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   Monday, March 20, 2006  

To feed or not to feed?

I should post about my weekend trip to my in-laws, but my mind has exhausted that topic as I keep replaying the whole thing in my mind. In short, it was not so good. The only thing I'll say is that from Friday evening until noon on Sunday, my mother-in-law held my son for all of twenty-five minutes.

Instead of that, lets talk feeding. My little man is five months old today. At his four month visit, the pediatrician said that most babies begin eating solid foods between four and six months of age. He said that while we might feel it's a little early we should begin thinking about it. He stated that he felt that premature babies should begin with cereals a little earlier than full term babies as they will exhaust their iron stores sooner (and my little one does have a tendency toward anemia that required one blood transfusion and even with supplemental iron he still drops down to the "borderline" area). His suggestion was that perhaps we should start cereal at five months.

I'm looking at him and I just can't see it. I'm guesstimating his weight at around 11 pounds. He sits well in his bumbo seat (and looks quite funny in it being that he's so small).

I guess I'm just having a hard time right now dealing with the dichotomy. He's five months old. He should be 2 1/2 months old. He sits with support, he holds his head up well, he loves to bear weight on his feet and does so for long periods of time. But he's also just begin responsive smiling. He doesn't coo or make much vocal noise other than crying. He's fascinated by mobiles and likes to hit one toy (a ball with a bell inside and Winnie the Pooh sitting on top), but otherwise doesn't play with any toys. He won't grasp a rattle (but he will shake his pacifier at you on occasion and yesterday he liked playing with his new spoon).

I just don't know how to do this part...this making decisions as to when to move forward. I know my pediatrician told us to think about it and in our discussions said he thought five months would be a good time for it, but now that the time has come...is it really the right time?

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  Comments about my post, "To feed or not to feed?":
You know if you try feeding him cereal, he'll let you know whether he's ready or not. If he turns his head or closes his mouth and refuses to let you put the spoon in, he's probably not ready and you should wait a couple more weeks before you try again. But if you try and he doesn't do those things, he may be very ready. Our daughter was 8 weeks early and I think we started the cereal about 4 1/2 - 5 months or so. She loved it and we never looked back. Bottom line, though, you have to do what feels right to you.
Agreed do what you feel in your gut is correct for him. If you really feel like he's not ready a little more time can't hurt too much.
I agree with what's been said before me by these wise women.

Slow and steady is the course...but how you plot it is up to you, captain. He'll help guide you along the way too.
5 months is too early, according to the AAP, which doesn't recommend other foods until 6 months because of the increased rate of diabetes in babies who start solids earlier.

There is evidence that babies absorb a huge amount of the little iron in breastmillk, but once they start iron-fortified cereals they lose that ability to get all the good iron out of the milk. In other words, if you don't start with the cereal the baby can get iron out of the milk still.

His growth rate will go down once he starts solids because none of them (except avocado) have as much fat as milk does, so he'll fill up on less caloric food and stop gaining weight as quickly.

Also, read this article about babies going at their own pace (and the choking danger of feeding cereals):

Having said all that, if you *want* to start him now, of course you should do it! But it doesn't sound like you really want to, so I'm giving you scientific backup for why you should wait if you want to.

Also, having done it with one, feeding cereals and pureed foods is a big PITA. Almost a second job. I skipped the pureed stuff (and nasty cereals) with my second, and do not regret having that extra time in my day.
Just tried cereal with my two, who are 4 1/2+ mos., upon the doc's suggestion (if they seemed hungry, she said). They would be a bit over 3 mos. adjusted age, so I felt odd about it, but I thought I'd just try. My one guy wouldn't take it at all. My other liked it but had a rash the next day. I'm going to wait another month before another attempt. Just saying, I don't think it's bad to go with your gut, and even if you do try it the lowercase might prove you right, at least for now.
Not much to say as far as solids go as I am SO not there yet...

I am however VERY excited to hear the lowercase is sitting in his Bumbo seat. I have one for Azure (the first baby item I purchased while pg) and I have been afraid she might not be able to use it.

Good luck with the feedings. I agree that you and the lowercase will determine when the time is right.
I agree 100% with Moxie. If it were me, I would absolutely wait. If he shows sign of anemia, then you might consider it. And I think I would try iron supplements before cereal, even then. But until then, I would wait until at least 6 months if not longer, until it is absolutely necesary or he starts stealing you food and feeding himself.

I also agree that solids are a total PITA. I'm waiting as long as possible with this one!
I also was encouraged to feed solids to my preemie earlier because of his constipation (or technically infrequent bowel movements). My 31 weeker started when he was 4.5 months adjusted - and I didn't think he was going to be ready. Well, he took to it right away much to my surprise. His bowels seemed to have straightened out too (although I think his system needed to mature, not sure if to attribute it to all the prune puree and prune juice I tried to give him). 2.5 months adjusted does seem quite early... but each baby has different needs too. I hope in his own way, lowercase will tell you.

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