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At Her Own Pace

Sarah Kerr
Kitchener ON Canada
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 2, March-April 2006, pp. 61-62

I started my daughter, Cerys, on solids when she was four months old. A little mashed banana was all she was eating, and very infrequently at that. When I took her to the doctor for her four-month checkup, the doctor told me to cut out the banana and start giving her rice cereal, building up fruits and vegetables from there, with green vegetables and meat the last to be introduced.

Cerys is my first child, and I really trusted the doctor's advice about how to feed her. I started giving her rice cereal, then fruits such as apples, plums, pears, peaches, and prunes, and eventually vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and green beans. Most of the time when I fed her solids, Cerys would turn away from the spoon or clench her jaw shut in resistance. I assumed that this is what new babies do while they get used to new foods.

After a few weeks, Cerys developed a diaper rash, which rapidly worsened to the point of bleeding at each diaper change. I tried every diaper cream available, changed diaper brands, cut certain foods out of my diet, and cut foods out of her diet, all to no avail. Around this time, Cerys also became constipated, so I gave her several suppositories and fed her prunes on a regular basis. When I took her to the doctor, I was told bacteria in her diaper caused the rash, and that it was not food related. The doctor also said that Cerys' digestive system was just "adjusting" to the introduction of solids, and sent us on our way with a prescription cream for the rash.

At Cerys' six-month checkup, the rash was still there. It kept coming back if I stopped using the prescription cream. The doctor remarked that she was on the thin side (17 pounds), but that she would start gaining weight when she started eating more solids.

My instincts were telling me that something wasn't right. I kept Cerys' diaper area clean and changed her as soon as it was necessary—it didn't make sense that the rash was still there. Cerys was also still constipated even though I had stopped giving her the typical foods that can cause constipation. I lay awake that night thinking about the situation. In the morning I called my local LLL Leader, Laura, and we had a long discussion about what might be going on with my daughter. Laura asked if Cerys had a rash, and if she had smelly stools. The answer was yes. Laura thought that Cerys might not be digesting her food very well and suggested that I cut her diet back to avocados, sweet potatoes, mashed banana, and organic rice crisp cereal. She also suggested that I breastfeed Cerys more often. At this point, solid food had been taking the place of some of our nursing sessions.

I followed Laura's suggestions and within two days the rash was completely gone without the use of the prescription cream. I noticed an immediate change in Cerys' attitude toward eating. A few weeks later, she was no longer constipated.

It is very important for mothers to trust their instincts—no one knows your baby as well as you do! It doesn't hurt to keep alternate sources of information in mind, either. If I hadn't called an LLL Leader, Cerys might still be experiencing the upsetting symptoms of digestive problems.

Today Cerys is a happy, mostly breastfed seven-month-old girl. I look forward to the weeks and months ahead as she learns to eat whole foods at her own pace.

Last updated Wednesday, October 25, 2006 by njb.
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