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Your 4-Month-Old Baby’s Message – As Translated By a Passing Nurse

Are you listening to your baby's message?

Hot and sweaty, I began the trudge from the cardio machines to the women’s locker room at the YMCA. I passed two young mothers who were sitting together in lounge chairs, and one had a baby with her whom I took to be about 4 months old. She was trying to feed him something; I couldn’t tell what. Each time she brought it to his mouth, he batted it away. Offer and bat, offer and bat, offer and bat. I wanted to blurt out, “Lady, he doesn’t want it! Listen to the baby’s message!”

But, I needed a shower, and honestly, I always have trouble figuring out where my nurse advice should begin or end when I encounter strangers. I headed for the shower, and didn’t give the incident a second thought. But, while walking from the shower area to the locker area, I passed by the women conversing on a bench.

“Well, what did your pediatrician say?” asked the one woman. The other replied, “He said to start solids at 4 months.” There was a pause. “Oh. Well, yeah, mine said that too. Maybe you can try a different food with her.” Okay, that did it! I felt compelled to go into nurse mode.

What do the experts say?

Clad in a towel and flip-flops with hair sopping wet, I decided to deliver my abbreviated rant to these two mothers about starting solids at 4 months old. “Every pediatrician I’ve ever met belongs to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AAP. But the AAP, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, the United States Breastfeeding Committee, the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and every other major organization that I know of says that soft, solid or semi-solid foods should not be started until the baby is 6 months old.”

The women looked at me, with eyes as big as saucers. I quickly added, “You can verify what I said by checking on the web – and you should check, don’t take my word or anyone’s word for it – but I’m very confident that what I’ve just said is accurate.”

What does baby say at 4 months?

The baby had clearly spoken. But the mother didn’t hear the baby’s message. She heard only the “4 months” message from the pediatrician. Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon.

I hear this over and over from mothers. I hear this from nurses, lactation consultants, childbirth educators and others in cities where I teach. It’s not a local thing. All across the country, wherever I go, this is what I hear. What do mothers hear?

Did I poke my nose in where it doesn’t belong? Maybe. But I’ve about had it here.

How do you listen to your baby? If you’re a healthcare professional, how do you help mothers listen to their baby’s message? Tell me in the comments below!

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7 Comments

  1. Nicole Foti

    Love you, Marie! Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad misinformation out there, but it is so hard to know when to give advice xx.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Yep! And that’s exactly why I write this blog. I hope to drown out the bad advice. Nicole, thanks for the atto-girl, sometimes it’s just nice to hear that someone is listening!

  2. Luvisca Payne

    Unfortunately mothers think because their little ones can’t speak, they do not say anything, but clearly in this scenario the baby was talking to his/her mother. I’m glad you spoke up; maybe they may just pass the message along to another mom.

  3. Debra Moore

    What a great topic, on so many levels! Personally I think….anytime I hear misinformation (particularly if it involves safety) I feel compelled to speak up.
    This baby may not have the oral/motor skills to handle “solids” and have a real potential for choking.
    I find myself encouraging the “basics” and for mother’s to continue to “watch their babies behavior” to know what the “next step may be. Sometimes we mothers can “get into our heads” a little too much.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh, bless your heart! Thank you for your vote of “approval”. I also try not to frighten parents, but I do feel compelled to at least help them to be aware that they have misinformation. On the “basics”, yeah, that’s a serious problem these days. I hear this all the time when I teach my courses. The experienced IBCLCs sitting in the seats and I say, “What about this situation…” and some are eager to give all of this complicated stuff and I say –“WAIT! Can we go back to basics here?” We’ve so overcomplicated stuff these days. Yikes! Thank you for chiming in!

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