Parenting By The Book


Daddy wants Baby to breastfeed exclusively, no matter how much his own mother protests

Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life. Expectant mothers are repeatedly handed this message during their prenatal clinic sessions. But to my mother and her ilk, that exhortation is purely pedantic.

To her, it is one of the many ways modern researchers have complicated what should otherwise be a very simple life. “We have always defied it, and nothing bad has happened to our children, including you,” she once told me. If anything, she said, their children have been healthier than they suspect they would have been had they been exclusively breastfed for half a year.

So, it came as a surprise to mother and company when I insisted that Bradley be fed on nothing but his mother’s milk until he was six months old. That would be quite a feat, in my mother’s estimates.

Consequently, Bradley’s weaning was done slyly, without my awareness or approval. Moreen, Bradley’s mother, was hoodwinked into introducing Bradley to milk and gruel – by her mother, as it so happens – when she visited her in the countryside.

According to the two mothers, exclusive breastfeeding left the baby and his mother emaciated. It was even worse for the mother, they reasoned, if the baby is a boy. Boys, they told me, tend to feed a lot.

They argued that in its second month, a baby should be introduced to such soft foods as milk and gruel which would literally ‘fatten the child’ and take the pressure off the mother. In any case, some of the babies that had been taken through the process (and to whom my mother directed my attention) looked healthy! Even more worrying was their argument that exclusive breastfeeding of the baby would suck the mother dry. Interestingly, I noticed that Moreen was not as healthy and plump as she had been when she gave birth to Bradley.

They exhorted me to leave book-based parenting alone, and focus on real life. But according to Moreen’s maternity book and the doctor’s prescription, among the health benefits the baby would enjoy as a result of being exclusively breastfed for the first six months was having a strong immune system.

And I think it is true. The rate at which Bradley has been attacked by such minor ailments as the common cold has not been that devastating. I am inclined to believe this is due to my book-parenting. With my second kid, I will ruthlessly implement this ordinance to the letter because I would like him or her to be as strong and healthy as Bradley.

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