Weaning without Worries
How long do you breast-feed and when do you introduce solid foods?
The following recommendations presume you, the mother, are eating the best possible diet, rich in the essential fatty acids, a wide variety of whole unprocessed foods and taking the ratio-balanced, broad spectrum, high quality, multiple vitamin and mineral supplement which has been prescribed by your participating Health Coach center. I urge all prospective and current parents to study and do their best to implement the nutritional principles explained in our text Functional Dietetics. This manual outlines the strategy for determining the diet which is best for you as an adult. Doing so greatly reduces the likelihood of your infant failing to thrive or reacting to your breast milk unfavorably. Too many mothers have discontinued breast-feeding due to infant irritability, when all they had to do was understand and follow the dietary practices outlined in Functional Dietetics. If you run into any difficulties with breast-feeding or with your infant’s tolerance of your milk, be certain to notify your nutrition-oriented health professional (Health Coach participant) immediately for their input and support. I also encourage new mothers to contact their local La Leche League. Their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding offers helpful information around the challenges some may face with breast-feeding.
Up to 6 Months of Age
Breast-feeding alone can and will provide optimal nutrition for your infant providing the previously stated guidelines are being followed by Mom! Introducing other beverages or solid foods during this period is seldom necessary. Do not supplement your infant’s diet with vitamins or minerals or even water at this time unless your health professional has prescribed something specifically. A number of factors are involved here which necessitate your coach’s input. The exception here is if your infant has diarrhea and/or vomiting and is in risk of dehydration. In these cases be certain to provide your infant water or diluted fruit juice and contact your doctor immediately.
From 6 to 9 Months of Age
Six months is generally the earliest age for foods and beverages other than breast milk to be introduced into your infant’s diet. However, many infants are still fine on breast milk alone throughout this period. If your child is no longer satisfied with just breast milk and demands to be fed with increasing frequency, or is failing to thrive, you may find it necessary to introduce other foods at this time (see the following pages). If your baby is happy, growing normally (approximately 1 to 1.5 pounds per month), and appears to be satisfied, there is no advantage to the introduction of any other foods at this point. Conversely, as discussed in the section on Infant Digestion, introducing new foods prematurely could result in considerable detriment.
If they have not done so already, your participating Health Coach or nutrition-oriented health professional will likely suggest that you begin to supplement your infant’s diet with a multiple vitamin preparation during this period. Micellized vitamins are considered the best, as they have absorption characteristics similar to those vitamins occurring naturally in breast milk. The exception here will be when your infant shows any signs of mineral insufficiency on evaluation. In these cases, as minerals can not be micellized, other preparations will be prescribed.
This is an area of vital importance to your infant’s health. Nutrient insufficiencies may not become apparent until long after any damage has been done. Please don’t play roulette with your infant’s health. Get accurate direction here. Be certain to consult with a qualified health professional regarding the specific dosages and to ensure proper quality control.
Note: From this point on I will use the term ‘health coach’ to refer to the health professional you have chosen as your coach and advisor. It will be understood that if they have not participated in our Infant Nutrition training their advice may well differ from the teachings of Health Coach Systems.
From 9 to 12 Months of Age
Most infants begin to insist on additional foods during this period. The infant’s digestive system has usually developed sufficiently to handle some other-than-breast-milk foods. Teeth are forming, assisting mastication and salivary secretions have increased substantially. If breast milk production is still plentiful and it will be if you are following the nutritional guidelines found in Functional Dietetics, by all means continue nursing your infant. Breast milk is still the front runner in nutritious foods by a substantial margin and as such, other foods are given in addition to breast milk, not vice versa.
Introducing New Foods Properly
In order to fully appreciate the food introduction process and its importance, please consider the following points thoughtfully.
Just as no two infants are identical physically (even ‘identical’ twins) no two infants have identical nutritional needs. Determining just what to feed your infant is a process requiring, careful study, close observation and accurate recording and good professional coaching. We have discussed at some length the impact which improper nutrition can have on your infant, now here is how to minimize the risk of this actually happening.
Remember, as you introduce foods which your infant does not seem to tolerate, there are many reasons for such intolerance. If your infant has responded poorly to a food, but not severely, and this food is a whole natural food which you would like to include in their diet, simply leave that food out of the diet for several weeks and then introduce it again. If it is still not tolerated, leave it out for at least three months before trying it again; but if there are no such signs at this time, it may then be included in your infant’s rotational* diet plan.
* Variety is the spice of life and the backbone of a complete nutrition plan. Rotating foods, eating them 2-3 times weekly vs 2-3 times daily helps to ensure that your infant receives a wider variety of foods. This is much easier as you identify a number of foods which they tolerate.
Also note that as you introduce foods with lower water content than that of breast milk you should begin to supplement with pure water, but not before. Numerous studies have demonstrated that such supplementation with water is not necessary, nor desirable when the infant is on breast milk alone. The exception to this would be the infant who is displaying signs of dehydration: infrequent and concentrated urine, hard stools, dry skin and/or puffy swollen tongue. Fortunately this is rare in the absence of diarrhea and/ or vomiting. If you suspect any such problem, begin to supplement feedings with pure water and contact your health coach immediately. To determine accurately what foods are best for your infant, follow the steps below closely. Start with only one food at a time and continue that one food for at least four days provided there are no signs of intolerance. Observe closely for any of the following common signs of intolerance or allergy.
- Redness around the mouth, usually within one or two hours of ingestion, or twelve to twenty-four hours later around the anus.
- Abdominal bloating, gas and distension (yes indeed this is common, but it is certainly not a healthy sign).
- Irritability, fussiness, over activity, awakes more frequently through the night, often crying or screaming (due to intestinal discomfort).
- Constipation, diarrhea or foul odor to the stools. Discomfort prior to passing stools. (No this is not normal or healthy, even if it is common.)
- Frequent regurgitation of foods, ie. spitting up.
- Nasal and/or chest congestion and catarrh (runny nose).
- Red, chapped and/or inflamed eczema-like skin, on face, groin, bottom, or virtually anywhere on the body.
The following timeline is presented for your reference only. The specifics of your situation may very well dictate a different schedule for you and your infant. Those specifics will be up to you and your health coach to determine, cooperatively.
|BIRTH TO 6 MONTHS OF AGE||Breast-feeding|
|6 – 9 MONTHS||Breast-feeding, fresh fruits, vegetables, seed and nut milks.|
|9 – 12 MONTHS||Breast-feeding, fresh fruits, vegetables, seed, nut and soy milks, lentils.|
|12-18 MONTHS||Breast-feeding (optional, but beneficial yet), fresh fruits, vegetables, seed, nut and soy milks, lentils, legumes, non gluten grains, live-culture yogurt and raw certified milk (optional).|
|18-24 MONTHS||Breast-feeding (optional, but still beneficial, fresh fruits, vegetables, seed, nut and soy milks, lentils, legumes, non-gluten grains, gluten grains, and in those cases where these are tolerated well ‘healthy’ flesh foods and ‘healthy’ dairy products.|
|24 MONTHS ON||Follow the guidelines found in Functional Dietetics. The Core of Health Integration and Guilt-free Indulgence, An Art Worth Mastering.*|
*With the addition of the essential oils, beneficial bacteria, food concentrates and multiple vitamin/mineral preparations as prescribed by your health coach.