rosalie weight. She's past 2 years old, and I still haven't lost it all. I am working on getting there, though.

Anonymous said...

Hi Larissa,

I'm not sure about Janet's number, but I had to consume close to 3500 calories per day after my daughter hit 6 months. I lost a lot of weight and even got down below my hyperemesis weight. After consulting with a nutritionist that my doctor referred me to, we came up with that number.

For me, the lost weight was becoming a health issue. Obviously one I could deal with by eating, but a health issue nonetheless.

We delayed solids until 8 months with DD1 based on recommendations from KellyMom and the WHO. I'm very glad that we did.

Great article Janet! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering how big your babies were born. My two boys were both 9pound and never lost weight, they just keep getting bigger. I have just started to introduce solids and my son is 5months and 9 1/2kg. I am having trouble keeping up. I know you said once the damage of introducing solids is done You can't go back but I've been wondering if I made the right decision. My first has only just started to be in normal weight range and his two, he has always been in the 95th percentile. Did you have any problems when actually introducing food, with fussiness and intolerance? I have just seen people wait and then have a really hard time.

Janet said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog!

My babies were: 7lb 9oz(girl), 9 pounds 1ounce(boy) and 9 pounds 13 ounces(boy).

All my babies gained weight and my boys started high in the %tile, but then dropped into a normal range and then in the low range.

My first 2 I introduced solids about 7 1/2 months. It was only with my 3rd that I waiting longer and it was for 2 reasons.

I had a very severe case of mastitis that required 4 rounds of antibiotics, including a hospital stay for IV abx. I nursed my baby though all of this and he suffered greatly from the effects of abx in his tender guts. By giving him probiotics I hoped to rebuild the healthy bactiera needed.
During this time, I was reading about dealying soilds and learned that it was probably more normal to wait until closer to 1 year before introducing soilds. I liked that idea especially since our troubles early on and that my first son had food allergies (he has since outgrown).

I ended up trying solids about 10 1/2 months with him and he wasn't interested due to an over active gage reflux. So I waited but would give him different baby crackers (like mum mums) so he could explore on his own.

Closer to a year I feared I might have a picky eater (not the case with my first 2). He would eat some baby foods, but not others. Then I tried hotdogs and fish and he loved them. It came slowly at first then wham! He started eating mostly everything (we still struggle with veggies, but my family has a history of being very picker eaters). He just wanted real food and not baby food. He has shown no signs of food allergies.

Even now at 7, 5 and 18 months my kids are low in the weight range but high in the hieght range. They are tall and lean, healthy kids.

Recently I read that when a baby learns to sit up (somewhere around 6-7 months) on their own, that it is a sign their guts have sealed and are ready for introduction of solid foods.
Every Mom needs to make the choice that she thinks is best for her baby.

I hope my experience has helped you some in your decision.

S,D&H said...

Was happy to find your blog while I was researching delaying solids online. I delayed solids with my son until 10m- his diet was exclusively BM. My biggest reason for doing this was a history of good allergies and intolerances in my family and also because I believe BM is by far the best nutrition. He wasn't really too interested in solids until quite sometime after 12m- he is now 2.5years. My daughter is now 6m & I plan to delay solids with her as well. I found friends' and families' disapproving comments and opinions on my decision to delay solids difficult at times and I have never met anyone else who has done this so really enjoyed reading your blog- thanks!

Janet said...

Sorry in the late posting of your comment - I hardly have the time to check this blog, let alone post anymore.
I'm glad you found my post encouraging. It's hard for parents today to try anything that goes against the mainstream way, and often we don't get the encouragment and support we need.

I, too, had to deal with the unaproving comments from family and friends, but in the end, I did what I thought was best for by baby. I am glad that I did. Just as I am sure you are. I don't know if the delayed solids helped, but he has no food allergies like his brother has. For which I am thankful.
He turned 2 on 10/6 and I weaned him that week. Sad to end that relationship as it is a sure sign my "baby" is no longer a baby.