Thursday, April 22, 2010

But you turned out okay!

I am a child of the 70's. My mom loved me lots and did everything in her power to take the absolute best care of me (and my brother). She was educated on infant and child development and followed the advice given to her by professionals. I'm now a 21st Century parent. I too love my children and am doing everything in my power to take the absolute best care of them. I too educate myself on infant and child development and follow the advice given to my by professionals. So what's the difference? The difference is that we have been given different advice.
My mom raised us in a time when long term breastfeeding was not an encouraged practice. Bottles and formula were the thing. Parents were told to give their babies cereal at a few weeks old as it would help fill them up and they would sleep longer.
I'm raising my kids at a time where long term breastfeeding is recommended and encouraged. The formulas that we give our babies are more scientifically designed and much healthier for our babies. We are told to hold off on all solids for the first 6 months (even that advice changed since my oldest was an infant, 6 years ago the recommendation was 4-6 months). So what's the difference? About 30 years of research. So what's the problem? Many grandmothers, Aunties and well intentioned older ladies love these babies too and want to help you out. They do what women do best, give advice (notice I didn't say meddle or interfere?). The problem is the advice they have is 30 years out of date and like most women, many will get incensed at the idea that they could be wrong about something, often responding, "well I did that with you and you turned out okay!" (or your husband, or whoever). There is a very kind way to deal with this. My favorite comes from a letter I found from Dr. Sears:

Attention all Grandmothers:

Much has been learned over the past thirty years about infant nutrition and development. Many practices that were common three decades ago are now known to be unhealthy, maybe even dangerous to a young infant.

I know that the experts told you to start feeding your babies cereal after a few weeks of life; and you followed their advice because you loved your children. Now we know that an infant's gut is not ready for solid foods until around six months of age. If you start a food too early, he is much more likely to become allergic to it. This can result in damage to the intestines, weight loss, blood in the stool, and malnutrition. You might argue, "Well, my kids started solid foods at three weeks, and they turned out just fine." The truth is, very few adults have perfectly working digestive tracts. Just look at all the commercials for heartburn remedies and stool softeners... "ever feel gassy and bloated after a meal?"

Here is what the experts are saying now:

* Breastfeed for at least one year.
* Start cereal and other solids after six months of age.

Grammy, please let your daughters follow this advice, because they love your grandchildren as much as you do.
Dr. Jim

I love it. Perfectly worded, and by an expert in infant and child development. Remember these lovely ladies are not trying to frustrate you, they are trying to love your kids. You are the mom now. Make your wishes known (politely, we're not trying to start WW3 in the family) about feeding your baby, especially if they are going to be the baby's caretakers once in a while, and be ready to back yourself up with facts. It's quite possible that the reason we are seeing more people our age with bowel issues like Crohn's disease relates back to incorrect infant feeding when we were infants. Just be ready for both responses. Hopefully all will be well and you'll be greeted with understanding. But you also need to be ready for the opposite. It's okay to disagree here, but you are the parent, you are the one who is the key decision maker here. Be polite but firm. Look at all the other advice parents were given 30 years ago that doesn't hold true today:
-babies were put on their tummies to sleep (My sister in law was putting her baby on her tummy to sleep, because that's what she knew to do...until her pediatrician told her that 2 babies in the area had died recently from SIDS who were sleeping on their tummies.)
-car seats and seat belts were optional (I actually remember when wearing a seat belt became law in my province. I can't even imagine not wearing a seat belt today, have you ever walked into a room dealing with automobile trauma? My mom has, she was an OR RN for over 30 years, it ain't pretty.)
-women were allowed to smoke and drink during pregnancy (Have you ever met a child with FAS or FAE? I have. I've taught a few in my career, a very preventable diagnosis that these children will have to live with for the rest of their lives.)
Really, we all have the same interest in mind. We love these children passionately and want the best for them, sometimes we just need to keep ourselves and the other around us educated about what the best is.


  1. Some of the changes are also because the environment is different now than it was 30 years ago. For whatever reason, food allergies are running rampant, and scientists now believe that holding off food until 6 months may help lessen the occurrence of food allergies.

  2. Lovely post with some really great information. I often wonder what things will change by the time I am a grandmother. What do we do now that we think is best practice only to learn decades later that it really wasn't.

  3. @Andrea: I try not to think about that, lol, it makes me paranoid! ;)




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