When babies are born, new parents generally have an endless onslaught of questions that just keep coming. Most of the time it’s because as soon as they get one issue figured out, another springs into action. Babies are nothing if not unpredictable. No parents expect that their baby will be the one to react to their formula or have a hard time digesting solids. In many cases, it can be prevented. Read on to find out how.
Breast Milk 101
When a baby is born, it instinctively knows how to find food. As amazing as the human body is, the mother’s body knows instinctively how to create that food. It is the biological norm to breastfeed our babies, and fortunately most women are able to do it. According to Parenting, only about two percent of mothers are truly unable to breastfeed. This is often due to glandular issues in the breast that prevents the mother from being able to produce breast milk.
There is no way to overfeed a newborn with breast milk. Unlike adults who have been manipulated by flavors and marketing, babies don’t eat beyond when they are full. Once they feel satisfied, they stop nursing. In addition, breast milk is created only with the nutrition that a baby needs to continue growing and developing. There are no excess calories. There is no way to overindulge on breast milk.
Babies who receive formula need to be fed on more of a schedule than breastfed babies do. Formula is harder for the baby’s body to digest. For this reason, the baby’s body takes longer to do its job. While breastfed babies eat every two to three hours, formula fed babies eat closer to every three and a half to four hours.
Early on, it is easy to overfeed a formula fed baby. The food that is being given isn’t specifically created for the baby’s body. It was created for the average infant. If baby requires more or less food than the average bottle of formula houses, there could be trouble.
Signs There May Be a Problem
There are issues that some parents will encounter with their little ones. For example, babies who start vomiting after they eat might have gastrointestinal problems that need to be evaluated. They may also have an allergy or intolerance to something in their food. If they are breastfed, they could be reacting to something in Mom’s diet. If they are formula fed, it might be time to switch to a different kind of formula.
While soy is usually the option that most doctors refer parents to when milk-based formulas cause digestive problems in their babies, soy isn’t terribly well-tolerated by many babies, either. In addition, it is largely a genetically modified crop. Per Soyatech, around 98 percent of all soy in the United States is from GMO crops. It is also estrogenic and a known endocrine disruptor. For parents who take issue with soy or those who just want their baby to have the best formula they can possibly drink, goat’s milk is actually the preferable option. Goat’s milk is easily digested by babies because it is biologically the closest milk next to human milk. Many parents opt for this formula in the first place if they aren’t relying on breast milk, strictly out of the belief that humans were not made to consume the milk of other animals.
Other signs of allergy or intolerance include:
- Gas after eating
- Failure to finish bottles
Solids should be introduced before the baby is weaned from milk. Sometimes parents believe the two should happen at the same time, but food is not introduced to take the place of milk. In fact, breastfed babies can be exclusively breastfed for the first year with no real concern for food at all. Breast milk should always remain their primary source of nutrition. Formula-fed babies need a little more nutrition, and food nutrients are favorable over formula, but food still doesn’t need to be pushed on them.
The World Health Organization recommends that solid foods never be introduced before six months of age. They also advocate for breastfeeding until at least two years old — a trend that is slow to rise in the United States.
Where solids are concerned, babies can definitely be overfed. Food should never be forced on infants, even if they seem like they aren’t eating for many days. If this occurs in a child that normally eats well, teething may be something to look at. Otherwise, a trip to the doctor may be warranted. But in babies who are still in the early months of learning how to eat solids, it’s completely normal to go several days without interest in food. Many babies will spend months preferring to play in the food their parents put before them rather than eat it.
Infant cereals are of particular concern. They have been pushed on babies as early as one or two months old, even sometimes by their pediatricians. This is alarming given that the Food and Drug Administration has warned strongly against the use of these cereals, noting that the rice cereal in particular contains arsenic. In addition, these synthetic foods are void of nutrition. In other words, they add absolutely nothing to your baby’s body except for fullness. Unfortunately, that is the very reason some parents use it — to keep babies fuller longer so they sleep better. But the product does nothing more than take up space in their bellies and potentially cause gut injuries since babies don’t produce amylase — the digestive enzyme needed to digest grains — until their molars are fully in.
When you are planning to wean your little one from the breast or bottle, he may start to seek more food. With less formula or breast milk in the diet, baby might be more interested in eating than playing. Nonetheless, this isn’t a reason in and of itself to wean. Babies need breast milk or formula for at least the first year of life. Babies who continue to be breastfed after one year still don’t need as much food as previously formula fed babies will. Both are solid options, but babies who move on from formula at the start of their first year should seek more nutrition through food than liquids.