I love the info on the Kellymom website. But I still don't see how the info presented translates into it always being beneficial to EBF for 12 months.
I'm not trying to be difficult here, I'm just saying that what I'm reading here seems to point towards 6-9 months as an ideal.
"One study has shown that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 4+ months had 40% fewer ear infections than breastfed babies whose diets were supplemented with other foods. The probability of respiratory illness occurring at any time during childhood is significantly reduced if the child is fed exclusively breast milk for at least 15 weeks and no solid foods are introduced during this time. (Wilson, 1998) Many other studies have also linked the degree of exclusivity of breastfeeding to enhanced health benefits (see Immune factors in human milk and Risks of Artificial Feeding)."
Do you know if there are any studies done for babies exclusively breastfed for longer than 4 months? I've just never seen any and I'd be curious for how long this benefit outweighs the addition of some healthy foods to a child's diet.
"Delaying solids gives baby's digestive system time to mature.
If solids are started before a baby's system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy. Gastric acid and pepsin are secreted at birth and increase toward adult values over the following 3 to 4 months. The pancreatic enzyme amylase does not reach adequate levels for digestion of starches until around 6 months, and carbohydrate enzymes such as maltase, isomaltase, and sucrase do not reach adult levels until around 7 months. Young infants also have low levels of lipase and bile salts, so fat digestion does not reach adult levels until 6-9 months."
But young babies are usually not fed "adult" foods right away. It seems that even from this info that 6-9 months is an acceptable age to begin some solid food.
"From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an "open gut." This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby's bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby's first 4-6 months, while the gut is still "open," antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby's digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also."
So again, it seems that 6 months or so would be about the right time to introduce food.
"Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores. In one study (Pisacane, 1995), the researchers concluded that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months (and were not give iron supplements or iron-fortified cereals) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at one year than breastfed babies who received solid foods earlier than seven months. The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia."
So ditch the iron-fortified baby cereals and start solids around 7 months? That seems about right to me.
"Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.
The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood. (for example, see Wilson 1998, von Kries 1999, Kalies 2005)"
Still, this study means introducing solids earlier than 4-6 months, but doesn't show a benefit of waiting much longer.
"Delaying solids helps mom to maintain her milk supply.
Studies have shown that for a young baby solids replace milk in a baby's diet - they do not add to baby's total intake. The more solids that baby eats, the less milk he takes from mom, and less milk taken from mom means less milk production. Babies who eat lots of solids or who start solids early tend to wean prematurely."
I think this info would be great for mainstream pedicatricians to know who tend to push 'three meals a day' for 4 month odl babies
: , but as long as babies aren't consuming "lots of solids" instead of breastmilk, I don't see any benefit in holding off solids altogether. Besides, maintaining milk production is more about frequency of feedings.
"Delaying solids helps to space babies.
Breastfeeding is most effective in preventing pregnancy when your baby is exclusively breastfed and all of his nutritional and sucking needs are satisfied at the breast."
Sure, in an ideal world. But it didn't work for me, or for a lot of mothers I know. I hate to see new mothers rely on this method entirely and then get surprised by an early pregnancy. But sure, it helps.
"Delaying solids makes starting solids easier.
Babies who start solids later can feed themselves and are not as likely to have allergic reactions to foods."
I have only heard the opposite IRL with regard to the first sentence. Sure, babies can feed themselves, which is great. As for the allergic reaction to some foods, yes, there are numerous foods to "avoid" during the first 1-3 years if you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, or asthma, or if you want to play it safe. But that doesn't necessarily mean ALL food.
Some great info here, but I still don't see it making a case for waiting until 12 months on solids. Although I thinks it's great that many moms choose to wait longer versus introducing food far too early.