- Solids displace breastmilk in the baby's diet. The more solid food
a baby consumes the less breastmilk he consumes. Early introduction of
solids puts the baby at risk for premature weaning. An inferior food
has been substituted for a superior one, and partial weaning has begun.
- Breastfed babies are rarely obese, but when they are it is
most often related to the early addition of solid foods. This may be
because a younger baby is less able to communicate when he has had
enough, perhaps resulting in overfeeding.
- Breastfeeding provides some degree of birth control. It is
most effective, however, when the baby is exclusively breastfeeding -
no formula or water supplements and no solid foods. The addition of
these cuts down on the amount of time the baby spends at the breast,
therefore reducing the amount of stimulation necessary to inhibit
ovulation in the mother.
- A young baby still possesses the tongue-thrust reflex
which causes the food to be pushed out of the mouth rather than
swallowed. This coupled with the fact that most young babies are unable
to sit up alone results in feeding that is messier and more difficult.
Once a baby has reached six months of age the tongue-thrust reflex has
faded and baby can take a more active part in feeding time.
MYTHS CONCERNING THE ADDITION OF OTHER FOODS
"Babies who live in very warm climates need extra water, especially
during summertime, to quench their thirst and avoid dehydration."
Breastmilk is about 80% water. As long as a baby is allowed
unlimited and unrestricted access to his mother's breast, he does not
need additional water at least until he is six months of age and eating
solid food and then only in small amounts to aid with digestion. Giving
a baby water may cause him to feel full, thereby resulting in him
demanding to nurse less often and thus getting less of the milk that he
requires for proper nutrition and growth. Furthermore, some recent
studies have indicated that the kidneys of babies, especially very
young ones, are not mature enough to handle large amounts of water and
giving water may actually result in health risks for the baby.
Additionally the mother receives less stimulation when the baby is
given water supplements which may have an adverse effect on her milk
"Adding solid food to a baby's diet will help him go longer between breastfeedings and perhaps sleep through the night."
There is absolutely no correlation between the presence of solids in a
baby's diet - or the lack of it - and the baby beginning to sleep
through the night. If adding solid food to a young baby's diet results
in him going longer between feedings, it is probably because his
digestive system is having to work overtime due to the strain placed on
it by foods he is not physically mature enough to digest.
"Introducing solids ensures that a baby is not deprived of necessary iron in his diet."
Anemia is uncommon in the breastfed baby due to the following
reasons: 1) a healthy, full-term infant has ample iron stores at birth
to last him at least for the first six months of life, 2) although the
amount of iron in breastmilk is small, it is readily absorbed at a rate
of 49% compared to 4% of the iron in formula. This is due to the high
levels of lactose and vitamin C in human milk, which aid in the
absorption of iron, and 3) breastfed babies do not lose iron through
their bowels as do formula-fed infants, whose intestines develop
fissures from damage caused by cow's milk.
Written by Becky Flora-Waterman, BSed, IBCLC, RLC
Last revision: September 24, 2005
Source: La Leche League's, "The Breastfeeding Answer Book" (1997) by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Julie Stock, BA, IBCLC
More info at other sites:
Solid Info at KellyMom.com
Cereal in the Bottle?