Do you accept that your baby is born immature?
I mean, they cannot walk, they cannot talk, they can't even see properly at first. And it take quite some time for these skills, and others to develop.
And we accept that the invisible stuff is also immature - like their emotional development, their bone structure, their muscle control and much more...
So why then, do we assume that their digestive system is any different?
Because it isn't.
A paper written way back in 1989 in a WHO Bulletin but James Akre outlined detailed the enzyme differences between a baby and an older toddler and adult. And when we take into account that these natural immaturities take time to develop, then we start to understand that it can be a source of discomfort to our children.
This image (taken from The Baby Reflux Lady's Survival Guide) gives an overview of what is happening inside your baby's body.
It is so important, because when we understand this, we can make different food choices for our babies that support their bodies rather than causing irritation.
The detail of how all this impacts your baby is important too and it's all outlined in my book. The overview: your baby cannot break down complex carbohydrates or complex proteins properly in the first 2 years of life and so they cause irritation:
They ferment in the gut causing bloating, wind and abdominal discomfort.
They can absorb lots of fluid from your baby's digestive system and cause constipation
They can be misinterpreted by your baby's body as threats and so instigate an allergic response.
All of these things your baby will "grow out of", or rather their digestive system will mature normally to be able to digest normal foods. However, if they experience too much irritation of their gut in the early years, this can cause inflammation. And inflammation in the gut is not a pretty thing.
In fact, inflammation in baby's gut means that their digestive system cannot develop normally and they may continue to suffer indefinitely with digestive issues.
Other things that are associated with poor gut health in children are bad behaviour and poor sleep, and kids even get labelled as having ADHD when in fact, the root cause is unresolved reflux due to an immature digestive system.
Now an immature digestive system doesn't only affect babies with reflux, and it is not the only cause of reflux either. Read this post on the causes of reflux.
You will know your baby's system is maturing when they start getting their teeth. Funnily enough, the teeth are a part of the digestive system and so we can use them as an external gauge on their internal maturity.
In the meantime, your baby needs foods that are going to build their brain. 70% of the brain is fat and your baby's stomach has a superpower of fat digestion in the first 2 years of life to support this time of brain development and growth. Because at no other time in life does the brain grow so quickly or so rapidly.
Your baby is designed to thrive on fats. Good quality fats. So don't be worried about giving them to them.
A word of warning however, if your baby is taking gastric acid suppression medications (e.g. ranitidine or omeprazole etc) then they drastically change your baby's stomachs ability to breakdown fats correctly. We can speculate at the impacts of these because no-one has yet done any research on these.
I've written an entirely new approach introducing solids to babies with reflux because of this natural immaturity. When we give our children the foods they need and can digest, they thrive. Click here to find out more.
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If you want to know how to support your baby's digestive development when weaning, what to avoid, what foods to offer and much more, click here.
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