Infant Feeding Myths

baby eating

Welcome to the Missouri WIC Participant Nutrition Education website. If you are a WIC participant, please enter your name and State ID number.  Type the Household ID if more than one family member is a participant.

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By the end of this session you will:

  • Identify at least four infant feeding myths.
  • Learn where to get appropriate nutrition information.
  • Plan a strategy  to handle nutrition advice in the media.

Today's understanding of nutrition is based on years of scientific study, yet we hear many myths regarding how to feed an infant.  To make wise food choices, you need sound nutrition information.  What we hear, what we know and what we don't know just may surprise you!  We will take a look at some common myths about infant nutrition.


activity 1



baby sleeping

MYTH: You need to have a good diet to breastfeed your baby or your milk won't nourish the baby properly.
Reality: Studies have shown this to be untrue. It is important for mothers to have good eating habits so they will be healthier and feel better, but this is not necessary for providing quality milk or maintaining milk supply. A mom would not thrive on a poor diet, but her milk would still meet her baby’s needs.

MYTH: Small-breasted women won't have enough milk.
Reality: Either large or small, breast size has nothing to do with the amount of milk a woman will produce. Often, mothers think that their milk supply is low when it really isn't. If your baby is gaining weight well on breastmilk alone, then your milk supply is adequate. The important thing to remember is the more the baby nurses, the more milk your breasts will produce. So breastfeed frequently and don’t supplement with formula.  

Click here for more information on breastfeeding.

MYTH: It's OK to give your infant cow's milk if you run out of formula.
Reality:  Cow's milk should not be introduced to your infant before 11 months of age.  Cow's milk has too much protein for your infant which makes it harder for him to digest.  It also has too many minerals that can be hard on the baby's kidneys.  Cow's milk is low in vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and copper which are important to baby for growth.

MYTH: It's OK to give your infant goat's milk.
Reality:  The same applies for goat's milk when it comes to supplementing milk.  Goat's milk should not be introduced to your infant before 12 months of age. 

MYTH: Iron-Fortified formula causes colic and constipation.
Reality: The fact is, the iron in formulas contain a relatively small amount of iron - only about 12 mg per quart.  But it's enough iron to keep a baby from becoming iron deficient and anemic.  Low iron formulas do not contain enough iron to prevent  this deficiency nor does it prevent constipation.  In a study where parents didn't know which formula they were using, either iron-containing or  low-iron formulas, there was no difference in the digestive tract symptoms.  If parents choose to bottle feed their infants, they should use iron-fortified infant formulas as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.


activity 2

* 1. If you're breastfeeding you should not eat any sweets.
    

* 2. Breast size does not determine the amount of milk that will be produced.
    

* 3.Cow's milk is high in iron and vitamin C.
    

* 4. Iron-fortified formula may help prevent iron deficiency anemia.
    


Child eating

MYTH: Infants need juice.
Reality:  Offering juice early is unnecessary.  Juice does not offer nutritional value to infants; it contains no protein, calcium, fat, or iron.  Juice is mostly water and sugar.  Juice is sweet and too much leaves the child with little appetite for the high-nutrient foods that kids need to support their rapid growth and development.  Wait until a child is drinking from a cup to introduce juice.  There is no need to offer juice from a bottle at all.  It may start a habit that is hard to break or even lead to dental caries.  Missouri WIC does not provide juice to infants less than 12 months old. For toddlers, limit juice to six ounces per day.

MYTH: Dental caries cannot start until an infant has teeth.
Reality:  Decay or cavities can start before your baby has teeth. You can start preventing decay at birth!  Wiping your infant's gums at least once a day with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad will help reduce plaque build up. 

Click here for more information about Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.

MYTH: Infants should be introduced to solid foods when they start getting fussy, even before 4-6 months.
Reality:  When infants are fussy, it doesn't always mean they're hungry.  It might be that the baby needs his diaper changed, he's tired or just wants physical contact.   Introducing solids before baby is physically or developmentally ready is harmful and can lead to allergies.

Here is a reference to feeding your infant:

Infant Feeding Guidelines

Birth to 5 months

Breast milk or formula

*6 months

Breast milk or formula.  Add iron-fortified rice cereal.  Mix 1-2 tablespoon of cereal with breast milk or formula and offer two times daily.

6 months

Iron-fortified rice cereal.  Add plain strained baby vegetables (such as peas, carrots, squash, and green bean) and strained baby fruits (such as bananas, applesauce, peaches, pears, and apricots).  Offer 1-2 tablespoons 2-3 times daily.  Offer one new food every 3-7 days and watch for signs of intolerance (rash, spitting up, or diarrhea).

6-8 months

Breast milk or formula; iron-fortified rice cereal- increase to 4 tablespoons or more daily.  Add plain, strained baby meats (such as beef, veal, lamb, turkey, chicken, or egg yolk).  Offer ½ to 1 tablespoon, one to two times a day.  Again, try one, new meat every 3-7 days and watch for signs of intolerance.  Increase both strained vegetables and fruits to 2 tablespoons or more per day.  You may offer 2-4 ounces of fruit juice, either plain or fortified with vitamin C in a cup.

8-9 months

Breast milk or iron-fortified formula; iron-fortified cereal.  Begin trying mashed and chopped table foods (4 tablespoons or more per day), such as meat, poultry, potato, and well-cooked pieces of vegetable.  Chopped canned fruit may replace strained fruit. Offer ½ slice-1 slice of bread or toast or crackers.

10-12 months

Breast milk or formula; continue iron-fortified cereals (4 tablespoons or more per day).  Add cooked, cut-up pieces of vegetables and soft fruits (4 tablespoons or more per day), and tender meats. Increase amounts according to baby's hunger.

*Only if baby is developmentally ready.  Baby stops pushing food out of mouth with tongue and can support head and sit up with help.

Remember, every baby is different and some may be ready for these foods somewhat later.  Check with your baby's doctor.

MYTH: Infants need to take a vitamin supplement.
Reality: Except for vitamin D, most infants get the recommended amounts of nutrients they need simply from breastmilk or iron-fortified formula until around 6 months of age. After six months, appropriate solids will add the extra nutrients needed. Simply follow the guidelines WIC provides for introducing solids to your infant. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin D supplementation for breastfed infants. Speak to your infant’s health care provider about whether your baby needs vitamins supplements.


activity 3

* 1. Juice supplies empty calories to your infants diet such as sugar.
    

* 2. Dental carries will not begin until after your infant has teeth.
    

* 3. Fussy babies are always hungry.
    

* 4. Solely breastfeeding will supply adequate nutrients until about 4 months.
    


woman on a computer

Where can I learn more about nutrition information?

You may ask your local WIC nutritionists for nutrition education materials.  Or you may log on to the following websites:
http://www.eatright.org
http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=1
http://www.nutrition.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=11&tax_level=1
www.nutritionexplorations.org

Plan a strategy to handle nutrition advice in the media.

If you hear nutrition information in the media you can always contact a professional in nutrition to determine whether it is true or not. You may contact any of the WIC nutritionists to better serve you. 


activity 4

Let's Review!

1. List 4 infant feeding myths:







   


   


Thank you for completing the Infant Feeding Myths Education Component.


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You have completed the Class on “Infant Feeding Myths”. If you have any questions or comments, please contact your LWP nutritionist who will be glad to answer any of your questions. 

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