Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Instinct vs. Prescription

In another example of common sense proving wiser than scientific advice, mounting evidence is reversing many of the baby feeding "rules" we were all given by our doctors:

...rice cereal may not be the best first food. Peanut butter doesn't have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering fruits before vegetables won't breed a sweet tooth. And strong spices? Bring 'em on.

I remember having my five-month old son at a picnic and someone saying, "give him some of this watermelon to suck on." I was mortified. We were only just introducing strained carrots, the first non-cereal solid, to his diet.

As parents of multiple children can appreciate, by the time our second son came around, he got much more of his solid food right off our dinner plates. We "pre-chewed" it if it was something tough, but otherwise, let him gum his way through things.

The experience of breastfeeding was similar. The first time around I tried to remember all the specific, and often competing, guidelines: nurse the baby every 2-3 hours; don't let the baby sleep through a feeding; don't wake a sleeping baby; feed 10 minutes on each side; empty one breast completely before switching.

When my second was born, they kept coming in at the hospital to do breastfeeding assessments. They'd ask when his last feeding was, how long he ate, etc. I made up answers to get them to leave as quickly as possible. He ate when he ate. He did fine.

I know it happens at all levels. Postmenopausal women are told to take hormone supplements, then told they should not take supplements. Butter is bad for you; butter is better than the alternatives.

I don't blame the doctors. But when it comes to these all-knowing pronouncements, especially ones that run counter to what I as a surviving product of thousands of years of natural selection would instinctively do, I am becoming increasingly skeptical.


Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

You are right about sweeping pronouncements...sometimes it's best to listen within.


7:23 AM  

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