Death of a newborn shows why infants should never be fed solids

We hope this baby's tragic death serves as an eye-opener to parents and other caregivers of infants.

All mums want the best nutrition for their little ones and there’s nothing that worries a parent or caregiver of  a baby more than to hear him crying in hunger. However, it’s crucial that all adults involved in the care of a baby are aware of the child’s nutritional needs based on their age. This is especially crucial when it comes to newborn baby food intake and what they should, and should not eat. 

The importance of newborn baby food intake knowledge has recently been highlighted by a tragic incident, the root of which was pure ignorance. 

In Indonesia, a 10-day-old baby died after his grandmother fed him banana porridge. 

Here is what happened, based on on an account provided by Lia Imelda Siregar — a medical staff member of the emergency department — who treated the baby that fateful day.

newborn baby food intake

Newborn babies do not need any other nourishment other than breastmilk, unless on a paediatrician’s advice.

Importance of newborn baby food intake knowledge

Lia Imelda Siregar shares in a Facebook post details of how the tiny infant died after being fed solid food by his grandmother.

His grandmother obviously had no knowledge about correct newborn baby food intake details, and assumed that solid foods were suitable for a 10-day-old baby. 

“Please don’t give me solid foods, Grandma…” 

Lia recounts the full incident in her Facebook post, translated from Indonesian as follows:

This serves as a lesson for us all. This afternoon,  we were presented with a premature 10-day-old baby. It was just his ninth day and yet his grandmother fed him a bowl of banana porridge.

“The child just kept on crying, Ms. Medic. So I milled rice with bananas. I thought it would be no issue since I fed all my kids the same way and they turned out fine. But fresh blood came out from his rectum, some with a pungent smell… I really regret what I’ve done. Even though I’ve been warned by the midwife before, I was really stubborn. He was 1.8kgs at birth, but it’s reduced to 1.3 kg in 10 days…” The grandmother kept crying. This was her first grandson.

Times are different now. After one hour of struggling to do what we could, the little one passed away.

Grandma… Please don’t ever give solid foods to newborn babies again. We pity that he is struggling to live, with blood coming out of his nose, mouth and anus. Their gut isn’t as strong as ours. Please don’t repeat the same mistake again, Grandma.

We at the ER cannot stand draining his blood just because we caused this from our own negligence. The little one even choked as the small pipe drained the blood that was in his mouth and nose.

 

newborn baby food intake

Go in peace, little one. This heartbreaking moment was reproduced with permission from the grandmother. A grim reminder to all parents and caregivers to arm themselves with newborn baby food intake knowledge, including what NOT to give them.

How netizens reacted 

Lia’s Facebook post recounting the tragic incident went viral, gaining over 5000 comments and shared over 20,000 times. Many netizens expressed their sorrow at the little one’s untimely death. 

Many people also commented that newborn babies should only be breastfed, and never given solid foods.

Sadly, there are still many parents and other caregivers of little ones who do not understand the dangers of introducing solid foods to babies too early, as well as other important details of newborn baby food intake. 

Among those who left comments were mums who shared photos of their children gaining weight because they were supposedly been fed solids since they were two weeks old.

These mothers admitted that they did this because it’s what their own elders did. But the truth is, giving solid foods to newborns can actually endanger the little one’s health, even causing death such as in the case of this baby. 

Reasons to NOT introduce solids to babies less than six months old!

Newborn babies only need to be breastfed exclusively, for up to six months. This will meet all newborn baby food intake and nutritional needs. 

If you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason, the only other suitable food for your newborn is formula milk (one that is formulated for infants). 

An exclusively breastmilk-fed baby will not even need water. And whether on breastmilk or formula, babies do not need solid foods until they are at least six months old. 

Unfortunately however, according to a study published in the journal Paediatrics in 2013, many mothers feed solid foods to babies way too early, without knowing the risks.

Of the 1300 mothers who participated in the study, 40% gave solid foods to their babies who were less than six months old. Half of these babies were fed at four months of age, and half of them were introduced solid foods when they were one month old!

There are important reasons why mums MUST wait until the baby is six months old before introducing solid foods.

  • Solid foods are difficult to swallow and digest. The baby’s digestive system has not developed fully. Therefore, they can’t effectively digest solid foods, even if they are pureed.
  • Solid foods are not as nutritious as breastmilk. Solid foods are lower in the specific nutrients an infant needs to grow and thrive. 
  • Solid foods introduced too early can lead to several health problems, such as allergies and eczema. Researchers have also found an association between introducing solid foods early with chronic diseases such as diabetes and coeliac disease (indigestion due to gluten consumption) as children grow older.

Babies don’t always cry because they are hungry

The mothers who introduced solid foods to their babies early felt that they had good reasons for doing so. For example, they feel that their babies are old enough to digest food, need additional nutrients other than breastmilk or infant formula, or that babies become fussy due to hunger, and so they need food.

Some mothers argue, “Well, maybe my little one will sleep more soundly and happily if I feed her porridge or bananas. Maybe she is crying because of hunger.”

Babies don’t cry due to hunger ONLY, mums! All babies, especially newborn babies, often cry a lot because it is their only method of communication with adults to deliver their needs.

This doesn’t mean that every cry translates to hunger. There could be other reasons. For instance, their diaper is wet, loud noises shocked them, they feel cold, or want to be loved and picked up.

If your little one is under six months old and constantly cries despite breastfeeding, you should consult a paediatrician.

Do NOT recklessly feed your baby solid foods because you think your baby is hungry. At the same time, it is important to educate other caregivers of your baby (especially if they are elderly) on the specifics of newborn baby food intake and requirements. 

Ignorance is dangerous, and as proven in the case of this hapless baby, deadly. 

Share this article with your friends so that more mums and other caregivers of little one understand the dangers of introducing solid foods to babies less than six months of age. 

We at theAsianparent hope that preventable tragedies such as this will not happen again.  

Reference: Cleveland Clinic

Republished with permission from theAsianparent Indonesia. Translated from Indonesian by Kevin Wijaya Oey