Baby Feeding: Breasts, Bottles, & Beyond (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
When do you start introducing solids?

DOUGLAS:
You can start introducing solids any time between four to six months. Basically, you start to look for signs that your baby may be looking for a little extra food than breast milk alone. At that point you start offering an iron-fortified rice or barley infant cereal that has been mixed with breast milk or formula. Initially you are offering very small quantities, something like 2 to 3 teaspoons twice daily. As your baby masters the mechanics in eating and swallowing solid foods, you then move on to other foods.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My baby doesn't seem to burp with solids the way she did with breast milk (even then she was never a big burper, but now with solids she burps even less). Is that normal?

DOUGLAS:
This is very normal, and may have as much to do with the texture of the food as with the fact that your baby is getting older and may be mastering the art of self-burping. She may be learning how to get those burp bubbles out on her own. But don't worry, mum. She still needs you for 10 million other things.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My baby is 7 months old and I introduced solids (rice cereal, sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, and pears so far) to her at 6 months. Prior to that she was exclusively breastfed. She only had a stool every five days while breastfeeding and they were very soft and liquidy. Now she has a stool sometimes twice a day and they are hard, like a normal stool. Is that right? Someone told me that the stool should still be soft while baby is under a year but it seems to me that the hard stool makes sense with the solid food.

DOUGLAS:
This sounds totally within the range of normal to me. Baby stools do tend to change in color, texture, and dare I say it, odor, too, once they start eating solid food. So what you're describing sounds like that normal transition to me. I would only become concerned if the baby's stools were mucousy, blood-streaked, or otherwise highly abnormal in appearance, but what you are describing sounds like a normal infant stool.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I know you start solids with rice cereal, but is there any recommended order for introducing fruits and vegetables? If so, what is it?

DOUGLAS:
I have never heard of any such order, other than it's probably a good idea to introduce vegetables before fruits; the reason being a baby who develops a strong preference for sweet fruits may be less likely to want to eat vegetables.

"When you consider how little a bunch of bananas cost compared with a tiny jar of baby banana food, you can see the cost savings. You also get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from making the baby food."

MEMBER QUESTION:
If a baby is eating solids and still breastfeeding, do they need solids three times a day or is two times a day OK? Is breast milk their main source of nutrition?

DOUGLAS:
Breast milk will continue to be a baby's main source of nutrition for quite some time. As I noted earlier, the initial quantities of infant cereal are 2 to 3 teaspoons, so what we are doing initially is familiarizing a baby with the mechanics of eating. A baby could not thrive on these small quantities of solid food. It's up to you whether you offer solid foods two or three times a day. This may simply be a matter of your family's lifestyle. For example, whether you sit down and have breakfast in the morning or if it's more convenient to breastfeed at that time of day and offer solids at another time of day.

As your baby gets older, you baby will switch to a three-meal-a-day program, and as your toddler gets older, you'll introduce snacks, too. But initially we're just giving your baby the chance to practice eating, so it doesn't matter of your baby is eating two or three times a day.

MEMBER QUESTION:
There has been lots of debate about drinking -two to three glasses of wine and if that gets to your baby or not while breastfeeding. What is your opinion? How does what mom eats affect the breast milk?

DOUGLAS:
I have read a lot of stuff on this in recent years, and I think it is a really good idea to be cautious about consuming alcohol while you are breastfeeding. This issue has only been spotlighted in the last few years, which is surprising given how much attention has been given to alcohol on the developing fetus.

What I suggest is either you avoid alcohol entirely, or limit the drinks you consume, or you consider the timing of the consumption of drinks, so maybe you are having a glass of wine right after finishing a feeding so it has the maximum time to leave your system. However, I am not an expert on lactation and alcohol consumption, so I would suggest you ask a lactation consultant what they suggest and go by those recommendations. I simply would stress this is one of those situations where moderation is definitely in order.

MODERATOR:
We are almost out of time. Ann, do you have any final words for us?

DOUGLAS:
Thank you, first of all, for your great comments and questions today. I always love hearing what people have to say. My comment today: get help with any breastfeeding problems right away. What starts out small can snowball, so you want to get the information and support as soon as possible. Fortunately, the majority of breastfeeding situations work out extremely well, but when there is a problem it can be extremely frustrating for the mother and the baby. This is when some serious support is definitely in order.

MODERATOR:
Thanks to Ann Douglas for sharing her expertise and experience with us. For more information, please read her book, The Mother of All Baby Books, for tips on all aspects of parenting during the first year.



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