Meigs Health Matters… Feeding baby: What you need to know


By Jenna Petry - Meigs Health Matters



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As the WIC Certifying Health Professional at the Meigs County Health Dept., part of my job is encouraging breastfeeding. Breast milk is specifically made for the baby. It’s precisely why we, as female human beings, have mammary glands. Breast milk gives a baby the best possible start to a healthy immune system, healthy diet, healthy digestive system, higher IQ performance, etc.

I have been advising pregnant women for about two years that if ever they considered breastfeeding, now is the time. When the pandemic hit our area along with the rest of the country, we saw a shortage in local supplies of formula. We heard horror stories of people purchasing formula when they didn’t have an infant, and people hoarding large quantities of formula and baby food. I didn’t see the issue getting better for several years and, unfortunately, I was correct. For one reason large quantities of our formula supplies have been sent to the southern border which has made it necessary to import formula from Europe and another reason is manufacturing issues.

Unfortunately, some women are unable to breastfeed for a multitude of reasons. Some infants have issues which keep them from breastfeeding, so in some cases formula is the only option for the first six months of life. Infants should have breast milk or formula for the first year of life, but at about 6 months of age is when cereal and baby foods are added to their diet. Though a lot of parents want to start with feeding their infants fruits, it is always best to start with the vegetables. As I have told WIC participants routinely, if you give the fruits before the vegetables, it’s like giving the dessert before the meal. You are setting yourself up to have a picky eater. Each food should be tried for about two to three days to rule out an allergic reaction. Once they’ve tried all the vegetables, you can begin including the fruits, but don’t forget to continue the vegetables!

Now you have to think, when it comes to baby food (not formula) it is just pureed fruits and vegetables. That’s easy enough to make if you can’t find it or if stores limit how many containers you can purchase (which some are doing). After all, back in the day, our forefathers didn’t travel across the prairie in search of tiny jars filled with pureed fruit. They made it themselves. When they were unable to feed their infants, they sought out a wet-nurse or another mother willing to nurse the infant or supply breastmilk. Thankfully, today’s technology makes it much simpler to locate donor sites and breastmilk banks. Another substitute for mothers unable to breastfeed was goat milk. It is very similar to human milk, but because it has smaller fat globules, it is much easier to digest. For anyone with digestive issues or lactose intolerance, goat milk may be the solution. It is much easier for the body to break down and is very similar to human breast milk. If goat milk formula is something you may be interested in, do your research first. As with any change to your infant’s feeding regime, talk with your child’s pediatrician first. There are plenty of sites online with information and recipes. Just be sure to use a reputable one.

The transition to table foods usually begins at 1 year of age. This is also when formula fed babies switch to whole milk. Whole milk is the best option versus 2% or skim because little ones need the lipids or fats in the whole milk for brain development, and as always keep their diet well rounded with plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables.

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By Jenna Petry

Meigs Health Matters

Jenna Petry, RN, is a WIC Certifying Health Professional at the Meigs County Health Department.

Jenna Petry, RN, is a WIC Certifying Health Professional at the Meigs County Health Department.