Baby on diet 2

Early this week, baby Alex reversed his dieting plan and went on a feeding binge. I went along with it and even gave him a few 150ml feeds, and he took them all and consumed 1 liter of milk a day. Last Wednesday, we took him to the Polyclinic (medical clinic run by the government) for his first Pneumococcus vaccination and strangely from that afternoon he didn’t finish his feeds and I suspect he is reverting back to dieting. Anyway we went to the Polyclinic instead of Thomson Pediatric Center, unlike previously, for the jabs because this vaccination can be paid using Medisave (medical fund account, which is part of the pension fund, that’s managed by the government). I’m not sure why but the Ministry of Health allows the Medisave to be used only for Pneumococcus and MMR vaccinations, and even then the maximum amount to be used per account is only S$400. For those not in the know, there are 3 Pneumococcus jabs at S$150 each and 2 MMR jabs (not sure the cost though), my husband and I are going to use our Medisave accounts to cover the costs as much as possible.

There are so many regulations on using the Medisave that the funds are hardly touched (and cannot be withdrawn), so we might as well make full use of them when we can. Not all pediatric clinics allow the withdrawal of Medisave to pay for the vaccinations though, like Thomson Pediatric Center doesn’t have this flexibility, which according to Dr OK (Anita Menon), the hospital management thinks it is a hassle to set up the administrative procedure with the government board for the withdrawl (bull crap if you ask me). With Medisave, at least we don’t have to pay out of pocket. Well, the funds in Medisave accounts come from our wages but they are compulsory deductions, and they can only be used for specific purposes like hospitalization, and cannot be used for outpatient costs.

Anyway I digress a little, but it turns out that baby/child vaccination is done pretty quickly at the Polycinic and there is no queue time unlike for adults. (I went for a consultation there a couple of weeks ago and had to wait bloody long for it and swear I would not return when I’ve to see a doctor.) The senior nurse who attended to Alex and me was pretty thorough; she asked a number of questions on Alex, like if he had fever or fits after his previous jab, if he was ill recently, and she also wanted Alex to be assessed by a doctor before the jab. I had a mild case of chicken pox a couple of weeks ago, and so the nurse wanted the doc to check that it was safe for Alex to take the jab since the infection period is not over.

While taking measurements of Alex’s weight (8.3kg), length (65.5cm) and head circumference (44cm), the nurse commented that he was a strong baby. Alex also charmed a young PRC nurse, smiling at her when she started making faces at him. He’s a charmer, that boy, charms the socks off family, friends and strangers with his smile.

We didn’t have to wait long for Alex to see the doctor, who turned out to be a young punk still wet behind his ears. He looked at Alex’s stats and said, “your baby is overweight. You must not overfeed him.” I objected, “it’s ok for a baby to be fat during the 1st two years for brain development.” He disagreed, “if baby is overweight, he’ll become a fat child.” I wasn’t going to accept that lying down, “no, that’s not necessary.” Seriously there’re a number of literatures out there that state that a baby requires fat in the feeds for brain development. The membrane of neurons is made up of fatty acid, and the sheath covering them, myelin, is 70% fat. In the second episode of the amazing BBC series that follow the development of 25 millennium babies,
Child Of Our Time, Prof Robert Winston, the presenter as well as world-renown fertility specialist, told viewers that it was ok for baby to be fat during the first 2 years. Even Dr OK (Alex’s pediatrician, Anita Menon) didn’t mention that Alex is too fat and told us to cut down his feeds. In fact she told us that the amount of feeds would taper off, which was what happened.

Young punk was insistent, “I’m giving you my advice, but you’re obviously not receptive.” I was about to tell the young punk off. But my husband interjected; in his words later, “I’ve to step in before both of you start WW 3. You were about to launch nuclear missiles at him.” He told the young punk that Alex has reduced his feeds recently and his weight has stagnated. Young punk then proceeded to assess Alex and pronounced him normal in development.

Anyway let me digress here to explain that I don’t always fight with doctors. I didn’t fight with Dr OK, in fact I like her. She’s very reassuring and has excellent bedside manner. I’ve also never fought with our family doctors at Siglap Family Clinic, who also have excellent bedside manners. (The clinic is so popular that we have to be there at opening time to avoid the long wait time.) Come to think of it, I only get into fights with those who are lacking in bedside manners.

Alex had his jab on his chunky thigh where there’s sufficient cushion for the needle. Before the jab, we tried feeding him so that he wouldn’t be so cranky. Still I guess the needle was painful. The nurses are pretty kind, they helped to console him and got me to hold him upright so that he was more comfortable. For the next couple of days after the jab, he was quite cranky which happened also after the last vaccination. It’s something we have to expect after each jab.

Now, back to Alex’s feeds. By Wednesday afternoon, he was already not finishing his feeds. And he was then back to his dieting way. My husband checked on WHO website and found the baby weight guideline that the recommended weight should be between 5-85th percentile. Alex’s in the 90th percentile, which means he’s slightly above. My husband also found out that there are apparently two schools of thought; a British study that linked baby fat to childhood obesity, but the Americans disagree. Still he suggested we lower Alex’a feeds to 100ml each, and only give him a big feed at night to last him through as long as possible. Even if Alex doesn’t finish all of them, he has excess reserves to tap on.



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