Sunday, 16 January 2011

Wean your bairn whenever you like...

It comes to no great surprise that the 'consensus' on baby weaning has changed it's mind again. When A was small the consensus was that at four months old was the appropriate age to start weaning babies onto solid foods. This time around, I was told that under no circumstances should B be given solids before 36 weeks old or six calendar months. I am one of those mothers who listens to medical professionals and heeds the advice given. There must be a reason for it, after all? 

However, a new scientific report recommends that babies should be weaned from four months, rather than waiting until six months. This contradicts current Government advice stating babies should not be weaned until six months.The researchers, led by Dr Mary Fewtrell, a paediatrician from the University of London Institute of Child Health, have concluded that waiting until six months can increase the risk of allergies and iron deficiency. With awareness and detection of allergies on the increase, it was the advice from the WHO that since a babies gut is immature before six months, we all thought we were doing it the right way. The researchers agree that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for feeding your baby, and recommend exclusive breastfeeding until at least four months. Dr Fewtrell suggests that after four months mums should start to wean once, and only once, their babies start showing the signs that they’re ready for solid food. As all babies are different, the report suggests that mums shouldn't feel they have to wait until the day their baby turns six months.

I wont bore you with the fine print and the contradictory views and besides the links are above. I think it should be up to the parent to follow the set of advice that they feel best works for them. I've known people who have stressed for weeks before illicitly putting their infant on what would be considered an early weaning programme. I had different experiences with both kids. I tried to follow the advice at the time with A regarding weaning but at 16 weeks, he simply wasn't ready. He struggled with the toilet and wasn't really interested. He was  very healthy boy (and only I can say this because I'm his mother but he was built like a brick outhouse!) and was easier to wean at six months and was subsequently a good eater. I breastfed him until he was nearly two and everything went well during this time. He does have a cows milk allergy but there is a strong history of it in our family so I expected it and it made me more determined to exclusively breastfeed. B was a different kettle of fish. She had problems feeding for the first 6 weeks. The Health Visitors were no help at all and she ended up in hospital as we desperately tried to figure out why she hadn't put on any weight for weeks. As it turned out, her tongue was tied and although the Doctors didn't set great store in snipping it to help her feed better, when it was eventually snipped at 8 weeks, she quickly gained weight and thrived. When it came to solids, we prepared early as she was very interested in what we were eating around 5 and a half months. So we started then and she's a fantastic eater. The point of all of that information was that I listened to all of the advice and then made my own judgement regarding what was best for my kids. 

I feel however that the people who worry about this information flood and the mixed messages it brings are those who do not necessarily need to listen to it. I am incredibly neurotic and I worry about everything and if I am doing things the right way. So were I not so disillusioned by the medical establishment, I would be stressing about this. The reason this advice is issued, in my opinion is that it is aimed at all of the mothers who don't know what they're doing for one reason or another. It could be that they are uneducated, too young, addicts, living in a third world country where hygiene is poor and where food and water sources are contaminated. People, who in short, the medical establishment, the Government and associated health professionals cannot trust to bring their kids up in a responsible manner. Who they can't trust to use their better judgement or to listen to advice rationally. If people made up their own mind about the subject, well then, we would presumably have anarchy. It is an action equivalent to the withdrawal of cough medicines from the shelves of all UK pharmacies and supermarkets. When Miss B was very poorly with a terrible cold we tried everywhere to get her a chesty cough medicine. One pharmacist informed us that due to the fact that the active ingredient in this medicine could make children drowsy, parents in their droves were abusing it. Parents were actually buying it and dosing their children when in need of a good nights sleep! I know that when I have a chesty cough and can't lie down, sleep an my throat is killing me, I need an expectorant or I'm miserable, tired and in pain. Babies and toddlers on the other hand, just have to suck it up!


  1. I totally agree. They will keep chaning their minds but at the end of the day our babies aren't robots so whats good for one may not be good for another. Makes me mad that new parents are given such conflicting advice all the time- this job is hard enough as it is!

  2. are you getting better now? Pei Pa Koa ( ) is one of the few Chinese natural cough remedies that have been scientifically studied. it's something like herb plus honey, and it's sweet, thick and black in color. If you have a cough, look for it! It used to be one of my favourite natural cough remedies.

    if your cough persists, seek professional help such as traditional Chinese medicine physicians - I have had very good experiences with them.

  3. Hi Gillion. Thanks for the link. Will check it out. xx


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