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Monday, September 19, 2011

The Gerber Generation...


Rice Cereal. Parents just CANNOT wait to start giving their babies cereal, whether in their bottles or with a spoon. Parents are lead to believe that cereal is harmless and will make baby sleep all night long. They assume that a baby wanting to eat every 2 hours definitely needs to be "filled up" with some rice cereal. They mistakenly believe that reflux or spitting up will be instantly solved by the addition of cereal to a bottle. 

Let's start from the beginning...rice cereal was originally made because it is hypoallergenic, meaning hardly anyone is allergic to it. It's easy to make runny and last but not least, it was made by "baby food" companies to extract more money from parents. According to Gerber, your baby "HAS" to have "baby" food, it "NEEDS" purees, it "CANNOT" live unless you give it purees from 4 months old. Somehow, our views have been skewed to actually believe this garbage. 

If you ask the mom that believes this, she will tell you how her 9 or 10 week old baby "HAD" to be fed something besides breastmilk/formula because he "just wasn't satisfied" on milk alone...

If you ask a mom that has researched "baby led solids" and the effect of early solids, she will tell you how her baby is thriving on milk alone at 7, 8, 9 months and sometimes even older. 

Did you know that the AAP and the WHO recommend waiting until at least 6 months before introducing anything besides breastmilk or formula to your baby? Do you think they do that to be mean or punish your "starving" baby? No. It's because evidence shows that babies digestive systems are NOT ready for solids. In fact, until they are no longer on breastmilk or formula, they don't even need solids. Solids are introduced before one because we have a ton of folks that formula feed and switch to cow's milk around 12 months. So, kids need food then to make up for the nutrition they will no longer be getting. If they are still on breastmilk or formula, they don't "NEED" food to "fill them up". They need more breastmilk of formula. 

I want you to look at your baby's fist. Imagine a cup that much do you think it would hold? Definitely NOT 8 oz of formula/breastmilk PLUS cereal. Your baby's stomach is the same size as their little fist. Let me repeat that: BABY'S STOMACH IS THE SAME SIZE AS ITS LITTLE FIST!!!!!!  So, there is NO way baby is drinking a huge bottle and then needing jar upon jar to "fill them up". Perhaps baby is full, but, thinks that pain is hunger and is confused. As tiny as their stomachs are, they need small amounts of breastmilk or formula often. They don't need stuffed enough to do without for 4 hours. In fact, new studies are showing that small bottles given often help sooth reflux. 

Baby's MAIN nutrition is their breastmilk or formula, NOT foods. They should be getting enough of their milk to meet this need and after 6 months, if they want, some solids to play with.

Sadly, this notion that mom/grandma and whoever knows best has been around since the 1800's at least where babies were fed Pap from a pap boat. Pap is a mixture of breadcrumbs, flour, rice or barley mixed with fluids such as broth, milk (if the infant was lucky), water, wine and even beer, to aid the digestion of pap it was often pre-chewed by the nurse or nanny.
Pap was a popular form of infant nutrition for almost 300 years and used in many well to do homes. However for unwanted or illegitimate infants in foundling homes it was often the only form of sustenance as a result the mortality rate was appallingly high. Despite a growing number of experts advising against the use of pap it never-the-less persisted as a major source of infant nutrition in many nurseries until the late 1800’s, largely due to the ignorance of nannies and nurses who took great delight in disregarding the advice of physicians, who they believed were usurping their position in the household. ‘Nanny knows best’.

As a side note before the defensive early feeders come out claws first:

"I have to say, the research showing that early solids leads to obesity and what not are referring to ADULTS. Not to your 14 month old that is "healthy and fine and skinny and perfect and smart and...". So, please don't throw that out to me. Oh and I am NOT a food snob or Holier than thou Mommy or whatever else you want to call me. I also don't care if you and your grandma and everyone else on the planet had rice cereal and early solids and are "just fine". I was given fried eggs from 2 weeks old plus whatever else mom wanted. I also was given Gatorade as a juice... my mom was given some concoction of a formula and my son was given rice cereal starting at 4 months plus other foods. SO...I KNOW about giving foods early and everything that goes with it. Also, I am not blaming all of the overweight kids today on early solids, again, this is referring to ADULTS that were fed early solids." 


  1. Good post! Ive never baby led solids with my children, but I will if I have another. I started at 6 months like the book said before, and I was also duped to believe they needed it in their bottles so they could sleep longer. My 3 and 4 were exclusively breastfed so I didnt do that, but I would like to breastfeed only for a little longer next time.

  2. THANK YOU, seriously...every mom I come in contact with is OBSESSED with giving their baby rice cereal!!!! They all say it helped them finally gain weight, and when I tell them my 22lb, 7 month old, exclusively breastfed baby who has YET to be interested in solids has never touched this "amazing" rice cereal, they're shocked!

    Sometimes the amount of ignorance and misinformation makes me want to just cloooose my eyes and go to a HAPPY place so I can zone it all out! Great post.

  3. I agree with your basic premise against early solids and rice cereal. It is inaccurate however to say that baby doesn't need solids "as long as it is on breastmilk or formula". My three year old is still "on breastmilk" but it does not meet all of her nutritional needs, nor would it even if I were producing enough to meet her appetite, kwim? :-) Perhaps more accurately you could say infants at least up until six months, probably longer? Because there is also no research-based evidence to show that breastmilk *alone* for say, one year, is enough for nutritional needs, and anthropologically speaking, we rarely find traditional societies that haven't added other sources of nutrition by the second half of the first year. Does that make more sense?

  4. I put the guideline that shows starting after 6 months. I also know kids that still mainly take BM even at 3. You can live off BM alone for a long time. It IS a complete food. My post says NO food until after 6 months of age, but, it also says food CAN be given
    but doesn't have to be after that age. People can use their own minds to decide if their kid needs or wants it.

  5. Can you point me to some research that shows breastmilk is intended as a complete food source for a child say, over 2 years? In terms of protein, fat, other percentages? I agree that breastmilk is nature's perfect food *until* the body's perfect design is old enough to digest and process other foods, as nature intended.


    The first shows what's in breastmilk and a nutritional label for it. the second shows dietary guidelines for kids. Breastmilk has all of that and more. Even and adult could live off BM alone. I never said a kid had to go forever without solids, but, they actually could. Many kids that get Bm through a g-tube live with no solids.

  7. I am against giving your baby any food before 6 months old. It's like I see parents stuffing their kids with rice cereal at three months, and in a bottle at that. Your child should not be consuming solids through a bottle. Some people just don't get it.