Within days of your baby’s birth, your breast milk appears, as if by magic. It’s exactly what the doctor, and your baby, ordered. This sweet, nutritious, easy-to-digest food gives your newborn an almost constant flow of nourishment, just like she had inside the womb.
Early in the 1900s, after millions of years of being developed to perfection, mother’s milk was suddenly abandoned in many parts of the world. It was nudged aside by mass-produced artificial formula that was promoted as equally healthful and more hygienic than mother’s milk. Many women were convinced that scientists knew better than nature. They fed their babies formula, mistakenly believing that the product of a chemist was better than the old-fashioned product of their own breasts.
Mothers asked their doctors for medicine to dry up their breast milk and to recommend their favorite commercial formula. By the 1950s, breast-feeding became so rare in America that the women who tried it were considered radical or eccentric.
Moms who still wanted to breast-feed often failed because they had no personal experience and little professional guidance. As unbelievable as it sounds, within two generations our culture almost lost this basic human ability that had sustained our species for millions of years! Fortunately, many committed women (and men) were appalled by this lack of support. Through their great efforts, groups like La Leche League were launched and specialists were trained to help new mothers rediscover this wonderful skill.
In recent years, public interest in breast-feeding has dramatically rebounded, spurred by an avalanche of research revealing the shortcomings of formula and the benefits of breast milk. Scientific studies show that breast milk helps build babies’ brains, boosts their immunity, protects them against diabetes, and lowers a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Today, breast milk is so universally accepted as the preferred food for babies that even formula companies recommend women use their product only if they can’t breast-feed.
I’m thankful we have excellent artificial formulas to feed babies who are unable to feed at their mother’s breast. However, all medical groups agree, if you can do it, “breast is best” for feeding your baby.
What reflexes are, and the many built-in behaviors and skills all babies are born with
The Calming Reflex: Your baby’s Off switch for crying
The 5 “S’s”: How to turn on your baby’s calming reflex
Vigor: The essential tip for calming your little cave baby
Three reasons your baby may take time to respond to the 5 “S’s”
Most people who have taken care of a fussy infant wonder at some point: “Wouldn’t it be great if babies came with a secret button to turn off their crying?”
Now don’t laugh, it’s not such a wild idea. Since babies wail as loud as car alarms, shouldn’t there also be a way to turn their “alarm” off?
Well, the good news is, there is! I call this Off switch the calming reflex, and, as you will soon learn, it works almost as quickly as the car-alarm reset button on your key chain. But first, let’s review what reflexes are and how they work.