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What in the World do I Feed my Kids? (Part I)

The other day, I took my one-year-old to a pediatric dietitian.  Over the last several months, her weight hasn’t been keeping up with her height, so the pediatrician thought it wise to get some nutritional guidance.

I got plenty of guidance at that visit, but how do I apply it? The dietitian thought I should:

  • wean the baby off breastfeeding and feed her plenty of formula
  • feed her every 4 hours (no snacks of any kind in between – not even fruit)
  • stay away from whole grains and opt for refined flours instead.

I left the office contemplating which one of the suggestions was the most bizarre.  On the face of it, the advice goes against everything we seem to know about nutrition. Whole grains are more nutritious than white, breast milk is preferable to formula, and many small meals better than three  square ones.

The last point really took me by surprise, but from conversations with several other people, including a registered dietitian, it seems that the extra fiber in whole grains interferes with absorption of certain minerals and causes babies to feel full faster, preventing them from eating more calories.

But as much as I didn’t welcome the idea of setting up a separate pantry for the little one, it was the first suggestion that left me clueless. Unlike our other four kids, this one has a host of allergies, including… milk, making milk-based formula a non-option. And as long as the jury is out on the safety of soy, I have no intention of pumping her with a quart of soy-based formula each day.

So now what do I do? Any ideas?

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11 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    Avocado is a great choice for both nutrition and calories. As the mother of a very skinny toddler, I also shamelessly suggest offering foods with extra olive oil…squash or sweet potatoes whipped with olive oil, couscous with olive oil, bread dipped in olive oil, etc. Mothering.com has a great discussion forum for all kinds of issues related to natural family living, nutrition and parenting — you may want ot consider getting some input there.

  2. Karen says:

    Oh, and I wanted to add — DO NOT WEAN! Your milk is the best possible food for supporting her immune system and nutritional needs!

  3. hannahpt says:

    Breast milk is high in calories. If you wean her, there’s not guarantee she’ll eat other foods to make up for those calories. One way that formula is equivalent to breastmilk is in calorie count, anyway.
    How skinny is she? What percentile? Is she developing normally? Could she have allergies you haven’t picked up on yet? Has she been tested for anemia and other issues? Is she happy, or kvetchy most of the time? Do you think she is really hungry, or is she eating enough for her? Are other family members so slim? Has she always gained slowly?
    Try to get a copy of Carlos Gonzalez’ book, My Baby Won’t Eat. I loved it, but some critics thought what he wrote didn’t apply to severely allergic children. He says that if the child is healthy you can more or less trust them to eat as much as they need.
    I don’t understand the reason for waiting four hours between meals, either.

  4. [...] breastfeeding, CDC, FTT, Health, nursing, nutrition, parenting, WHO by Leah Last week, I posted an item about my baby’s seeming diagnoses of Failure to Thrive (FTT). The dietitian was adamant that I [...]

  5. keren says:

    According to research the calorie content of mother’s milk increases as the child gets older. Formula is mostly water!

    Apart from Avocado, give bananas and batata.

    There is no such thing as milk not being of a high quality. If one stops the milk you cannot get it back.

  6. [...] idea hit me while responding to comment on my posting about my baby’s feeding troubles. All of a sudden I realized that common advice to stop nursing, [...]

  7. [...] is for the many parents of children who do not grow according to charts, and have been told over the years to feed formula [...]

  8. Leah says:

    @Karen – Thank you for your suggestions. Now that avocado is in season, I give it to her almost every day. More oil is also a great idea. The dietitian was emphatic that my milk is not high quality and that it doesn’t provide the necessary nutrition any more.

    @Hannah – She eats nicely most of the time and she doesn’t seem to be hungry. She is very active and has been walking since she turned one. She was in 50th percentile until about 6 months old. When I tried offering solids she wouldn’t eat them and was very kvetchy. It was then that she went down to 4th percentile. She’s then she’s been at around the 4th percentile and did not make up what she had lost.

  9. tenlikoach says:

    I also don’t understand the thought behind weaning off breastmilk (something great for immune system) and give formula instead (which can be allergenic for some)….I find that so many doctors don’t understand the first thing about breastmilk. Wean on your own terms. I also don’t get waiting several hours between meals – no snacks. Would the doctors suggest that for themselves?

    And refined flours?? Sigh!

  10. Leah says:

    Thanks for reading. Look, from the dietitian’s perspective it is safer to feed the baby 3 quantifiable bottles of formula than 3 feeds of breast milk, which always remain an unknown.

  11. Leah says:

    Keren, yams are a great idea. She can’t stand bananas (a first for me) but yams should go well by her.

    Thanks

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