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What in the World do I Feed my Kids? (Part I)

November 19, 2009

The other day, I took my one-year-old to a pediatric dietitian.  Over the last several months, her weight hasn’t been keeping up with her height, so the pediatrician thought it wise to get some nutritional guidance.

I got plenty of guidance at that visit, but how do I apply it? The dietitian thought I should:

  • wean the baby off breastfeeding and feed her plenty of formula
  • feed her every 4 hours (no snacks of any kind in between – not even fruit)
  • stay away from whole grains and opt for refined flours instead.

I left the office contemplating which one of the suggestions was the most bizarre.  On the face of it, the advice goes against everything we seem to know about nutrition. Whole grains are more nutritious than white, breast milk is preferable to formula, and many small meals better than three  square ones.

The last point really took me by surprise, but from conversations with several other people, including a registered dietitian, it seems that the extra fiber in whole grains interferes with absorption of certain minerals and causes babies to feel full faster, preventing them from eating more calories.

But as much as I didn’t welcome the idea of setting up a separate pantry for the little one, it was the first suggestion that left me clueless. Unlike our other four kids, this one has a host of allergies, including… milk, making milk-based formula a non-option. And as long as the jury is out on the safety of soy, I have no intention of pumping her with a quart of soy-based formula each day.

So now what do I do? Any ideas?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    November 20, 2009 3:00 am

    Avocado is a great choice for both nutrition and calories. As the mother of a very skinny toddler, I also shamelessly suggest offering foods with extra olive oil…squash or sweet potatoes whipped with olive oil, couscous with olive oil, bread dipped in olive oil, etc. has a great discussion forum for all kinds of issues related to natural family living, nutrition and parenting — you may want ot consider getting some input there.

  2. Karen permalink
    November 20, 2009 3:01 am

    Oh, and I wanted to add — DO NOT WEAN! Your milk is the best possible food for supporting her immune system and nutritional needs!

  3. November 20, 2009 6:01 am

    Breast milk is high in calories. If you wean her, there’s not guarantee she’ll eat other foods to make up for those calories. One way that formula is equivalent to breastmilk is in calorie count, anyway.
    How skinny is she? What percentile? Is she developing normally? Could she have allergies you haven’t picked up on yet? Has she been tested for anemia and other issues? Is she happy, or kvetchy most of the time? Do you think she is really hungry, or is she eating enough for her? Are other family members so slim? Has she always gained slowly?
    Try to get a copy of Carlos Gonzalez’ book, My Baby Won’t Eat. I loved it, but some critics thought what he wrote didn’t apply to severely allergic children. He says that if the child is healthy you can more or less trust them to eat as much as they need.
    I don’t understand the reason for waiting four hours between meals, either.

    • Leah permalink*
      November 20, 2009 10:52 am

      @Karen – Thank you for your suggestions. Now that avocado is in season, I give it to her almost every day. More oil is also a great idea. The dietitian was emphatic that my milk is not high quality and that it doesn’t provide the necessary nutrition any more.

      @Hannah – She eats nicely most of the time and she doesn’t seem to be hungry. She is very active and has been walking since she turned one. She was in 50th percentile until about 6 months old. When I tried offering solids she wouldn’t eat them and was very kvetchy. It was then that she went down to 4th percentile. She’s then she’s been at around the 4th percentile and did not make up what she had lost.

      • November 29, 2009 8:28 pm

        I also don’t understand the thought behind weaning off breastmilk (something great for immune system) and give formula instead (which can be allergenic for some)….I find that so many doctors don’t understand the first thing about breastmilk. Wean on your own terms. I also don’t get waiting several hours between meals – no snacks. Would the doctors suggest that for themselves?

        And refined flours?? Sigh!

        • Leah permalink*
          November 30, 2009 5:48 am

          Thanks for reading. Look, from the dietitian’s perspective it is safer to feed the baby 3 quantifiable bottles of formula than 3 feeds of breast milk, which always remain an unknown.

  4. keren permalink
    November 30, 2009 8:02 am

    According to research the calorie content of mother’s milk increases as the child gets older. Formula is mostly water!

    Apart from Avocado, give bananas and batata.

    There is no such thing as milk not being of a high quality. If one stops the milk you cannot get it back.

    • Leah permalink*
      November 30, 2009 8:28 am

      Keren, yams are a great idea. She can’t stand bananas (a first for me) but yams should go well by her.


  5. July 19, 2014 11:32 am

    You are so awesome! I don’t suppose I’ve read through anything like this before.
    So great to discover somebody with unique thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of


  1. On Breastfeeding and Growth Charts « Ingathered
  2. The Mystery Factor in Mother’s Milk « Ingathered
  3. Child Put in Foster Care When Parents Refused to Feed Him Junk Food | A Mother in Israel

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