Posted by Matt on 15-01-2011
Sitting here writing this blog, with Luca down stairs playing with his little kitchen, and Tyler having her lunch of Milk and Butternut Squash, I can’t help thinking what all the fuss is all about. Over the past 24 hours a storm of biblical proportions has developed, and you could be forgiven for thinking this storm relates to the floods in Australia, or even the political unrest in Tunisia. No, this storm (yet again) is all about when to wean a baby, more specifically, should you wean before six months??
First seeing the debate unfold on the BBC’s Breakfast News, I was sure it was just a short story on a slow news day – how wrong could I be. As I travelled into London, I was bombarded with texts, and people sending me pictures of The Times newspaper with the front page headline – “Babies need solid food – not just breast milk”. Well throughout the day, it continued and when going home on the train, I picked up my much needed Evening Standard and within the first few pages I see an article by Kiran Randhawa (ES’s Health Correspondent), providing some additional insights by the NCT’s Rosie Dodds, Alan Lucas (one of the team who wrote the paper in the British Medical journal) and Nifa McLaughlin editor of www.gurgle.com . In essence I agree with Nifa, who simply points out that there is “no consistency in the research on the subject. Every week there is something new suggesting that breastfeeding is either beneficial or harmful”.
When I started The Baby Chef, in part it was to help parents cook for their little babies and enjoy this sometimes stressful journey. Additionally, it was to try and normalise the process, by taking away much of the mixed messages and confusion around the subject of when to wean and introduce solids. I sought out the most relevant information, and worked with professionals like Lucy Jones now part of the Baby Chef team and a Specialist Dietitain. What I think we came back to time and time again was “normalise” the process.
For me, weaning is exciting, joy-filled and stressful in equal measure. What food should you try and when, how do you prepare them and, importantly what should you avoid? These are some of the questions that parents are confronted with at arguably one of the most important times in a child’s life.
It’s all very straight forward for me, first, it’s 100% natural, and for that matter part of human nature. Everyone on the planet needs to learn this life skill, and as parents we must help and nurture these first steps with our children. Second, parents have instincts, and one instinct might be to start weaning your baby at around 5 months, as we did with both Luca and Tyler, and like many millions of parents before us.
There may also be a combination of factors why parents might be looking to start this process before 6 months. What I mean by this is, your baby is able to hold themselves up in the highchair without bobbing around, he or she is not sleeping through the night after eating all the night time feed, and they seem to be getting hungry between feeds. In addition to these cues and signs, you might also be contemplating the more practical side of things. For example, for many parents, the thought of going back to work while you’ve a child that’s not sleeping through the night is not acceptable. By starting to introduce solids into the diet with the milk feeds, should help your baby to sleep peacefully through the night, and this has got to be a positive for all concerned. I can tell you from experience that as soon as we started to wean Luca and Tyler, they both started to consistently sleep from 7pm through until 7am.
So all I can really say is that you’re a parent, and you need to make sound decisions while keeping it simple. In essence, normalise, and think about these basic principles
1. Don’t ever start before 17 weeks as your babies’ stomach is not ready for solid food
2. Have at least 3 or 4 of the above signs playing out during the day
3. Don’t be pressured into doing it because your mate in the coffee club is doing it
4. Don’t leave it past 6 months, as Iron in the diet is very important
5. Relax, and take your time during the first few days (Remember this is a first)
6. Be led by your paternal instincts
As for the media storm, I’ll let it pass over “again”, as next year we’ll be told something else by some organisation, or government looking to do the best by us, but ultimately confusing the most natural thing in the world – eating...
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