Motherhood

No means NO

Sometimes, I feel that in bringing up Aidan, I am constantly battling both sets of grandparents.

Early on, they questioned my decision to breastfeed Aidan and insisted that we should supplement with formula for his own good. This, despite the fact that he was piling on the kilos and hitting his milestones.

Currently, they are on a mission to start Aidan on solids, despite the fact that he is only 4.5 months old. Now that both sets of grandmothers are taking turns to look after the little man in the day while I am at work, they have had a taste of how little he naps and how my days used to be like. Them being them, they jumped to the conclusion that he doesn’t sleep much because he is hungry and breast milk is no longer enough to satisfy his needs. And them being them, they have taken to exerting pressure on us to feed Aidan solids, believing that doing this will improve his sleep.

Complete. Utter. BULLSHIT.

Babies who eat solids (and/or formula, for that matter) are NOT better sleepers. Also, the idea that babies’ appetites for milk increase as they grow is hogwash. For the first six months of their lives, the breast milk intake of babies remain constant; it’s the composition of breast milk that changes to keep up with their needs.

This means that medically, there isn’t any basis for me to feed Aidan solids before he reaches six months.

There are many reasons why breastfeeding Aidan is important to me. For starters, the World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants for the first six months of their lives, up to two years of age and beyond. And on a personal level, I want to ensure that my baby’s gut flora flourishes.

In a nutshell: babies have an “open gut” up to about six months of age. This is where the space between the cells in the small intestine are large enough for big molecules to move into the bloodstream. While this allows all the antibodies and goodness of breast milk to be absorbed by baby easily, this also means that bad stuff like allergens and pathogens have an easy path too.

The “holes” in the intestines are covered by gut flora, which contain loads of good bacteria and prevents the bad stuff from passing through. Breast milk helps to promote the development of these good bacteria, which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria and improves digestion.

But – and this is a huge BUT – once formula or solid foods enter the system, the entire gut flora is stripped, allowing allergens to flow freely into the bloodstream. Susceptible babies are more likely to suffer from common allergies like asthma and eczema.

(This is not a scientific explanation and here are two in-depth reads.)

Can you blame me for wanting the best for my baby?

Honestly, it irks the shit out of me when well-meaning grandparents try to run our lives. What makes it worse is the lack of appreciation and respect towards me, the mother of their precious grandson. They complain about Aidan’s lack of sleep in the day – have they not realized that this was what I had to deal with, on my own, for 3.5 months? My mother has the helper for company while my mother-in-law has TWO helpers to handle ONE baby.

What’s more, as any working, breastfeeding mom will assure you, pumping milk is one of the more tedious tasks in the world. It really sucks – pardon the pun – to have to take time out to express. And let’s not forget the amount of work required to wash and sterilize the pump parts.

Rather than bemoan the fact that the little man is only on breast milk, how about showing some appreciation to this poor cow here?

I’ve already told both sets of grandparents firmly but politely that we will NOT be introducing the little man to solids until he turns six months. I would tell them to STFU too but unfortunately, that would be a little too much. And it drives me nuts that they are not giving us the space to bring up our child the way we want to.

And this is only the beginning.

13 thoughts on “No means NO”

  1. I didn’t know the composition changes to keep up with a baby’s needs, that’s so clever, the human body is pretty amazing!

    As a kid who was never breast fed, and as an adult who sometimes goes around asking friends if they were breast fed, I came to my own conclusion that kids who were breast fed have closer relationships with their mothers (and fathers). Even if that isn’t true for everyone, I think it’s nice to know your mom breast fed you, rather than didn’t. Anyway I hope both your mothers back down a little soon. Aidan looks super happy and healthy really, they should cherish and be so happy about that!

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  2. This is so familiar. They all want the best for the child and in their days, BF is unheard of. And they are always eager to feed the baby. I had to be firm and told them that the baby cannot digest the food at 4.5 mths. Maybe can thell them that A isn’t even sitting up properly, how to feed cereal? My mum used to tell me I was fed cereal at month 4. Gah.

    Warning, this is just one of the “food battles with gparents” to come.

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  3. Grandparents have their own ideas and the most annoying thing is they have the ‘I know best’ attitude. My MIL suggested that we should let my boy gum a drumstick when he was a few months old (can rmb exact but think it’s abt 6 mth). Imagine my horror! Sigh, and yes this is just the beginning 😦

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  4. Take heart that you’re definitely not alone. Just yesterday I was in an elevator with an exaperated mom and her set of parents, who poo-pooed the idea of feeding her toddler Vitamin C. The mama snorted out a laugh, as if indicating that this was just one of many pointless arguments she’s had with them.

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  5. Hi,
    I have been a silent follower of your blog for a while and am a doctor. My son is 6.5 months old and was a purely breastfed baby till the age of 5 months. There is nothing wrong with giving solids to a 4.5 month old baby- as long as he demonstrates some interest in your food, and has the ability to hold his neck upright + lost his tongue thrust reflex.
    The solid foods are more for experimentation, however a bit of rice cereal has not been known to harm anyone- and yes, can make the baby feel more satisfied.
    While breastmilk is best for the child, sometimes I feel we hang on more to it- knowing that we are producing the “best milk for our child:” gives us some sense of pride, however it doesn’t hurt to let go, especially when others are caring for your child while you are at work. Grandparents also act in the best interest of the child, and although there opinions can differ from yours- all stem from love for the child.

    So I am suggesting you stop whining. Let go a little. You have a healthy baby. Relax

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  6. Tell them that if the baby can’t sit by himself, then it’s a choke hazard to feed him solids!

    And again, I blame the aggressive marketing tactics of pharma companies.

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  7. Yann, I agree with your whole analysis about whether to be a SAHM or a working mum. Just want to tell you that interference from others (mostly grandparents) about how to bring up my child was the singular most important reason why we opted to have no help during confinement and why I became a SAHM. This interference will always, ALWAYS be there. It’s only after the 1st or 2nd year that the grandmas started to respect me and stopped giving suggestions (though they tried to slip in one or two here and there). Because hey, I brought Mandy up all by myself and she is fine! So they learnt to diam diam. Now, I can leave the kids with them and they know what they should or should not do. It helps that we are firm too. 🙂

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  8. Carol: Thank you for your professional input. I do believe that feeding solids/breastfeeding are personal choices, every parent is different. In this case, I am going to go with the “virgin gut” theory. And since it wasn’t clear in my post, they are not talking about a little bit of cereal here and there – it’s using solids to replace breast milk as the main source of nutrition. Also, my baby is not able to sit up unassisted as yet.

    Feeding my baby breast milk was never about me, it has always been about him and his well-being. I do not profess to have a deep sense of pride in being able to breastfeed him. As I have mentioned, every parent makes different choices and this is mine.

    And yes, it is true that the grandparents are doing us a favour by looking after my baby. I thank them everyday. For almost every other thing, I do not question their methods of caring for my son but this is the one thing that I am passionate about. I do not think that it is unreasonable of me to tell the caregivers to hold off on feeding solids.

    I am sorry that you feel that I am whining but this is my blog and I will write how I feel, regardless of what you think.

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  9. Hey Yann,

    That was an incredibly informative post! I didn’t know about the gut flora thing and it protecting babies against allergies.

    I’m thankful to have competent and understanding caregivers for my baby. Even then, I also had to reign my MIL in from adding cereal into Coco’s milk even though she’s perfectly right in saying that “last time we did that for all our babies”. Like you, I’m fully aware that grandparents only nag out of love for their grandchild, but hey, they’ve had their turn with their babies. Let us, as mums, decide how to feed our own baby please.

    Oh and to Carol: You know, it’s kinda rude to publicly tell somebody on her own blog to stop whining. Professional advice is more than welcome; but impolite language and poor social netiquette is uncalled for.

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  10. Hi Yilin, Yann,

    Perhaps my reply was poorly worded. However, I do not believe there was any impolite language used nor was there any semblance of poor social etiquette.
    On the contrary, Yann’s thoughts are put on the world wide web- which if I last recall, is for public viewing. Bemoaning the interference of the in- laws and parents, and heralding a virgin gut theory which is certainly not medically sound. I wanted to state my professional opinion, and just point out to everyone to be careful that they read and choose to believe.
    The state of an infant’s gut over the course of 6 months- where they put every toy and hand into their mouths, where if the jaundiced infant has stayed in neonatal ICU and thus was fed lots of formula, virus particles in the form of immunisations…the list goes on. This does not make for a virgin gut at all, neither is breast milk some magic lotion that washes the tide of germs away.
    Breast milk is merely non- allogenic, and easily digestible. It does provide natural immunity from the mother as well. However, if you have a heavy infant- it will not be sufficient for your infant’s iron requirements. And supplementation may be justified.
    Perhaps Yann, you may want to consider making locked posts. Or else be open to receiving frank comments- which not many on this blog appear to be doing.
    I will never again make any comment on your blog, I have better things to do with my time.
    Also, if I ever was to complain about my in laws- I would certainly not do so over the world wide web. Perhaps Yilin, you may want to consider this as proper social etiquette?

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  11. Carol, I think if you’ve got nothing nice to say, then don’t say it lah.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but it doesn’t give you lee way to judge others without understanding the different situations and the different affecting factors that come into play, especially if it’s not supportive nor constructive.

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  12. Gee, never knew that the baby’s gut flora takes about 6 months to flourish. Good infor to have. I guess both set of grandparents are just used to the older way of bringing up kids. I recalled my little sis started on solids when she was 4.5 months too. That was eons ago and my mom pressured my sis to start my nephew too when he was 4.5 months but she stood firm. I hope both sets of parents will respect your choice. Hang in there..

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