To consider starting my baby on solids early

(126 Posts)
scottishegg Wed 06-Nov-13 16:01:01

Hi all I'm a mum of 3 with my youngest child being 4 and a half months old.
My son is on the 99th percentile for weight and height and is fairly advanced in his physical development.
He is currently going through a tub of formula every 3 days and is becoming very unsettled day and night whereas before he was a very settled baby and was sleeping through.

He is showing a great interest in food and isn't as happy with milk as before.

However I know that the current guidelines are not to wean them until they are 6 months old but the older generations of my family are very insistent that due to his size and his current behaviour that it may be worth introducing food within the next couple of weeks.

I waited till 6 months with both of my other 2 children before introducing food but my youngest is a very different baby and is getting less satisfied with milk, I am reluctant to put him on hungrier baby milk as it can lead to constipation in some babies and up until recently the normal milk was fine for him.
So do I just suck it up for the next 6 weeks or so or is it possible to introduce solids fairly soon also will doing this ( introducing solids) harm the little chap.

All advice appreciated thanks

EugenesAxe Wed 06-Nov-13 16:36:18

I weaned both children at 5 months with no (apparently) bad effects. I am fairly sure I've heard the 6 month thing is to do with WHO that are concerned about children in deprived areas of the world (Africa etc.) being given stuff that could hurt them (I guess unclean water and stuff), and so want to promote breastfeeding for as long as possible.

I think I've also heard that in terms of body development it can harm the system if weaning occurs before or around 3 months.

I think Penguins talks sense. If you look at stage one foods they are all labelled 4-6 months anyway. No doubt someone will be along to say I'm being naïve and brainwashed, but to me it seems unlikely the powers that be would allow that if there was real concern for the health of the nation as a result. As long as you give really basic stuff, pureed carrot, apple, pear - all that innocuous stuff (and actually I think bananas you are advised to wait a bit because of constipation) - I think you will be fine.

BLW... might be fashionable but I still think it's pants. I hate waste.

EugenesAxe Wed 06-Nov-13 16:37:45

How many times did I say 'stuff' in my post?!

Me2Me2 Wed 06-Nov-13 16:39:36

If he's guzzling that much milk and you think he's ready, then go for it - mashed banana and veg.

While we're on the subject, does your baby need to be sitting unsupported to introduce solids? (DD is 6 months next week, crawling but sitting yet). Just wondering

exexpat Wed 06-Nov-13 16:43:44

At 4 months DS (also a large baby, but BF) was sitting independently, and if he was sitting on my lap, would grab food off my plate, put it in his mouth and start chewing. Does that count as baby-led weaning?

This was 15 years ago, and in another country, where weaning advice was to start at 3 months (UK advice at the time was 4 months - I was acting against local doctors' advice by not giving him fruit juice at 3 months and rice gruel at 100 days). So he started on solids early, and was obviously ready - no tongue thrust, no digestive problems, and a big appetite.

I'd probably proceed but with caution - any history of allergies etc in your family?

KerwhizzedMyself Wed 06-Nov-13 16:44:58

I read once that the reason they still sell 4-6 month labelled food is because the six month thing is guidelines or advice and not an official certain 100% fact so they can't really ban four month food based on that.

But that could be random bollocks I don't know smile

WestieMamma Wed 06-Nov-13 16:45:50

The 6 months advice is a WHO guideline based on harm done at a global level. It primarily relates to developing countries. The research showed no harm in weaning at 4 months in developed countries (with access to clean water, good sanitation etc). The majority of developed nations therefore did not change their recommendation to 6 months.

Since then further research has shown that waiting until 6 months can be harmful as it increases the risk of allergies. Some countries which did change to 6 months have now reverted back to 4 months.

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Wed 06-Nov-13 16:46:04

me2 - No, but he should be able to support his own head and sit with support - e.g. in a high chair- assuming no disabilities. At six months it isn't so much of a worry, but if someone is talking about weaning at 20 weeks or whatever, their baby's physical development is part of the picture.

Eugene - The labelling stuff is actually a bit of a minefield. Basically, IIRC, when the weaning guidelines were changed the manufacturers weren't actually prohibited from labelling 4 months, so they still do to drum up business hmm. However, your central point is right - most of the research showing significant ill effects is with weaning pre-4 months. After that, it is a safety margin. Some babies will be ready and others won't until closer to 6 months. The problem is that it's hard to tell from the outside whether the gut is closed, etc, but physical development and internal development are believed to mirror. So a baby showing many of the signs I listed is probably ready inside too IYSWIM.

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Wed 06-Nov-13 16:47:34

Westie - Could you link to the allergy study or reports? As far as I knew the eat study was still a study with no released findings and I'm really interested if I missed something? Which countries have changed back to 4 months?

wannaBe Wed 06-Nov-13 16:47:56

I would.

amazing how readiness for solids suddenly translated into a growth spert almost overnight just because a bit of research suggested waiting is a better guideline. hmm my ds was weaned at four months as per the then guidelines. He was ready, showed all the signs, I introduced solids and he thrived. Or perhaps the fact he was screaming for food but refusing milk and then suddenly stopped doing so and also appeared to take more of his milk after introduction of solids, the fact that he sat ready for the spoon, opened his mouth, showed interest in our food was all my imagination... hmm

guidelines are just that, guidelines, and actually the guideline suggests that it is preferable to exlusively breastfeed until six months but not to wean before four months.nnAnd there are currently studies being carried out which suggest that waiting longer actually increases the incidences of allergies, similar studies have suggested that waiting to introduce nuts has the same impact hence why nut advice has now changed.

OvaryAction Wed 06-Nov-13 16:50:08

I wouldn't, 4months is a normal time for hungriness, growth spurts and sleep regression their brains are developing a lot at that age. I think they are developing a greater capacity for memory and that sort of thing. It's the same as toddlers and teenagers, they're hard work because it's tiring going through such massive change/growth.

He doesn't need solids IMO but he's your baby and it's your choice.

The signs that a baby is ready to wean is that they can sit up confidently, have lost the tongue thrust reflux and can pick up food, put it in their mouth, chew it and swallow. Since there are fewer calories in any first foods than milk, weaning isn't to do with hunger. They still get the vast majority of their calories from milk. Likewise, size means nothing either other than they've thrived on milk alone. The gut being ready for solids is merely a matter of biology and the theory is that the signs above mirror this maturation.

The guidelines have been 6 months for 10 years and before this they weren't '4 months', they were 4-6 months and had been for many years.

Guidelines are nothing to do with third world countries, Big Macs or lack of sanitation. They're to do with biology of all children across the globe.

The NHS guidelines are very good and not prescriptive at all. They explain the signs and when they are likely to happen, plus what to do if you have questions.

I started weaning when mine displayed the signs of readiness and started helping themselves. One was 27 weeks, one was nearly 25 weeks.

Guidelines are just that and while they say 6 months is optimum, they also state never before 17 weeks but with hcp advice. This is why they can advertise jars from 4 months. There's no legislation against it and advice about 17 weeks onwards means that people still wean early. They are not going to miss an extra two months of profit! It's not a recommendation, it's merely marketing and profit.

All a bit garbled sorry, on my way out...

Laurel1979 Wed 06-Nov-13 16:56:40

YANBU. It wouldn't have been considered early until several years ago! It's fine as long as you stick with things like baby rice, baby porridge and fruit or veg purée, leave meats until after 6 months. I'm a GP and weaned my son at 4 months.

HearMyRoar Wed 06-Nov-13 16:56:50

Lots of people on here quoting a study linking late weaning to allergies. Can any of you give a link for that?

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Wed 06-Nov-13 16:57:35

For those who are interested in allergies, I've just had a check and the EAT study results aren't expected until 2015, so no policy changes, results or recommendations will have been issues as a result of that particular study. And the reason for that study was the lack of previous in depth study of that hypothesis.

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Wed 06-Nov-13 16:59:05

HearmyRoar - the EAT study is here and they link to Allergy UK, which also have useful background. At this stage late weaning and allergies is a hypothesis.

Topseyt Wed 06-Nov-13 17:06:19

When my eldest was born back in 1995 the advice was to begin weaning at 3 months. By the time my younger two were born (1998 and 2002) this had changed to 4 months. No baby that I was aware of was ever damaged by this.

If you feel he is ready for weaning then give it a try with simply purees, rusk, baby rice etc. and see how things go.

Mine were all weaned at just over three months, and no harm done.

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Wed 06-Nov-13 17:09:11

Topsey - No, the vast majority of babies will be absolutely fine. it's a rare risk. I was weaned at 3 months and I'm fine. But statistically, babies were harmed by routine weaning at 3 months, which is why the guidelines were changed. As I mentioned, most of the evidence is about pre-4 months, so once it was 4 months the difference will be even smaller.

stephrick Wed 06-Nov-13 17:12:10

all mine went on solids at 4 months, this was years ago mind, the health visitor said if they were constantly hungry, which they were start with baby rice.

WestieMamma Wed 06-Nov-13 17:16:09

I can't find the actual study because I'm full of cold and have the concentration of a doughnut, but here's the EU scientific report on when to introduce solids which covered it:

www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/1423.pdf

CreamyCooler Wed 06-Nov-13 17:17:14

I weaned all mine at 3 months, youngest is 13 and eldest is 25.

GobbySadcase Wed 06-Nov-13 17:20:40

I think gut permeability issues resolve at about 17 weeks. Mine all weaned after that. DS1 was 18 weeks, DS2 20 weeks and DD 24 weeks.

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Wed 06-Nov-13 17:23:37

Thanks Westie. Only read the summary but I think I misunderstood you - that's about the wide issue of 4-6 months rather than specifically allergies, yes? On allergies they say we don't know enough yet to be sure when is best, which is consistent with what I'd found.

Joysmum Wed 06-Nov-13 17:31:41

How times change. When I had my daughter it was 4-6 months. Children my daughters age, including my daughter are fine. Given you're asking the question you clearly aren't ill educated or acting rashly do if you as the mother thinks it's worth trying then go ahead and see. If it's not right then you stop. Simples

scottishegg Wed 06-Nov-13 17:41:46

Wow some great advice, still debating what to do but at least now I will be more confident to introduce solids in the near future if I feel my son is ready, you have all really helped thanks.

rockybalboa Wed 06-Nov-13 17:44:22

4 month growth spurt? I have just come out of a hellish week of 4 month old DS3 feeding every 1.5 - 2 hrs round the clock. Made no difference if he was bf or ff. I'd probably hold of weaning until at least 5 months.

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