Solid Data on Solids (3)

FFully breastfed infants start to need other foods at around six months. By then they have run their stores of iron down and also need to supplement the vitamin D in their diet. Also breastmilk (and formula) is relatively low in protein, which is suitable for babies, but the growing infant now needs more.


Back in the day, the often-recommended first food was baby rice. We now recognise that early taste experiences program our babies’ food preferences for later, so processed refined rice flour, which is a world away from real food, and is now no longer recommended. Better to give pureed vegetables, fruit and multi-grained cereal perhaps mixed with milk (breast or formula) to the expectant mouth. As soon as these are accepted the little one can then move on to meat, fish, and eggs and other general foods.

When we introduce a new food, babies are often wary about foods they’ve never seen before. It seems that most families try a refused food about 2-3 times and if it is not accepted they give up. Studies show that it might take 8-15 times before the food is accepted – so it is really worth pursuing if you want to broaden your babies’ palate.

Make sure the food is not too salty. Babies don’t need intense flavour, and it’s not a habit that you should encourage. Also avoid sweet foods (much as they are loved) as too many empty calories is the bane of the ‘Western diet’ which is killing us all from

Solid Data on Solids (2)

Children Eat What They Enjoy, and Enjoy What They Know….



HHumans are omnivores – they’ll eat anything that looks nutritious, and therein lies a problem: they can also poison themselves in many different ways. So evolution came up with a solution. Make the young generally ‘neo-phobic’ (fear of new things’) that is, wary of unfamiliar foods. Another great strategy is to get them to copy their mother and only eat what she eats, as it’s should always be safe.

So we copy our Mum.

When we’re in the womb we swallow the amniotic fluid and learn the tastes of the foods that our mother has just eaten. When we breastfed we share her taste experiences similarly. In this way her food preferences programmes our brains into liking the same foods. Then she introduces us to spoon-foods and this allows us to accept and enjoy those foods as well.

By the end of the first year we should have had a wide experience of good foods that our family eats and likes.

Just as well. At 1 year our evolution says that now we are mobile (when we can toddle off and experiment with eating poisonous berries in the garden) we should eat only what we have already experienced. Our neophobia becomes more powerful to protect us. Toddlers generally don’t like unfamiliar stuff to eat!

The bottom line is to make sure that in the amniotic fluid, in the breastmilk and later on the spoon there is only good quality, healthy foods. In this way we programme our

Solid Data on Solids (1)

The old fashioned ideas (pre-2008) were at six months of age a cautious, slow introduction of spoon-foods, limited variety and the avoidance of allergic foods until the infants were older. Nowadays, based on real information and studies, we know differently.

By |February 19th, 2017|0 Comments

Breastfeeding to Sleep

Just lately I’ve had a question from a couple of mothers through email and Facebook asking me what to do as their babies are now 6 months old and they are still exclusively falling asleep at the breast.

A paediatrician to one of them told her to stop this, and the other was told that ‘feed, play, sleep’ was some kind of gold standard to work towards as early as possible.

It’s perfectly okay for babies to continue falling asleep at the breast if you are both happy with it. There is nothing essential about separate sleeping and nothing biologically important about teaching babies this skill. Nice if you can have it happen, but not worth the tears and anguish if it doesn’t work, especially if you and your baby don’t mind.

There isn’t a ‘sensitive window’ at any age. It’s not true that if you miss teaching it by a certain time the baby will still be insisting on breastfeeding to sleep in a month, or a year, or when they go to school.

If you want to get your baby to fall asleep independently, try it, and if it works that’s great. If not, keep going until one or other of you are sick of it down the track. Then it will spontaneously stop or you can try to modify the behaviour in the usual ‘step by tiny step’ technique.

But don’t let our ‘separate sleeping’, and ‘let’s make our babies independent as soon as possible’ culture determine the timing.

PS from Georgy (my

By |February 11th, 2016|21 Comments

Breastmilk as a painkiller

“II am a breastfeeding, first time mum of a lovely and funny 7 1/2 month old. Cameron is teething like crazy (yet to get any chompers but all the signs are there) and we have been breastfeeding like crazy at night. I’m very interested in what is known about breastmilk as an analgesic but haven’t been able to find very much information on it. I was hoping you may be interested in sharing some on your blog some time.

Thanks for your science based and heartfelt based approach to baby rearing! We love it!!!”

What an interesting question! Particularly as I happen to have given a lecture on this quite recently. For those of you with a short attention span I’ll give you the conclusion first:

Yes, your own breastmilk is a good analgesic for your baby.

This has been shown in quite a few studies looking at the response of babies, both full-term and premature, to heel stick blood tests.

There’s actually been more than twenty of these studies and a number of reviews. The Cochrane Neonatal Reviews looked at all these studies and found that, though there were difference in the minutiae of the results, generally breastfeeding itself and, to a lesser extent, the taste of expressed breastmilk did relieve the pain of blood taking interventions.

The studies also showed the smell of the milk itself, even without the close presence of the mother or the feel of her breast on the baby’s cheek, was comforting. These associated factors are of course very important but

By |September 15th, 2015|4 Comments

Time to Cease Breastfeeding

Gems from ILCA 2015 (No.1)


As it is World Breastfeeding Week I think I should relate a gem from the International Lactation Consultants Association conference held last week in Washington DC.

  • Kathy Dettwyler, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Delaware gave a great talk about the time of weaning (meaning ‘ceasing breastfeeding’ not adding solids).

Unencumbered by culture, societal and peer pressure, how long does biology tell us to breastfeed our young?

It seems reasonable to compare the timing of weaning in non-human primates, but as they have different lifespans, growth rates and times to mature we need to look at this using standards that allow us to compare species.

Dr Dettwyler has done extensive studies on this looking at:

  • Time of gestation (how long is the fetus in the womb)
  • Time to primary teeth
  • Time to secondary teeth
  • Time to sexual maturity
  • Time to triple or quadruple birth weight.

And what does she find?

In comparison to Gorillas and chimps and other apes the minimum time would be predicted to be 2.5 years and for several predictors it’s 5, 6 or 7 years!

Moreover, looking at average weaning time in 64 ‘traditional’ human cultures and taking the average of those averages, weaning time is about 2.5 years too.

What changed the Western human and when?

In the West breastfeeding routinely continued for 3 to 5 years or longer…..until the invention of formula. Then habits and attitudes changed.

Remember that expert committees such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend a MINIMUM of 1 year and the World Health Organisation a MINIMUM of 2 years (not

Constipation after Spoon Foods: Act Fast!

“My 7 mo has constipation. She’s breastfed and on solid. She eats lots of vegetables, fish, fruits and a little meat. I’ve given her pear puree and prune puree but they don’t seem to work. I recently had to apply a vaseline covered cotton bud to the inside of her rectum to help with things, and even then she cried and strained a lot. Her stool looks like it has blood and is hard.”

If   If your baby’s getting true constipation (that is, hard, pebbly, rabbit-pellet stools, not just infrequent ones) after solids have been introduced, it is important to take it seriously.

If there is blood in the stool it is possible that the baby has developed a split in the anal ring from the passage of a large hard stool. This is called a ‘fissure’ and it may cause pain on passing further stool. Not surprisingly this will dissuade the baby from pooing even when the desire is there and this worsens the problem.


  • Add more fluid to the diet, either milk or water
  • Remove those foods that you think may be causing it – for instance rice, potatoes or banana or other low fibre foods


  • Try adding prunes, both the fruit and the juice, and other high fibre foods
  • My next move would be a medications called lactulose starting at 5ml a day.

If things are not right with the above, then go see your doctor. And avoid suppositories and vaseline buds. If you’re needing them, you

By |September 8th, 2013|0 Comments

A message about sugar

MMy 10-month baby goes to childcare and I have realised they give him jam sandwiches. I dont give him any sugar at home (apart from natural fruit…) so I was a bit shocked. What are your thoughts on the whole sugar issue?

NNot everyone has received the news about sugar and considering that just about every comfort food we have is loaded with it, it’s going to be a while before the low-sugar story becomes mainstream, I’m afraid.

Nevertheless I think you should have a quiet word with the childcare, and perhaps send him with his own food. Jam sandwiches to a 10 month old indeed! It isn’t going to poison him or anything but the (relatively new) principle of avoiding foods with added sugar to anyone under one year (or older, for that matter) still stands.

We’re all primates and love sweet things, or any other energy dense food, because we evolved when such foods we’re rare in nature, and we grabbed them when we could, as famine was not unusual. Sweet things are sweet to taste because they are loaded with fructose, and we now know that half of the energy from fructose goes straight into our fat stores. If it is in the form of raw fruit it is better as the fibre reduces the volume and mode of absorption. Because of its rarity during evolution we did not need to develop an ‘off’ switch to our appetite for fructose, and hence it is somewhat addictive.  So, given the chance,