This is my first post, and I wish it could be under better circumstances. My 10.5 mo daughter and I are really struggling with breastfeeding right now. I'm hoping someone here might have had some experience with this and be able to help me.
We have been EBF since day 1. At 6 months, we started baby-led weaning and introduced solids. My daughter has never been a great eater, but she ate just about everything we gave her. At around 7.5-8 months, she basically gave up on eating everything but rice rusks, homemade baked goods, and cheerios. Concerned, we cut all of that out of her diet and she lived on breastmilk for about three days. After that, she started eating various foods again.
At her 9 month checkup, our doctor said that she was too thin and wanted us to start recording everything she ate. She was 18lbs., 13oz, and was 28.25 inches tall. According to her charts, she was too thin for her height. I didn't pay much attention to it, because I know the majority of BF'd babies are lean and the charts are designed for formula-fed babies. But I indulged my GP and recorded everything she ate for over two weeks.
Early last week, she started to resist the majority of the solids we'd offer her. A bite or two, and then she'd refuse. Whether it was pureed, chunky, finger-foods, warm, cold, smooth, lumpy, sweet, sour... Nothing (again, except rice rusks and homemade baked goods) worked. Again, I wasn't worried about it because we were still nursing.
On Thursday of last week (so six days ago), she started having a fever. Her rectal temp said it was 38.9 at it's highest, so I didn't take her in, as this is a low grade temperature. But for two days, we nursed, cuddled and slept. At the end of the second day, she started to feel better. I assume this is teething-related, but no teeth have emerged yet. She has been coughing and sneezing since then, so it could have been early warning signs of a cold.
Since then, she wants nothing to do with anything edible. Just breastmilk. She wants it all day, every day. And I don't feel like I'm producing enough. She nurses and cries. My breasts feel completely drained. I was never a mom who had to pump because of excess -- in fact, when I pumped, it took me almost an hour to accumulate 2oz from both breasts combined.
I am at my whit's end right now. I feel so horrible about not being able to nourish my baby, and I don't know what to do to help her. I really don't want to supplement with formula if I can help it, but I don't know if this food strike is going to go on for more than a few days or if it's oging to last months. In either case, my breasts just don't seem capable of nourishing her fully. I hear her poor little belly grumbling and I can't seem to make it stop.
Should I supplement? Is there anything else I can do? I'm drinking "Mother's Milk" tea to try to help boost my milk production, but I'm getting so overwhelmed with the constant need to feed and the hungry cries. It's breaking my heart that I can't feed my daughter sufficiently.
First of all, your daughter's weight sounds just fine. According to the WHO growth charts, which is what your doctor should be using but is probably not, your daughter is right on the 50% line for weight and just slightly above the 50% line for height. She falls right on the 50% line for weight-for-length on these growth charts. The U.S. CDC recently recommended that the WHO growth charts should be used for all children under 24 months, instead of the charts published by the CDC. The WHO charts are based on several ethnically diverse, healthy populations following our current understanding of optimal feeding practices for infants and toddlers (exclusive bf until around 6 months, slow intro of solids w/ continued bf for a minimum of 12 months, no formula feeding). The CDC charts were based on "normal" feeding practices in the US, which means most of the babies were formula fed. BTW, the WHO charts are available on-line (just google CDC growth charts).You might want to print out the charts and bring them, along with the CDC recommendation if you're in the US, to your DD's next visit.
As far as your DD's current disinterest in solids, I'm not sure it's really something to worry about. It sounds like she might have a virus of some sort & it's very common for breastfeeding children to revert to breastmilk, both for comfort and for nutrition, when they don't feel great. If anything, you can be thankful that you ARE breastfeeding, so you have perfect nutrition for her when she isn't interested in eating. Plus, if she's slightly sick, she probably would be a lot sicker without the antibodies in your milk supporting her immune system. I would guess that your breasts feel "empty" because she is taking more milk than usual. This doesn't mean you don't have enough for her; your body continues to make milk constantly and the more "empty" your breasts are, the faster you make it. As long as you nurse on cue, she should be fine. If she was only hungry, she would be unlikely to refuse solids. It sounds like she's more uncomfortable than hungry, and nursing is a great way to comfort her. It can be really taxing on mom, though, so do make sure you're getting plenty of rest & nutritious meals (you can eat what she refuses, LOL) so you don't get sick, too! Most viruses last about 10 days, but if the food refusal continues for longer than that, you might have her doc check for an ear infection or strep throat, since if she hurts she might not want to eat.
There have been several studies that demonstrate that, as long as children are offered healthy foods, they will make nutritionally complete choices. It can be misleading to look at daily consumption, but over a week or so, your DD should choose a relatively balanced diet. Remember that your milk should be making up the majority of her diet at this point in her life; many moms find that nursing toddlers continue to consume as much or more of mom's milk than solids until well into their 2nd year as well. Grains (cereals, breads, rice, etc) in general are not nutrient dense. If she's really interested in these types of foods, she might fill up on them instead of more nutrient dense choices. Since she seems to prefer these types of foods, you might not offer them as often. Offering other, more nutrient dense foods on a regular basis and the lower-quality foods only every few days might be a good idea. It's also common for toddlers to go on "food jags" where they only want to eat one food for a day or two, perhaps your DD is just early! Since it sounds like she at some point eaten a wide variety of foods and varying textures without issues, a sensory disorder or allergy is less likely, but if she continues to refuse all but a few foods you might want to explore this more.
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