Thursday, April 27, 2006

# 143 HUNGRY BABIES CRY

When you are solely responsible for a incredibly sweet, gentle, tiny, warm, totally helpless being that cannot communicate needs to you except through a sad wail, how can you ignore that wail because of the content of a ridiculous bit of print that will probably be revamped in six months or a year? A document that is probably as wrong as it is right?

I’m talking about the New Revised Baby Growth Charts . Now I think everyone is supposed to be excited about the Revised Baby Growth Charts, and I am excited. But not in the way that I expect the Health and Nutritionist experts hoped.

Now, according to the experts, the biggest reason the Baby Growth chart was revised is because breast-fed babies are smaller than formula-fed babes. The document suggests that research revealed that breast-fed babies gain weight more slowly than bottle-fed. But excuse me, doesn’t this research also make some assumptions? The assumption (without validation by the babies), that the research group of breast-fed babies, from various countries, were babies that were fed exactly as much and often as they should be? And that, therefore when body size was averaged out, the sum equaled the ideal? But, in my mind, added to that wrinkle is something more insidious that the authors may have had in mind – The new social mandate, that determination to wipe out obesity.

So I am excited but not in a good way. What excites me is that the new guide does not take into account that some mom’s have rich milk, some have lean, some have more than enough milk, some don’t have enough. I was so uptight about breast-feeding my children, so uptight about needing privacy and the guilt of bare-breast immodesty that I had neither the quantity nor the quality of milk to sustain them. A situation difficult to assess. After all, bottles have measurement markers, teats do not. And so, it was only baby’s wail that told me this was the case.

The new guidelines also fail to take into account that some people will always have a problem with obesity that has absolutely nothing to do with how they were fed as babies. So let’s not zero in on babies. Seems to me, in this respect, the onus is on parents to make sure when their babies become toddlers that that is the time to work on balanced diets that set a standard for healthy eating, rather than indirectly suggesting that infants should be put on reduced diets.

We like to assume it won’t happen but with this new guide some mothers will suddenly discover one day from this chart that their thriving babies are too big and as a result will determine to correct that problem in four days or less. Insecure moms will just grab this chart and run. No matter how much baby cries.

And distressing to me is this chart also doesn’t take into account a large segment of the baby population that right at this moment are not getting enough food!!! How often on the news do we hear of babies that are removed from homes because they are not being fed? Too many. And conversely, how often are babies removed from homes because they are overfed?

You know by now that I am annoyed. Annoyed because the chart doesn’t even refer to what is really fundamental about baby feeding. That hungry babies are cranky, restless, difficult to please, and have fitful sleeps that leave their mom’s exhausted and overwhelmed. Or that contented babies, on the other hand, sleep soundly, and during waking hours are happy and content as long as the diaper is dry and all is well with the rest of the world. Or that babies will refuse more formula when they have had enough. And if they don’t, if they gobble down formula until their stomachs are distended and they are in pain, it is time to add a bit of porridge – no matter what the guidelines say.

But most disturbing of all, this new chart doesn’t take into account the wisdom of Mother’s intuition. “An intuition that is puzzling but more accurate than anything else,” Doctors so often say.

Isn’t it ironic that the handbook for hardware items will often warn us of things not at all pertinent to the operation of that hardware? A tag on a blow-dryer might suggest you do not use it for warmth for an earache or sore throat. Or a manual for a blender might warn you not to put your fingers in it when it is running. But when it comes to a manual for the care of a living breathing thing, there is no appendix or supplementary warning to suggest that some moms and babes may have situations that alter the validity of the chart.

Not even the obvious –

WARNING: Hungry Babies Cry!~

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