One of the things that surprised me most about becoming a mother is how many of my peers were asking to start their babies on solids early – like at four months early. I haven’t found any organization that advises anything less than six months of exclusive breastfeeding due to health concerns, but there are many parents who are running out to buy rice cereals and begin this process early.
There are so many benefits to breastfeeding that it’s almost hard for me to imagine why anyone would be so anxious to start solids. I suppose I can imagine that some parents are just excited to start hitting milestones. Problematically, this is one milestone that can cause big problems for the baby when it’s forced too early. There’s really no benefit to this practice, and I’m going to give you eight great reasons why you should hold off until at least six months.
- Babies Sleep Better: I’ve heard many people state that babies sleep better once they start solids, but the scientific research indicates that the opposite may be true. Starting solids early and formula feedings increase the instance of indigestion, which means that baby sleeps less well. The reason for the confusion is that many babies tend to start sleeping through the night at around six months, but this is usually due to maturation and not diet. Breastmilk is less likely to cause indigestion problems that will interrupt baby’s sleep.
- Reduces Food Allergies: Breastmilk does more than simply nourish your baby, it is also designed to coat the linings of your baby’s intestines so that they become sealed against allergens. Before six months, there’s a risk of allergy-producing substances found in solid foods from slipping through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream. Because baby’s body may not be entirely ready for solids, their body begins producing antibodies against them, attacking as though they’re dangerous, causing food allergies. Holding off until at least six months (or even waiting a little while longer) gives adequate time to ensure the intestinal wall is sealed, reducing the risk of food allergies.
- Reduces Diarrhea and Gas: Upset tummies aren’t the only thing to expect from introducing solids early; stinky gas and diarrhea can also result. A baby needs time to develop the enzymes necessary to break down food during digestion. The earliest you can expect to see these enzymes present in high enough concentrations to avoid these problem is at around six months.
- Decreases the Risk of Choking:
- It’s Cheaper: Breastmilk is free; baby puffs, rice cereals, and baby foods are not.
- It’s More Convenient: You don’t have to remember to pack your boobs when you go out. They’re already there and producing milk. You can forget the bottles at home and not bother with inconvenient runs to the market for baby food. You don’t have to measure anything out, heat anything up, or try to force your kiddo to eat. Breastmilk is there and ready whenever you need it – no assembly required.
- It’s Healthier: Check out the ingredients list on your rice cereals and baby puffs. There’s little to no nutritional value. Even the “organic” varieties are little more than simple starches and processed sugars. What’s worse,
- Baby Will Be Sick Less Often: