Monday, June 27, 2011

How NOT to Feed an Infant

The conversation started out innocently enough. My maid, who saves my ass twice a week, asked me what I did for my youngest's gas when he was a baby. She remembers that we had a terrible time.

I told her this and that and asked what was going on. Turns out, her friend's 2 month old, who was born premature, is really suffering from gas and cramps.

The subject quickly turned to milk. He is not being breastfed, hospital stay nipped that in the butt, instead Momma is giving him regular boxed milk made for 2 year olds!

Say what?!

Well, I guess we've figured out the pain issue! Oh yes, my maid continued by telling me that the Mother said the baby didn't take to formula very well. Well, let's just give him milk fortified especially made for older children. That won't cause problems. And seeing that he is two months old, you've really been trying to get him to like it, haven't you.

And this is not abnormal here. Another friend of mine had to intervene when she found out a neighbor was giving the baby goat milk straight from the goat. I know that has been done before and kids turn out ok, but we know better now. Or we should.

The desire to give small babies real food here is ridiculous. People will give a 2 month old porridge made of cornmeal. They give the caldo do feijao (sauce created from making black beans) to little little babies. It's insanity. I get gas from that. What do you think will happen to a 4 month old? But people say they like it. Of course they like it! It's the most flavor they've experienced in their little lives, aside from that sip of Coca cola you just gave them.

And this isn't just a poverty thing. Ok, maybe the milk is but not the food. I had to smack hands away that were trying to shove cake frosting into my 3 month old's mouth. My feelings, he's 3 month olds people! Boob is the cat's pajamas for him.

So what did I do about all this? I went out and bought appropriate formula, made for sensitive tummies. It's expensive here but I figure maybe a couple of days of a happy baby will make Mommy open up her eyes.


  1. Amazing what people want to give babies in Brazil. I am a man who lacks training with children, except for babysitting often during my teens ( and even then all the kids were over 4), well even I know that you aren't supposed to give Bean Soup and Cake Frosting to a baby. It is hard to believe that people can really be that stupid.
    I hope the one mother who is basically giving her infant milk on steriods (that is how his body percieves it) comes to her senses.

  2. It makes me so angry that the formula companies have the hospitals doing this - they don't give time for bonding and nursing in the hospital, and they convince moms that they can't create enough milk to properly feed their baby. What they don't seem to care about is that many of the mom's here can't afford formula, so they end up giving condensed milk with water or giving very diluted formula. Not to mention the water here isn't the safest - and many houses outside of the cities still don't have water at all.

  3. I hope she does too... And you have no idea what they give to babies. Raw oranges to suck on at months old. Sure, juice but dude, it's supposed to only be breastmilk!

    I don't know exactly what happened at the hospital but the Mother could only go in the evenings. A lot of public hospitals have strange visiting hours. You would hope that they would be open to having the mother in nursing.

  4. I recall my mother-in-law telling me how to "make" baby formula with evaporated milk and karo syrup. I think I'm more on board with the goat milk. I'm amazed by what people give babies. Even our paediatrician was talking about weighted feeds (adding rice cereal) when my daughter was gassy at a few weeks old.

  5. Kelly,

    You must be confusing Brazil with some other country, Brazil has very safe water, I never heard of anyone getting sick from drinking water anywhere in Brazil.
    The water is treated with "fluoride" and is 100% safe to drink, and over 99% of Brazilian homes have good quality treated water.
    Rio de Janeiro has one of the largest Water Treatment facilities in the world and it has been around for a long time.
    Brazil also has a very strict food production control. You will never here of issues with E-Coli in produce for example, we have E-Coli scares in the US and even in Europe recently but you will never hear about that in Brazil.
    I am the first one to admit and criticize the many problems we find in Brazil, but what is fair is fair, and I never heard of water or ice not being safe to drink in Brazil.
    I understand that if you travel around Mexico you need to be careful, I have gotten sick from ice in Mexico, but I never heard of this issue in Brazil.


  6. I forgot to mention that Brazilians love to give strong coffee with milk to small babies, we all grew up on it and we turned out ok.
    Probably not young, young babies, but we drink coffee in the baby bottles like there is no tomorrow. :)


  7. The water in Brazil safe to drink? That is definitely NOT the case in the northern areas of the country. In Belem do Para, the water must be filtered in each home with a pretty strong filter before it is safe to drink. You would never, never drink straight from the tap, unless you wanted to get parasites and amoebas. Maybe southern brazil is different, but in Belem, the water must be filtered.

  8. Yeah Ray, going to have to agree with Anonymous about the water. The majority of homes have water filters. I have one. I do not drink straight from the tap. I don't have the stomach for it. Hell, I don't even cook (boiling water) from the tap. I use all filtered.

    My MIL is the same. All filtered. I know many people who use tap water to boil things or in their tea. And no, people down here aren't getting sick from it. And Brazilians can handle it better than foreigners. But the recommendation is to drink filtered water. Even water fountains have filters on them

  9. Dude, they gave coffee to the 1 yr class. The daycare's reasoning, there's a lot of milk in it. I threw a huge fit only to find out later that they gave it to him anyway. He wanted it, and you know how good Brazilians are at saying no to a little guy. This goes double when they don't agree with Mom in the first place ;)

    I will point out though, that kids get good, natural juice from a young age. I was super anal about my oldest not having juice for at least the first year like they say in the US. My MIL pointed out that the juice here does not come in a box and you don't add sugar for the kids. She had a point. Mango juice, grape juice, papaya and orange juice, watermelon juice, beat carrot and orange juice, etc etc were all a part of my boys' diet. That is a plus!

  10. Anonymous,

    You are right, I am from Sao Paulo and not familiar at all with Belem, but had never heard of people getting sick from drinking the water any where in Brazil.


    I understand what you are saying, people in Brazil are paranoid with cleaning things, from produce, to bathrooms to water, my mother filters water as well, but she filters it because of the taste, filtering the tap water is mainly done because of taste, but you don't get sick from drinking tap water, there are strick standards and controls and laws that guarantees safe water to every tap every where.
    Brazil is absolutely not the type of place one should be worried about getting sick from water or ice from tap.
    But you are correct, people have the habit to filter water, the most common used to be these large clay filters, now, the little automatic carbon filters and filters installed directly on the taps are more common, but again, they are usually to make water taste better, not to prevent you from getting sick.


  11. They do not just change the taste. And people are using the clay ones less and less and the on the tap ones more. I always know when I've had unfiltered water because I get stomach cramps. I don't get sick but I do get sick to my stomach

  12. Oh, I never heard of that, but I hear you, if it gives you stomach cramps, there might be something to it.
    I am literally traumatized with "bad" unsafe tap water, every time I go to Mexico I get sick, I've gotten sick from brushing my teeth with tap water in Guadalajara, they always have HUGE "Nestle" bottles of water at the Bathrooms, and I am talking about 5 star Hotels, the bottle water is for brushing teeth too.
    Not to mention all the food poisoning you can get from different restaurants.
    They have a real hard time to keep their poop away from the water supply, go figure.
    I always knew water is serious business in Brazil, just to give you an example, my parents building has an underground water spring and oozes crystal clear water from the underground night and day, the condominium was forced to dump the water on the sidewalk for years, they weren't even allowed to use it for the gardens, grass or swimming pool, now, they finally got an approval from "SABESP" ( Sao Paulo's water company ) the permit allows them to use the underground spring water to wash the sidewalks, water the gardens and grass and for the swimming pool.
    Come to think about it, many people in the US have also been using those little "tap filters" attached to the kitchen sinks, we have never used tap water here either, we buy spring water and use it for drinking and cooking, but it's mainly because I can't stand the taste of the tap water here.

  13. I do have to drink the actual water. I am fine brushing my teeth and stuff like that. I have heard horror stories about the water in Mexico... Although I was also told not to drink the tap water in Spain for some reason. I did anyway and was fine. It tasted funny but got the job done.

    I have heard about the underground water in Brazil. I can't believe they had one in their building!

  14. rachel water is spain has a lot of limestone. It tastes funny but its safe to drink.

  15. Rachel,

    Sao Paulo has spring water oozing EVERYWHERE, it causes more problems that you would imagine, I have friends who have to re-do their phone lines every 3 or 4 years because their have a spring water foutain oozing water in between the walls of their house and their neighbor's house.
    Many streets just crack open and crystal clear water starts to ooze out and creates a lot of pot holes all over the city, many buildings find water springs when they dig underground for the garages, so they built pumps under the garages to constantly pump the water out to the sidewalks, 24 hours a day, and condominiums rarely ever get a permit to use that water to wash sidewalks and water yards, it's a long, complicated process, the Water company have to run many tests on the water and run thru all the red tape, may I remind you that the water company is state owned, hence all the bureacracy.
    So many places have problems from lack of water, Sao Paulo has a lot of problems from too much water oozing out of everywhere.


  16. My uncle worked for CEDAE (old water company in Rio) and we've been there on school trips to see how the work is done. It's mind boggling the amount of treatment and care water receives in Brazil. I am not implying Rachel is lying when she says that she gets cramps after drinking tap water, as it's entirely possible - she's not used to it. We never drank it in my house when I lived in Rio, because brazilians are indeed a bit on the paranoid side about things being "clean". But to say the water here is UNSAFE to drink is not correct. Most of contamination, when it happens, will happen in poorer areas when there is dirt on the local pipe system, leeking sewage, that sort of thing. That has nothing to do with the quality of the water itself. In London, where I now live, the water is hard (high mineral content). It destroys your hair *and* your electric kettle. :) It is absolutely safe to drink and most people would not doubt that, but there are people who never get used to drink tap water in London. I may be one of them. I believe that, in the end, is a matter of getting used to it since you're a child, wherever you are. :)

  17. As for baby food, there is indeed formula meant for very small babies when the mother cannot or does not want to breastfeed. Milk meant to older kids can or cannot cause gas and cramps - but if your baby is crying all day for no reason, time to review that diet! I was raised on good old Nan appropriate for my age, but when I was six months old you could find the whole food pyramid inside my bottle. :)

    That story reminded me of when I was still at uni for my Nutrition degree. We did voluntary work through Uni-Rio giving advice to young mothers. One of them arrived with her 4 month old baby girl happily suckling on a piece of meat (!). The mother later informed us the little girl was already eating mashed black beans, too. To every advice we gave her on what to feed the baby, she'd chuckle and point out she had been introduced to it ages ago. I took a look at the smiling girl (mother reported no health issues) and her two older siblings, all looking healthy and happy, thought of all the starving children in the world and finished my consultation by waving her away with a laugh.

    p.s.: I've heard that in America doctors will advise against giving dilluted fruit juice to babies (even after 6 months). That I do not understand, but each culture has its own food prejudices and that's ok. :)

  18. There is a difference between letting a 4 month old suck on some meat and giving them a bottle of regular cow's milk. BIG difference. I let my son teeth on steak at 4 months. Works great!

    And I think the American juice this is because we don't drink the natural juices you do. Everything is boxed and goodness knows when it was last an actual fruit. Not to mention all the sugar. I was funny about this because I was raised with that rule but I let my boys have the real fruit juice with no sugar.

    I also did the Brazilian style homemade food with garlic and onions included.

    But to give a 2 month old Ninho! That is insanity!

  19. Here comes the Devil's advocate; I grew up brushing with water from the tap in Mexico City (yes, THE most polluted city in the world during the 80s), and then moved on to drinking it when my dad said he'd always done so. Never got sick from it.
    First time I was in Brazil for work in SP in a nice hotel and all, I got the equivalent of Moctezuma's revenge with a vengance!
    My point? You'll get sick from whatever your body is not used to.
    (Posting Anon because my computer is going crazy every time I go into Google acc, it's Andrea here!)

  20. Andrea, exactly what I'm saying about the water here. I am not used to it and I do not have a sensitive stomach. You mam, Mexico city, do not either!