Breastfeeding Exclusively for Six Months

I read this article about the recommendation for women to feed only breastmilk to their infants for the fist six months of life with interest and a little guilt.  I am definitely a proponent of breast feeding and always prided myself on lasting over a year with my two oldest girls, but it turns out, maybe I didn't do enough.


The article states that  "the lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women fed their babies breast milk only for the first six months of life".

According to the article, "about 43 percent of U.S. mothers do at least some breast-feeding for six months, but only 12 percent follow government guidelines recommending that babies receive only breast milk for six months".  


I was unaware the recommendation was only breastmilk for six months.  I was told, by my pediatrician and my own reasearch, that it was breastmilk for at least a year, but also solid food starting between four and six months.  And I started solids between four and five months with my two oldest.  Maybe I shouldn't have.


The decision of when to start solids is one I struggled with, and I know many mothers do.  My decision was based on my pediatrician giving the o.k. at their four month check-up as well as when I thought they seemed ready.  They were sitting with assistance, reaching for food, had teeth, and seemed hungry.  Plus, neither took a bottle, so it was nice to be able to leave the house knowing that at least they would be able to have something to eat while I was gone and not be screaming for the babysitter because they were hungry.  They both love to eat and are good eaters now, so I thought I had done the right thing.


Now, my third daughter is about to turn four months old and I've been thinking about starting solids with her.  I honestly had been considering waiting a while.  She isn't sitting, she isn't teething, she isn't reaching for food, and she seems perfectly satisfied with breastmilk.  She doesn't seem as ready as her sisters were. She also doesn't take a bottle.


I know it will come up at her check-up next week, and I know my pediatrician will encourage solids.  She did with my other two, and actually seemed surprised I was still breastfeeding exclusively.  I guess most of her patients switch to formula or supplement with formula by four months.  It's not that my pediatrician doesn't recognize the benefits of breastmilk, it seems more that she recognizes it can be inconvenient and difficult, and she doesn't want to pressure moms who are already stressed enough.


The third time around, I'm a more confident mom.  I realize every child is different and there isn't an exact time to do anything.  I know my child best, and I don't think she's ready yet.  This study has also given me pause to think.  Maybe I won't start solids until six months.  Or maybe, next week, she'll sit, sprout teeth, and act hungry and I'll start just like I did for her sisters.


When did you or when do you plan to start solids?  Do you think breastmilk only for six months is realistic?




You can find me lurking about at Adventures With Three Girls

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