Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How babies are fed will haunt their entire life

The feeding habits of babies have such a huge impact on their lives later. Actually a much bigger impact than you can ever imagine.

This truth sunk into my spirit recently when I "accidentally" listened to a child health care expert on the radio in somebody else's car on the way into town. I say "accidentally" because at my age with grown kids, there is no way I would have listened to something like that on my own car radio. There are lots of other interesting things usually competing for my interest.

The expert warned mothers to be very careful about the way they feed their babies because it would impact on their feeding habits and life in general for their entire life here on earth. Wow.
She especially pinpointed first-time mothers who were normally eager to see to it that their children were well-fed. This over-enthusiasm usually caused them to introduce heavier liquids and foods than milk, too early to the diet of the child. She added that this sometimes caused lifetime stomach-related problems for the child as well as causing the person to be that type that tends to overfeed, meaning that they would have to be dangerously overweight.

This realization hit me with some impact. I will not be exaggerating when I say it hit me like a slap in the face.

I quickly remembered a child I have been rather close to, now in his early teens. The poor boy has a mother who fed him rather over-enthusiastically when he was young. Today the results prove every single word spoken by the child care expert.

He is overweight, actually obese and he loves to over-eat. He also frequently complains of stomach upsets and all sorts of stomach-related problems.

The whole incident set me thinking as to how many mothers the world over impact negatively on the future of their babies by failing to acknowledge this simple fact about feeding babies. What a price to pay for simply wanting to make sure that your child is well fed!

Especially those well intentioned mothers from poorer neighborhoods who proudly want to make sure that their babies never go hungry.

There are also babies who tend to cry a little more often than others. Usually for no apparent reason. Just like there are grown-ups who tend to whine and complain a little more than others, I guess. Mothers who are not sensitive enough will always tend to assume that every time the baby cries, it is because they are hungry. Especially when they have checked all the other possible discomforts like soiled diapers or a high temperature implying illness.

Modern culture and the way we live make it even easier for mothers to make this mistake. There may be some engrossing soap or movie on Television and this is the precise moment when the baby starts to cry. The natural tendency in this situation would be to get the baby quiet as quickly as possible. So the first thing to reach for when all else seems to be okay, is, of course the feeding bottle. The vital but also deadly feeding bottle.

I say deadly because we are all very much aware of the myriad of problems that obese and overweight people face.

Mothers will need to be a little more sensitive than that.

My mind even wandered to a possible national crisis caused by hoards of mothers who have been over-feeding their babies. Just look at all those young overweight Americans swaggering around on the streets these days. I read in the newspapers somewhere that most of Europe and especially Germany has the same obese national crisis.

It seems that we have all been looking at the wrong places for the answers to this disturbing trend. Do you not find it strange that at a time when we have the most information on dieting and sensible eating available in the history of mankind, that we at the same time have record numbers of overweight persons?

To me it did not make any sense until I listened to that life-changing radio show on how babies should be fed.

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