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Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months now not enough?

(16 Posts)
Marabou Sat 24-Sep-11 14:07:34

I'm sorry to bring this up, as I am sure the topic was discussed intensely, when this Guardian article was published earlier this year

However, I was still happily pregnant at the time and hadn't found this board yetsmile...

So what do people generally think about this?

My little boy will be 20 weeks on the coming Monday and he is exclusively breastfed. I am returning to work in less than a month part-time and I will mostly be working from home. While my official start date will be mid-October I had hoped to use my annual leave days I had accrued during my maternity leave and this would mean I wouldn't actually have to start until November ending. I had planned to start introducing solids when DS is about 5.5 months old in order to have a good start before I return to work and his aunty will look after him in our home. The nice thing will be that I will be able to continue breastfeeding him when I am working at home and the one day I will work from the office I plan to express and I have already started pumping milk into the freezer.

So what I now wonder is, whether I should already start even earlier..? I know of course the first tastes do not really have any nutritional value, but should I already start him on iron-fortified baby rice or something similar soonish?

I think he still has quite a strong tongue thrust reflex and also cannot sit unsupported. I also haven't yet got him a high chair, although was planning on getting one next week and get the kind that reclines quite far back.

Grateful for any ideas..

naturalbaby Sat 24-Sep-11 14:13:29

i started 2 of my kids at 5 1/2months and it was a great age for us. i gave dc3 a spoon to play with for a bit and tested his tongue thrust reflex but was in no rush to start earlier because i started ds1 just before 5months and it was a real faff. he took ages to get the hang of it, wasn't ready, wasn't impressed.
the hv said once i'd started i should carry on but with the others i was much more laid back so stop started, did a bit of spoon feeding, bit of finger foods instead of purees with one and they are much better eaters.

my sample size of 3 says chill out and try a bit when baby really seems ready. in fact, i thought ds3 was ready then gave it an extra week to make sure. the later you leave it (obviously not way after 6months) the quicker and easier it is to get weaning established.

MoaningMinnieWhingesAgain Sat 24-Sep-11 14:23:03

I have C+P'd the vital part of the article -

The paper acknowledges that three of the four authors "have performed consultancy work and/or received research funding from companies manufacturing infant formulas and baby foods within the past three years".

Vested interest in promoting weaning/baby foods. The guidelines haven't changed, around 6 months is the recommended age to introduce foods. I BF the youngest until 2 years, started solids around 5.5m because he was clearly ready - grabbing food and putting it in his mouth and eating it.

You want to look for signs of readiness and being around the right age. Being ready doesn't mean staring at you eating and chewing fists, they all do that. IMHO 5.5m and appearing ready is absolutely fine, completely different to spooning in baby rice at 17weeks because you feel you should.

Kellymom link too of course!

MoaningMinnieWhingesAgain Sat 24-Sep-11 14:27:19

He may not take much food for a good while and milk will still be the bulk of his calories/intake for some time yet, he may not noticeably drop any milk feeds until he is a lot older. Or he may take to food like my DS and be a glutton from day one - loved food right from first bite and still does.

Having done purees and BLW, I would heartily recommend having a reading of the Gill Rapley baby led weaning book, library will have it. It is great, very compatible with breastfeeding, works best with patterned carpets and a dog around grin

EauRouge Sat 24-Sep-11 19:03:24

That's great that you'll be able to continue BF when you go back to work smile

This study didn't include any new research AFAIK and the findings have been ignored by the NHS and the WHO who still advise exclusively BF for 6 months. I'd also recommend a look at BLW, much less work than purees grin

I think reclining high chairs are not recommended, they are supposed to sit up-right when they are eating.

mawbroon Sat 24-Sep-11 20:16:33

Get an Ikea Antilope highchair.

It's about £15 and there are a zillion MNetters will tell you that it fab. No nooks and crannies to get food stuck in. And heck, I sometimes even run the chair through the dishwasher!

And as for the research, it was discussed at the time and the consensus was that it was a load of tosh. It wasn't new research, just a look at some previous research, and as MMWA says, it was all rather closely linked with the baby food industy hmm

BLW is the way to go IME. Takes the responsibility away from you. If baby is ready, he will eat. If not, he won't.


DecapitatedLegoman Sat 24-Sep-11 20:35:40

What mawbroon said.

lilham Sat 24-Sep-11 20:46:19

I started at 24wo and it took DD about a week to get enthusiastic. I'm doing purees with finger foods. I am pretty strict about no dairy or gluten before 26wo but a lot of people probably doesnt wait for the strict 26wo date.

Anyway I was very glad when 26wo came. Maybe it's just me, but feeding fruit and veg purees just seems filling a babies tummy with diet food to me. For breakfast I'm using the fruit purees with ready brek or weetabix. For lunch I'm mixing the veg purees with grated cheese or scrambled eggs. I can use full fat milk and can give toasts to DD. I feel much more free with food choices. Im planning to whizz the mac n cheese we are making for her this week too.

Basically I'm saying even if you do the traditional purees, waiting till 6 mo is so much easier. It's soul sucking feeding a baby the same apple/pear and root veg 3 meals a day.

AngelDog Sat 24-Sep-11 22:20:36

What mawbroom said. BLW takes all the stress out of wondering when they're ready - you know when they're ready because that's when they start scoffing stuff.

I believe organisations like La Leche League and Unicef (ie WHO) published statements saying that they still believed the current evidence supported exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months.

Marabou Sun 25-Sep-11 14:24:55

Hello everyone and thank you very much for all the helpful advice and tips! Had to look up BLWsmile and agree that this will be the best way to go.. I'm a bit confused about these mystic signs to follow they talk about.. I mean sure he's interested in what I eat but he's interested in pretty much everything I do anyway.. Should I just give it a go with a bit of mashed up banana mixed with some EBM or?

I'm also facing another rather tricky issue with feeding him with a bottle. DH used to feed him a bottle of EBM every night after bath, but now he has changed his work shift and usually doesn't get home early enough so DS has started to reject the bottle. Last time I visited the baby clinic with him there was a dental hygienist there giving advice about teething and she mentioned that I should try and feed him milk from a beaker. Do you guys think I should give it a go rather than try to introduce the bottle again at this stage? I mean surely he'll have to start drinking from a beaker soon anyway right..?

Oh and thanks for the tip about the IKEA high chair! Will save me a ton of moneysmile!

Marabou Sun 25-Sep-11 14:31:01

Oh perhaps I should clarify that DS isn't actually rejecting the bottle, it's more like he's refusing to let DH feed him. I tried feeding him EBM from a bottle a few times and he takes it from me just fine..

So I was wondering whether it's too much feeding him EBM from a beaker the whole day when I'm at work, because obviously he will still mostly eat BM even if he has started solids by then.. I'm thinking he will eat BM twice or three times while I am away, as my work place is a five minute walk away, so I plan to feed him in the morning before I go and again when I come home around 4.30pm.

organiccarrotcake Sun 25-Sep-11 14:34:29 answers your questions extremely comprehensively, OP.

I personally wouldn't consider baby rice as it's horrible, messy and pointless. If you want to offer iron-rich foods, offer iron-rich foods! Meat, for instance. Babies often love sucking on a piece of steak! Finger foods need to be big enough for them to hold a piece in their fist and have enough sticking out to chew, gum and suck on.

Also bear in mind it's not a "strict" 26 weeks. It's "around 6 months" which is different. For some, they're ready at 5 months - others not until 7 or 8 months and those kinds of variations are all fine.

mawbroon Sun 25-Sep-11 15:09:37

There's no need to mush the banana. Give him a bit to feed himself and see what he does, or just give him some bits off your plate. If you apply common sense and don't give him anything too salty/sugary/spicey.

Marabou Sun 25-Sep-11 15:34:55

Aah right thanks for the links organiccarrotcake, I had actually looked up BLW here on the MN abrreviations and I suppose I didn't quite grasp the whole idea.. Wau, so I'll basically just need to stick finger-sized bits of food in his hands and hope he'll manage to get most of it in his mouth and down to his tummy.. Boy will I be glad to move to a place without carpets soongrin!

Hm, yes I had picked up the relationship between the researchers and the food industry from the article and was therefore already quite sceptical.. Hm I think closer to when DS is about 5.5 months I'll simply lay some carrot sticks or the like on the highchair tray and see what he makes of it.. I think DH will like the whole idea of BLW, because that's how they do it in his country anyway and he was already scoffing at the thought of baby rice.

lilham Sun 25-Sep-11 16:12:01

Have a look at the blw website linked. There are some first foods easier to handle than others. For example carrots should be cooked so it's soft. Bread is harder than toast.

organiccarrotcake Sun 25-Sep-11 20:24:00

Yes, I was going to say that about carrot, too. Also apple - beware things which can break into a hard, small piece (for choking hazard reasons).

BLW babies learn to chew before they learn to swallow so expect gagging and even retching as they accidentally move it further back than they are used to. It's scary but normal. They are also likely to eat less than puree fed babies will because they're learning about and exploring food in a healthy way, not being spoon-fed stuff to fill their tummies (this aspect may not suit you if you want to wean earlier because of work). You can do both, though, spoon feeding and BLW, if that works for you.

Just cut bits of your normal food into lengths (eg carrots in lengths, not circles) and cut off a strip of meat like that, or toast, or whatever. You can let them eat things like peas or beans with their fingers, or feed messy beans on a spoon.

This book gives an amazingly clear explanation of what complimentary foods are important, and why (a must-have book IMO).,_Culture_and_Politics_978-1-905177-42-4

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