So today there have been reports about possible changes to the current guidelines on when to wean babies, especially if they’re breastfed. Forums have been all a flutter about it, broadcasters have been including the story in their hourly news bulletins, and every ones been generally getting a little hot under the collar. And really, what for?
Yet again a team of researchers have discovered another fine point about breastfeeding/weaning which slightly contradicts the current guidelines issued by WHO (World Helath Organisation). Most of us know that current guidelines state that we should breast feed our babies exclusively for 6 months before introducing solids, unless your baby is showing signs of needing more than just milk, in which case between 4 and 6 months is OK. The recent report suggests that breast fed babies could become deficient in iron if they only have breast milk up to 6 months. It’s strange that after 10 years of the current advice some research suddenly reveals that breast fed babies could be iron deficient. So in 10 years has there been an increase in anaemic 4-6 month old babies? I haven’t found any reports suggesting this. Hmmmm. The research also suggests that breast fed babies will more likely develop allergies if solid food isn’t introduced before 6 months – but this is in direct contrast to one of the reasons for waiting until 6 months, to reduce the risk of developing allergies. Now I’ve never really been so sure about the whole solids before 6 months increasing risks of allergies bit. Our parents were weaning us at 3 months and there are without a doubt more cases of food allergies in our childrens generation than in ours. So maybe this new report has a point about the whole allergy thing…But who knows? It’s all a little confusing, especially for first time weaners.
But really, what everyone is missing here, with the current advice/guidance and the new research, is that all of it is advice and GUIDANCE. At the end of the day all babies are different, living circumstances are different, you can’t just fit everyone into the same bracket. And what’s the point in confusing everyone and increasing stress levels of tired parents. Yes let us know what findings there are of this research or that, yes give us guidelines to help us make decisions, but let US, the PARENTS, decide what we think is best for our children, without feeling that we might be doing something wrong.
I won’t be changing our pages on weaning as I don’t think we need to. Mums and dads should listen to their baby and follow their instincts and try not to get their knickers in a twist about every little report that comes out. If you want to give your baby little tastes of solid food before 6 months then go ahead, if you prefer to wait, then fine. Neither of these will harm your baby, as long as you feed them age appropriate food and nothing they can choke on! See our weaning chart for a guide on what to feed and when.
Tags: when to wean babies