The History of Bottle Feeding

February 25, 2008

Archaeological findings have shown that breast feeding substitutes were used thousands of years ago. Historically, substitute milk was given to infants whose mothers died or were too sick to feed their babies, usually with limited possibility of wet nursing at hand. Cow’s milk or goat’s milk were commonly used to replace mother’s milk. In addition, babies were sometimes given supplementary solid food, such as a paste made of bread or flour mixed with milk or water. Needless to say that infant mortality rate was extremely high – from 50 to 99% . History and cross-cultural studies have revealed that the increase in bottle feeding resulted in an increase in infant deaths, especially where standards of hygiene were not met. It is a fact, that artificial infant feeding can hold more risks for baby.

During the industrial revolution artificial feeding became popular in Britain as women had to leave their children behind to work in the factories. The first scientific breast milk substitute was invented in 1867 by a German chemist. It was a combination of cow’s milk, flour, potassium bicarbonate and malt. However, the popularity of bottle feeding increased when condensed milk was developed in the late 19th century. The social consensus about how best to feed baby in a modern world which was filled with new scientific achievements, changed towards artificial infant feeding. Bottle feeding was sold as nutritious, safe and easy to prepare with no need for refrigeration. More importantly, pasteurization of milk and sterilization of feeding equipment made artificial infant feeding a safer alternative; thus, making bottle feeding more popular. In addition, medical representatives and scientists celebrated this new supposedly convenient way of feeding baby. As a result, breast feeding became comparatively unpopular as figures show that only 20 to 30% of babies were actually breastfed during WWII in the USA. However, the 1980s proved difficult for companies such as Nestlé when their involvement with medical establishments in order to sell formula feeding in the third world was revealed.

Bottle feeding is still the number one choice for many new mothers. This can have different personal or even medical reasons, although modern living standards are mainly to blame for the change in maternal attitude over the past century.

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Here are some guidelines to help you get started comfortably. Always keep in mind that you need to keep it simple and provide nutritionally balanced food. The best option is always organic food as you can be sure of a minimum amount of chemicals used within the growing process. Always label the containers and make a note of the ingredients used in case your baby shows an allergic reaction.

Your baby should be comfortable. Depending on his age, a high chair might not be supportive enough. You can try a Bumbo Baby Seat or a bouncing chair instead.

You should use a rubber-tipped spoon as it is kinder to his gums.

You can start with baby rice as it is gluten free and easy to digest. You can mix it with breast milk or formula so the taste will be familiar. You should keep it fairly liquid to start with as your baby has to get used to the different taste and texture first.

Pick a quiet and relaxed time of day. Your efforts will be more successful when your baby is well rested and both you and your little one make it a fun time together. If you have older children running around the house try to find the best time that fits in with your baby’s and your other child’s routine.

Don’t let baby become too hungry when trying to eat for the first time. It is a good idea to give your baby some milk before you give him solid food so that he is not too hungry and less likely to become upset.

If your baby is ready for his first solid food he will open his mouth and be happy to try it. Don’t get frustrated if he continues to reject it though – just relax and try it again some other time!

Never ever force him to eat and don’t rush it! Babies need time and a smile.

If your baby has had enough of his first food he will show you by turning his head away, refuse to open his mouth again or play with the spoon. Try to read your baby’s signs and respect them. You should discard the remains of the meal and offer him another drink of milk to finish it.

If your baby is happy with his first taste of solid food increase the amount of food slowly. However, keep in mind that milk is the main part of his diet at this stage.

If your baby refuses baby rice or becomes constipated as a result of it, don’t despair. There are other alternatives.

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Experts recommend that baby should ideally be breastfed for at least the first year of his life. Breast milk is nutritionally perfect for your baby’s development and all he needs. In fact, in most non-Western cultures it has been observed that babies are usually breastfed for about 2 years before being weaned. This seems like a long time for us, yet it is perfectly plausible if we consider baby’s delicate immune system that has to sustain harsher living conditions.

In contrast, studies in modern cultures have shown that the average time a baby is breastfed is about 4 months. Some mothers may also decide against breastfeeding altogether because of medical or personal reasons. There are formulas on the market specifically designed for different ages of baby. They represent the only alternative to breast milk as they are designed to be “as close to nature” as artificially possible.

When it is time for baby to taste first solid food, health visitors now follow the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which recommends that no solid food should be introduced before the first 6 months.

However, you may receive contradicting advice from older relatives and friends who advocate the introduction of solid food sooner than 6 months. Whatever your decision, follow your baby’s lead: He will show you if he is interested by watching you eat with eager anticipation or by showing signs of being hungrier than normal and requiring constant breast or bottle feeding.

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Baby recipes & meal ideas

January 21, 2008

feeding_baby_1.jpgAfter you have introduced baby rice successfully, you can add a peeled and boiled carrot and mash a little into the baby rice. This way you introduce the new taste of carrot very gently.

Apply the same method with a baked or stewed apple, or other raw fruits such as banana or pear.

Once your baby gets used to a “vegetable only” or a “fruit only” diet you can introduce vegetable and fruit combinations such as:

Butternut squash and sweet potato

Carrot and potato

Broccoli and potato

Peas and sweet potato

Lentils, carrot and potato

Apple and carrot

Apple and pear

Peach and banana

Apple and plum

This list surely shows that keeping it simple is the best start! The amount and varieties will change according to your baby’s appetite. After some time, you will be able to take a portion out of your family’s dinner for your baby (before adding salt or stock!) and blend it.

If you struggle to find time to prepare home-made food for your little one, you can prepare his meals in advance and freeze the portions.

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