This month, we're sharing our positive experiences of breastfeeding. Be sure to check out the links at the end for the other participants' excellent posts! I'll be adding more throughout the day Mar. 22.
I've been thinking about my blog post on not worrying too much about children's eating and how that relates to breastfeeding.
At some point I want to do a follow-up to that post more generally, since it spoke to various (including non-nursing) ages, but here I want to address one joy of breastfeeding that sprang to mind in connection: When you're breastfeeding your infant as you first introduce solid foods after six months of age, and even later when that exploring baby turns into a picky toddler who won't eat anything solid that's not, say, a french fry or huckleberry ice cream (ahem, we've had our phases), breastfeeding takes away so much of the worry.
Breast milk contains an average of 22 calories per ounce and 1.15 grams of fat per ounce. (This varies based on several factors: foremilk to hindmilk, mother to mother, different times of day, age of the nursling — but those are the averages.)
If you don't know what to make of those numbers, check out this chart from kellymom comparing the calorie and fat content of human milk vs. a number of other common baby foods.
First, you'll notice that breast milk has more calories and fat than formula or whole cow's milk. As you scan down the list, you'll see that the calories of breast milk are comparable to or higher than most other baby foods except for calorie-dense fruits and few other items, and that breast milk annihilates most other baby foods in terms of fat, except for fat-rich avocados. On this list, only whole-milk yogurt, whole milk, and formula even come close in terms of fat, but breast milk still beats them.
If you still have a mindset from the 1990s that fat is bad, abandon it now, at least (especially) in terms of your growing child. Little developing brains require ample amounts of fat to grow. Fortunately for breastfeeding mamas, breast milk has just the right proportion and type of fats to feed baby brains. You can see from the chart at the bottom of this journal extract that the fat in breast milk increases the longer a mother breastfeeds, to ensure that a toddler who's eating more and more complementary foods will still get the needed fat. Pretty cool the way our bodies are designed that way, huh?
Breast milk helps ensure that your kids get the right kind of nutrients as well. It's sadly easier for babies and toddlers who depend on solid foods for all nutrition to get some of those calories from convenient junk foods that aren't as nutritious. It also might be surprising to note that it's easier to overfeed babies and toddlers who eat primarily solid foods than who eat breast milk. If you're still concerned that your nursing-happy baby isn't eating enough, consider that mothers who breastfeed are less likely to control how much their children eat, and breastfed children are more likely to eat to satiety and then stop.
When breastfeeding, you don't even have to over-worry about what you as the mama eat. I mean, you should prioritize whole and healthful foods to make your milk as whole and healthful as you can, but consider that even if you yourself survive on french fries and huckleberry ice cream for a time (ahem), your body will prioritize making sufficient nutritious breast milk, even if it's at your body's expense (which, admittedly, is another reason to eat healthfully yourself as a nursing mother, but I'm not one to judge, trust me!).
So if your baby or toddler seems more interested in breastfeeding than solids, or if your nursling's choice of solids seems woefully limited, just keep on nursing and rest assured that essential fats, proteins, calories, micronutrients, and (bonus!) immunological benefits are being passed along from you to your picky eater. What a relief, and what a joy!
How does or did your nursing child handle solid foods? What are your favorite joys of breastfeeding?
By writing these posts about solid food and children, I'm seeking only to reassure parents with an unreasonable degree of nervousness over variations in solids consumption by normal, healthy infants and toddlers. But please remember I'm a blogger, not a health professional or scientist (despite my unholy love of Google Scholar). If you have concerns about your child's diet or weight gain, please consult someone qualified to help your child with a personal evaluation.
Enjoy these posts from our other carnival participants:
I'll be adding more throughout the day Mar. 22.
- Life of a Babywearing and Breastfeeding Mommy: Breastfeeding is how I connect with my little one after work
- Breastfeeding Moms Unite!: Poems about the joys of breastfeeding
- Maman A Droit: A Joyful List
- Lucy & Ethel Have a Baby: Nursing My Little Person
- Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Top Five Things I love About Breastfeeding
- Code Name: Mama: Milk Songs
- Little Snowflakes: The Joys of Nursing to Sleep
- Good Enough Mum: You Don't Have To Be Crunchy To Like Breastfeeding
- Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Things I loved about breastfeeding my son
- Living Peacefully With Children: nursing haikus....
- Blacktating: What makes breastfeeding so great
- The Adventures of Lactating Girl: The joys of breastfeeding a toddler