Fact or Fiction?

Such advice (re: breastfeeding and HIV positivity) reflects the Western prejudice that artificial milks are innocent until proven guilty, whereas breastmilk is guilty until proven innocent.
Short RV. Breastfeeding, birth spacing and their effects on child survival.
Nature. 1988;335:679-82 (page 682)

Fact - Studies show that exclusive breastfeeding may inhibit HIV transmission.

Hourly feeding is exhausting for the mother, painful if you are breastfeeding, unnecessary for the baby, and interferes with his developing more normal and healthy sleep-wake and feeding patterns.

If your baby has been feeding every hour, begin to increase the time between feedings by an amount you feel comfortable with - perhaps 15 minutes per day - until he is being fed every two hours, then every two and a half or three hours.
Ferber. Solve your child’s sleep problems. page 42

Fiction - Babies need to feed on demand.

Regularity of nursing is most important. The infant should always be fed exactly at the stated hour and never at irregular intervals, as this upsets the baby’s routine and soon leads to stomach trouble. If the infant wakes up and cries before the feeding hour he should be examined to see if he is wet, and if so, changed and then offered some plain boiled water. If the infant is asleep at the feeding hour he should be awakened. It is remarkable how these infants learn to wake up at or shortly before the appointed time. After a few days' training they behave like little machines.
Frederick Tisdall. The Home Care of the Infant & Child. JM Dent & Sons Ltd. Lon & Tor 1931

Fiction - Babies need to feed on demand, water is not necessary, don't usually need to wake a sleeping baby, a baby is not a machine. Schedules are for trains.

This disease (rickets) is confined almost exclusively to infants who are artificially fed. ...Just what exists in breast milk that prevents, and what is absent or present in cows' milk which permits or causes the symptoms of rickets to appear, has not been clearly defined.

Fact - the cause is lack of vitamin D. Breastmilk contains a form of vitamin D that is easily assimilated by the baby; the only breast-fed babies who require vitamin D supplements are those who have zero or extremely little exposure to sunlight.

The responsibility for the failure to conserve the maternal milk-supply, while dual, rests with greater weight upon the physician, who, while realizing the value of natural and the dangers and uncertainties of artificial feeding, has failed to become fired with that enthusiasm which the subject demands.
Lowenberg H. A Practical Treatise on Infant Feeding and Allied Topics for Physicians and Students. FA Davis Co. Philadelphia. 1916


We therefore speak of a kidney infarct and a urine infarct; by the latter are indicated the masses of urate passed in the urine which are frequently visible as a brick-red powder, and which appear under the microscope partly as an amorphous and partly as a crystalline precipitate. The phenomenon of the so-called "infarct urine" must be looked upon always as a physiological process, even though it may be absent in some cases.

Most infants sleep during the first hours of life and show no signs of hunger. Should they be awakened they usually fall asleep at once. In the majority of cases this condition lasts the whole of the first day. The rule that a child should not be fed during the first 24 hours may therefore be laid down with confidence.

During the first and often also during the second day of life urine is usually only passed at rare intervals: one to two, or three to four times in twenty-four hours. It also happens not infrequently during the first day that a child does not pass any urine at all; this occurs in actually 34 per cent of all cases, according to Kotscharowski, but is not clinically to be regarded as an alarming symptom.
Diseases of the Newborn. August Ritter von Reuss.William Wood & Co. NY. 1921

Fiction - re not feeding for first 24 hours and not passing urine, crystalline urine can be an indication of dehydration.

They who on meare curiositie (where no urgent necessitie requireth) try whether their children may not as birds be nourished without sucking, offend contrary to this dutie of breast feeding and reflect that meanes which God hath ordained as best; and so oppose their shallow wits to his unsearchable wisdom.
William Gouge, Of domestical duties, 1622


In the very act of lactation there is, by nature, generated such an endearment of the suckled child to the nurse, as that she began it perhaps only for hire, finds herself engaged by a growing affection to supply in some measure the place of the mother to the orphan or deserted babe.
Nihell E. A treatise on the art of midwifery, London 1760


No mineral water--very hard on mothers who need it for biberons. They can always boil the tap water, of course.
Mavis Gallant. The Events in May. A Paris Notebook I


... the idea of bottle feeding just to "involve the father" is one more instance of preserving the status quo at a price to the baby.
Marni Jackson. The Mother Zone. Macfarlane Walter and Ross, Toronto, 1992

Fact - mothers are for feeding, fathers are for playing.

It (bottle feeding) also made a fetish out of cleanliness, and maybe all the washing and scrubbing has further reduced the pleasure we take in our body and in life.

Certainly, before bottle feeding, mothers had no choice but to let the infant suck pleasurably from her body, and in the absence of 'baby foods', this tended to go on for a considerable time. ...A great deal of modern drug and sex behaviour has its roots in the desperate effort to set things aright--to give the pleasure principle a belated chance to assert itself, after denying it too early.
Bruno Bettelheim. The Children of the Dream. Paladin. 1971

Fact - meet baby’s needs now or adult will need to meet them later in life in unhealthy ways.

No one who has seen a baby sinking back satiated from the breast and falling asleep with flushed cheeks and a blissful smile can escape the reflection that this picture persists as a prototype of the expression of sexual satisfaction in later life.
Freud. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) (London: Imago, 1949) p. 60

Negative connotation associating breastfeeding with adult sexual feelings that baby is not capable of having.

The moment it is born, the cord is cut or clamped, the child is exhibited to its mother, and then it is taken away by a nurse to a babyroom called the nursery, so called presumably because the one thing that is not done in it is the nursing of the baby. We live in the logical denouement of the Machine Age, when not only are things increasingly produced by machine but also human beings are turned out to be as machine-like as we can make them, and who therefore see little wrong in dealing with others in a similarly mechanical manner; an age in which it is considered a mark of progress when whatever was formerly done by human beings is taken out of their hands and done by machine. It is reckoned an advance when a bottle of formula can be made to substitute for the contents of the human breast and the experience of the human infant at it ...

The benefits to the mother of immediate breastfeeding are innumerable, not the least of which after the weariness of labor and birth is the emotional gratification, the feeling of strength, the composure, and the sense of fulfillment that comes with the handling and suckling of the baby.
Ashley Montague. Touching. Harper & Row 1978


You may feel some resistance to the idea of such intimacy with an infant who, at first, seems like a stranger. To some mothers it seems better to keep the baby at arm’s length, so to speak, by feeding plans which are not so close.
Infant Care. US Children’s Bureau, HEW. 1963

Bottle feeding propaganda

And hence at our maturer years, when any object of vision is presented to us, which by its waving or spiral lines bears any similitude to the form of the female bosom, whether it is found in a landscape with soft gradations of rising and descending surface, or in the forms of some antique vases, or in other works of the pencil or chisel, we feel a general glow of delight, which seems to influence all our senses;
Erasmus Darwin. Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life. 1794


...a baby nursing at a mother’s breast ...is an undeniable affirmation of our rootedness in nature.
David Suzuki, Toronto Star, April 18, 1992


Mothers ought to bring up and nurse their own children; for they bring them up with greater affection and with greater anxiety, as loving them from the heart, and so to speak, every inch of them.
Plutarch. De Lib. Educ., Cap V


The mothers shall give suck to their offsprings, for two complete years.
Quran Surah II (Baqarah) Verse 233


The La Leche League succeeded by reconstructing the neighbourly networks which medicine had tried to discredit. League members began to trust and rely on one another. Their confidence in their intuitive connection with their children grew; and for both of these reasons, they found it less necessary to rely on doctors, except in emergencies.
David Cayley. CBC radio Ideas. April 1985


In modern consumer society, the attack on mother-child eroticism took its total form; breastfeeding was proscribed and the breasts reserved for the husband’s fetishistic delectation. At the same time, babies were segregated, put into cold beds alone and not picked up if they cried.
Germaine Greer. Sex and Destiny. Harper and Row New York. 1984

Fact - Explains sexualization of the breast and separation of the mother-baby dyad.

In the late 19th century, as the chemical composition of milks was determined, animal milk was modified to approach human milk more closely in gross composition. Milk first was diluted with water, so that protein and electrolyte concentrations were reduced. Babies fed this diluted formula failed to grow. Experiments revealed that caloric density of human and cow’s milk were similar. Subsequently, sugar was added to the mixture. Some infants fed these formulas lived. Manipulating the composition of formulas heralded the advent of Pediatrics as a specialty.
Lewis Barness. Remarks to AAP, March 19, 1991 San Diego, California. In Pediatrics 1991;88:1055

Fact - Explains how formula companies and pediatrics came to be while pointing out some of the shortcomings of formula feeding.

In the near future, it appears prudent to continue recommending full breastfeeding for the term infant. Eventually, formulas may equal breast milk and studies should continue to improve formulas and to make more elegant measurements of outcome.
Lewis Barness. Remarks to the AAP. March 19, 1991. San Diego California. In Pediatrics 1991;88:1056

Fact re breastfeeding for 1 year. Formulas will never equal breastmilk ... no living cells.

As part of Ross Laboratories' ongoing research to ensure our infant formula products provide the very best nutrition, we have increased the level of linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, in our powdered infant formula products.

If mothers do comment on this colour variation, please assure them that it is a modification brought about by an improvement to the product in our continuing effort to provide the very best infant nutrition for their babies.
Letter to health professionals from Ross Laboratories, October 1991

This statement is typical of Formula company progaganda.

They were difficult to keep clean, and infants surely must have found them uncomfortable, but for almost 2000 years, pottery nursers (complete with pottery nipples) were used for feeding babies. Mothers had no choice - glass was unknown at first, then later only a curiosity.
Anonymous. Feeding baby through the ages. Today’s Health (US magazine for general readership). April 1964


A pair of substantial mammary glands has the advantage over the two hemispheres of the most learned professor’s brain, in the art of compounding a nutritious fluid for infants.
Oliver Wendall Holmes


Bread is for us a kind of successor to the motherly breast, and it has been over the centuries responsible for billions of sighs of satisfaction.
Margaret Visser. The Rituals of Dinner. Chapter 1. Behaving.


It is most distressing, for instance, for a man sitting on his beach-front verandah with his family to have a woman with a large family appear, sit calmly upon the edge of the boardwalk and expose her person to feed her baby.
Toronto Evening Telegram, 10 August 1933, page 9. Comment attributed to representative of homeowners of the eastern beaches.


At birth the baby should sleep almost 23 hours out of 24.
He should sleep at least 18 hours a day until 6 months old.
At least 16 hours until 1 year old.
At least 14 hours until 4 years old, part of which should be in the afternoon at a regular hour.
The baby should sleep alone in a room or at least have a crib or a bed to himself.
Never rock a baby to sleep. Never put a baby to sleep in your arms; it is a bad habit, tiresome for yourself and unwholesome for the baby.
Canada’s Baby Book. 17th edition. Rice, Montreal. 1928


If I hadn't had my children, I wouldn't have written more and better, I would have written less and worse.
Margaret Laurence. Quoted by Jay Scott in Chatelaine, October 1989


It is well that a growing infant should cry a little every day. ... The baby should be made to cry every day by slapping him on the buttocks.
The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 42

Fiction - Babies cry for a reason ... Crying is a late hunger cue.

The selection of the nurse-maid is a matter of considerable importance. ...Women who are of about middle age, at which time the attractive qualities of policemen and grocery-boys have faded into a dim recollection..very often make capable attendants.
The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 6-7


When the baby is just born, and during the first few days of life, it is very little more intelligent than a vegetable.
The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 52-3


If these parts are not kept thoroughly clean, secretions may form to such an extent as to act as foreign bodies, drawing the child’s attention to the parts and in this way frequently lead to masturbation.
The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 29


Badly managed and spoiled infants often cry vigorously when left alone, and when attention is given to them and they are taken up or talked to, the crying ceases. page 43
The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 43

Fiction - can't spoil a baby, crying is a late hunger cue or baby is in discomfort.

Community traditions of midwifery and mutual aid were discredited as women were urged to trust their doctors rather than their neighbours or themselves. Medically prescribed childbirth became an alienating surgical procedure and child rearing a rigid clockwork routine devoid of sensual pleasure.

... People came to accept the idea that relevant knowledge about children and childbirth was vested in professional experts who stood outside the network of family and community relationships.

By becoming merely the agents of the latest theory, mothers gave up the last vestige of their traditional authority and independence.
David Cayley. Ideas. Doctoring the Family. CBC radio. April 85

Fact - explains how mothers have been manipulated by the medical profession.

A young baby is sufficient unto himself. He derives all necessary stimulation from his own activities and his own immediate surroundings. Playing with a young baby is never necessary and it is often harmful ... A little play in the middle of the afternoon, say for 10 or 15 minutes, with a baby of four months or over may be permitted ... The best practice is to have a physician trained in the care of children to look after the baby from birth, to whom all matters of this sort may be referred.
Alton Goldbloom. The Care of the Child. Longmans Green. Toronto 1928

Fiction - babies are born with only 25% of their adult brain capacity. Left alone, they will die. Babies who are fed but not held also die.

When the baby is crying, whether it is during the day or night, rocking, walking the floor, shaking or otherwise agitating the baby must be rigorously avoided. Few people realize the importance of vigorous, lusty crying in a healthy infant. It is as essential to the infant as exercise is to the adult. It is, in fact, the infant’s daily exercise. All young babies should have a crying period during each day ... The infant who cries regularly between 5 and 6, or 8 and 10 o'clock in the evening is doing what is called "reflex crying". It is not to be assumed under such conditions that he is suffering either discomfort or pain, but it is to be taken for granted that such crying is good for the baby and is as important as food.
Alton Goldbloom 1928

Fiction - today we know this period of crying as "grandmother’s hour" when mothers typically call their own mothers to come and lend a hand. Milk supply tends to be lower in the afternoon and baby becomes fussy.

The environment of the child must be guided by the physician. He must give advice concerning the details of early training in obedience, habit formation, temper tantrums etc. How often do we see the young infant stop crying at two weeks of age when it is picked up by either parent. Herein lies the potential juvenile court case. Unless the parents are guided by the physician, even at this early stage, the infant soon learns to put one over on its parents.
Alan Brown

Fiction - a baby is not capable of manipulating it’s parents. Babies cry for a reason.

... the American imagination demands the real thing and, to attain it, must fabricate the absolute fake;
Umberto Eco. Travels in Hyperreality


Obviously advertising works.
Leslie Chester, business director for the confectionery division Nestlé Canada. Globe and Mail, November 9, 1993

Nestle is a formula company ... Example of Formula company propaganda

The environmental impact of the Great Flood of '93 will be tremendous and long-lasting, say scientists, and will illustrate how a century of levee-building and dam-constructing has taken a natural river system and turned it into something artificial, and perhaps even more dangerous.
William Booth, The Washington Post. Reprinted in Guardian Weekly, July 25, 1993

The same can be said of Breast vs Bottle

The recognition of oneself as part of nature, and reliance on natural things, are disappearing for hundreds of millions of people who do not know that anything is being lost.
Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels. (Clement Hollier to Mamusia Laoutaro)


The hidden intention is to go to the limit, to see how far can we ride the tiger. The more we know about the responsiveness of nature, the more somehow you can test the limits.
Wolfgang Sachs. Ideas (CBC Radio), June 1990


It is fortunate for the future of the human race that young women are transferring their allegiance from crochet and embroidery-needles to golf ...
The Normal Child by Alan Brown. Frederick D. Goodchild. Toronto. 1923 p. 43

Negative - encourages the mother to leave the home

If you can measure that of which you speak, and can express it by a number, you know something of your subject; but if you cannot measure it, your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory.
Lord Kelvin

Negative - refers to the misconception that when bottle feeding you can see how many ounces the baby is getting but with breastfeeding you can't state a "number"so you can't tell how much baby is taking in. Mothers need to learn to 'read' their babies' diapers. 6-8 soaking wet diapers, clear urine, and 2-5 poops per day means baby is getting enough to eat. If it’s coming out, it’s going in.

Do not expect that you will make any lasting or very strong impression on the world through intellectual power without the use of an equal amount of conscience and heart.
William Jewett Tucker (Principal of Dartmouth University, beginning century)


The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
John F Kennedy


People who value their privileges above their principles soon lose both.
Dwight D Eisenhower


Some people reach the top of the ladder only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall.
(Unknown source)


We must be the changes we wish to see in the world.


Compiled by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC