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!