Julia's Guardian Angel Fund

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Changing My Plan of Attack...

On starting solids.

I'm a funny one. I get it in my head that things NEED to be a certain way and you need a tank to move me. I have been that way on when to begin feed infants solid food, among many other things.

Pretty benign topic, right? WRONG! Well, if you would have started the debate with me on when to begin solids when I only had Little Man (11 years ago), I would have told you 4-6 months. That is when he started.

Along came Little Woman who, at 5 months was introduced to rice cereal, vomited profusely (really - 20 times in one hour). We spent the next 3 hours in the emergency room hoping nothing serious was wrong. They couldn't find anything. The next day at the pediatrician's office (not my pediatrician, but the one who had room to see me), I was advise not to rush solids. Breastfeeding was the best food for a baby until baby is 6 months. They suggested she might just have an immature digestive system. When she hit 6 months, I tried again. Same thing happened. I was scared. Not only did I not give her the same cereal (I gave her oatmeal instead), but I was sure she was ready at 6 months but she was not. Again, the pediatrician advised "waiting a little longer."

The advice didn't stop there. I had joined up with the local La Leche League in my town. I had recently moved there and had little support. They became my support. They were proponents of not starting solids until the child could sit upright, reached for food and could chew. Hey - sounded great. The other benefits would be extended amenorrhea, less allergies, virgin gut which would mean no leaky gut. I was sold. I was so scared by my daughter's reaction to even the simplest of solids, that I became an advocate.

I also had doctors starting to tell me to wait on the introduction of solids after we found that Little Woman had an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts. I had myself convinced that had I waited to introduce foods, she might not have had this problem. But was it really the other way around? The more I read, I am convinced I was wrong - for my family. I'm not saying you are wrong if you delay the introduction of solids. With six kids, I'm convinced I can make a somewhat scientific statement or two on the introduction of solids for my family.

1) The one kid that had solids at 4 months spoke clearly at 12 months and followed all the normal speech development milestones. That one kid has one allergy.
2) The four that did not start solids at 6 months or beyond have either had significant speech delays and/or significant food allergies or asthma and eczema or both.

Again, please let me state, this is in regard to my family. Your mileage may vary and I am not saying you are bad if you make different choices.

Tangent coming on - hold on...I'm so tired of moms being judgmental toward other moms. Why can't we just be okay with letting parents take care of the children God gave them according to their own wisdom and understanding (and that of their support network around them) instead of bashing them either to their face or behind their backs? Don't think it happens? Have a child and see what happens! I'm stubborn and listened to the health care providers I had at the time for introduction of solids. But, heavens, this can be fodder for losing friendships apparently. Some people are vehemently opposed to "baby led weaning" and there are those that are opposed to putting rice cereal in a baby's bottle to get them to sleep through the night. Face it folks. You are not in that parent's situation. You are not there with that baby every minute of the day to know how they sleep, if they are crabby, what is going on in the parent's lives. We need to cut each other a little bit of slack and if we give advice, give it charitably and understand that it may not be accepted. Off my soapbox...

So I did some research. Wee One started solids right at 6 months and now I wish I had done it sooner. I was told by an allergist to delay solids because at the time I received that advice, it was thought that delayed solids introduction would help prevent the development of allergies. My new pediatrician (that I really like) suggested there is a tie to late introduction to food and speech delay. He also suggested that genetics play a bigger part to food allergies than the time at which the food is introduced.

According to my research, thoughts have changed again (sigh). But, my decision was not based on the articles below, although they are the current thinking. Some are articles with references to good medical studies and others are medical studies. It is based more on my findings above, which seem to be in line with the articles below.

A well referenced article about whether introduction of foods affects the risk of food allergies: Blame it on genes

From the AAP talking about introduction of solids not affecting weight gain:
No difference in weight gain

From the UK discussing introduction of solids on development of asthma and eczema:
No affect on development of asthma or eczema

Article debunking the dogma of delayed solids among the AP/NP crowd:
Is there an advantage to delaying solids?

So, if we were ever blessed with another child, I know now which direction I will go.

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