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when is it ok to wean a bit early, at say 5 mo?

(37 Posts)
titferbrains Tue 31-May-11 12:11:13

I have only one dd and waited till 24 weeks exactly before offering food.

I have friends who have all fretted about baby not getting enough, seeming hungry etc. and so they've weaned early. Why do doctors not make it clear that baby will be seem hungry because of GROWTH SPURT not because it needs food? I have told so many people that milk is the most nutrient dense and filling thing they can offer their baby and am still amazed that they go on to wean early.

Just want to go over the key points of when to begin weaning from what I remember from DD.

- Baby should be able to sit up unaided
- baby shd be 6 months old
- baby shd not push food out of mouth with tongue? I remember something about being ready and them being able to bring food to back of mouth without gagging? and the way the mouth develops to accommodate food?

Why do people continue to wean early saying that baby is not getting enough from milk when the amounts of "food" they eat contributes so comparatively little to their diet?

Moulesfrites Tue 31-May-11 12:15:40

But don't some babies sit up, lose Tongue thrust thing before 6m? I thought the advice was to watch for these signs which could happen at around 6m, but could be earlier or later.

I agree though, ds seems to be having a massive growth spurt at the minute, he is 18 weeks and it seem to have been going on since about 15 weeks. The amount of people who have told me to start him on baby rice.....

titferbrains Tue 31-May-11 12:20:18

Yes agree about the signs happening early but they don't often come much earlier than 20 weeks do they? Esp sitting up? But my friend weaned both hers before 20 wks...

COCKadoodledooo Tue 31-May-11 12:22:10

Babies do not necessarily have to be 6 months. The guideline is "somewhere around the middle of the first year". There is current research (which I've not read as my lo's are past this stage) that exclusively breastfed babies should begin to be weaned earlier due to possible/potential iron deficiencies.

To add to your list, baby should be actively interested in food! I never cease to be dismayed by people attempting to shovel in baby rice/mush to a child that seems to have no interest at all, simply because they 'should'. Babe should be involved in mealtimes, even if this means just sitting at the table holding a spoon.

Cattleprod Tue 31-May-11 12:26:34

I was told that all babies are ready for weaning at some point between 17 and 26 weeks, but as there is no reliable external way to tell for sure if their gut is ready (the above signs are indicators but not 100% reliable) then they recommend that everyone waits until 6 months.

I know there's been research since about weaning too late increasing the risk of allergies, so the advice has gone back to 4-6 months afaik. All very confusing.

titferbrains Tue 31-May-11 12:27:50

Cocka, re: the iron thing - are they advising particular foods to offer to replace iron stores? eg fortified cerieal?

I agree about baby taking an interest but most babies are shoving everything into their mouths by then anyway....

titferbrains Tue 31-May-11 12:28:03

cereal I mean

wannaBe Tue 31-May-11 12:28:07

weaning is only considered "early" if it's before sixteen weeks.

The guideline is for babies to be exclusively bf until six months, however it is not recommended to wean babies before sixteen weeks, rather somewhere between 16/24 weeks.

All babies are different, and nobody presses a button at 24 weeks that suddenly makes them ready. and really as long as your friends are putting rusks in a newborn's bottle it's none of anyone else's business when someone weans their baby. biscuit

NormanTebbit Tue 31-May-11 12:29:35

yes

titferbrains Tue 31-May-11 12:32:33

ok, am off to google latest guidelines. Honestly, I don't know why I am putting myself thru coping with babyhood for a 2nd time. Bloody minefield.

Am just posting about this because am interested. I also remember the struggles with sleep etc from 4-6mo and I believe that introducing food ie one more level of stress for mum is unnecessary as you won't really know if it's going to help them, it's unlikely to help them sleep better, and it could lead to tummy problems if their gut doesn't cope well with it, leaving you with an uncomfortable tired baby as opposed to jsut a tired one.

HarrietJones Tue 31-May-11 13:12:42

The latest research was done by a formula or baby food company & was shown to be bias.

Ooopsadaisy Tue 31-May-11 13:17:02

Back in the day, weaning was usually done at about 3 months.

I know there are guidelines now that talk about 6 months being the right age, but my DCs were weaned from 12 weeks.

I can only say that I think it depends on the baby and it's general health and development.

Ooopsadaisy Tue 31-May-11 13:19:54

Whoops - don't know what that apostrophe was for - sorry!

Chandon Tue 31-May-11 13:24:22

I started weaning DS2 at 4 months, as he was STILL starving after being breastfed (he sucked me dry in 5 minutes). He was a big and hungry boy (born at 42.5 weeks at 10 pounds!), very active too. He thrived.

My other DS wanted only milk, and was not interested in food until 6 months.

I think people should learn to trust their instincts and wean when the baby seems ready.

RitaMorgan Tue 31-May-11 13:31:29

The signs are - when the baby can sit well, when they have lost the tongue thrust reflex, and when they can co-ordinate picking up food and getting it to their mouths. This usually happens around 26 weeks but could be earlier, say 5 months. It is important never to wean before 17 weeks.

There was some confusion about a research review (don't think it was new research) looking at weaning before 6 months, but the DoH guidelines haven't changed.

BalloonSlayer Tue 31-May-11 13:34:54

If it helps, when I had my eldest (now 10) the weaning age was four months. I asked the HV whether that was four calendar months or 16 weeks. She said either. I did it on the day he turned 16 weeks as he was so hungry.

When I had DD (now 9) she would have gone longer but it was still 16 weeks so I weaned. It changed to 6 months not long after that.

When I had DS2 he was smaller so I wondered if he would be happy with BM until 6 months, but it started to look like that. I said to the HV that I didn't think he'd make it to 6 months without solids and she said "most of them don't, dear."

I have never had any guilt about any of this.

MrsJamin Tue 31-May-11 13:37:32

BTW if you want to be pedantic 6 months is 26 weeks, not 24.

ToTheWeddingIShallNotGo Tue 31-May-11 13:45:32

To clarify (though lots of these points have already been made)...

A baby needs only milk for the first 6 months. Somewhere around 6 months a baby's gut matures and they can cope with more than milk. Not knowing when this is, the guidelines are set at 26 weeks. But never before 17 weeks.

If a child is sitting up reliably, has lost the tongue thrust reflex and can pick up and put food in its mouth, chew and swallow, it is probably displaying the external signs of gut maturation.

The guidelines have been 6 months since 2003. For 20 years before this they were 4-6 months.

Weight is nothing to do with readiness to wean. Big babies don't need weaning any earlier than small babies. Birth weight or weight at any arbitrary age, it's all irrelevant.

Night waking and increased feeds do not indicate a mature gut. They indicate a baby developing.

A breast is not 'sucked dry'. It is a river, not a pond. Your breasts make milk as the baby feeds. If a baby is hungry after a milk feed, putting them back on does give them access to more milk.

6 months is 26 weeks.

4 months is 17 weeks.

Iron stores in bf babies begin to deplete at 6 months but milk doesn't suddenly become iron free and the research is a good indicator to introduced a varied diet, not any indication that exclusive feeding for 6 months should no longer be recommended.

The guidelines have not changed recently, nor are they planning on changing them any time soon.

Instinct does not give you a window into a child's gut. You can no they're hungry, no more, no less.

I do so wish women could be given good, valid information and the myths just left well alone. It's so easy to lose confidence in what you're doing when people are convinced of facts that just don't exist. Making a choice about your own baby is fine, as long as it's informed.

ToTheWeddingIShallNotGo Tue 31-May-11 13:46:55

You can know they're hungry. [prat]

meditrina Tue 31-May-11 13:53:57

"never before 17 weeks" WTF! - the NHS guideline when I had DSes was to begin at 16 weeks! I've still got the official NHS publication which says exactly that (not 4-6 months, 16 weeks).

It may be better to wait - but it doesn't cause harm to wean earlier if that is what a parent wants to do.

ToTheWeddingIShallNotGo Tue 31-May-11 14:04:52

The guidelines as they stand today are not to introduce any solids before 4 months. 4 months is 17 weeks, I also have a leaflet. grin

DoH weaning guidelines are here and the NHS ones here though obviously they're largely the same.

And sadly yes it can cause harm if you wean earlier. Not in the vast majority of cases. And sometimes it won't be clear how early weaning impacts a child. But sometimes, such as in the case of my niece, weaning at 13 weeks has had a damaging and lasting effect on her health.

RitaMorgan Tue 31-May-11 14:20:49

Weaning before 4 months can and does cause harm - it puts the baby at greater risk of infections and intolerances.

meditrina Tue 31-May-11 14:23:48

So those of us who had babies in the 1990s and who followed the approved, evidence-based 16 week guideline were damaging our babies?

Thanks. Nice to know that by following what the NHS says can be so dangerous. No advice can be future-proofed. There is no evidence that there is a damaged generation from following that advice (and given the Millennium cohort babies fall into the period when NHS publications were saying 16 weeks, it's a pretty well studied.

I am not disputing the current guidelines, or advising anyone to depart from them. But I am pointing out that what we now call "early" weaning was actually normal weaning (even late weaning in some!) and really there is no need to be so prescriptive - or to assume that the current guidelines are durably correct.

COCKadoodledooo Tue 31-May-11 14:23:54

titfer sorry, like I say I've not read it myself being past that stage, but introducing a varied diet makes sense.

Fwiw when ds1 was small the guidelines were changing - one HV told us 16 weeks, and another 6 months. Both at the same practice hmm He was around 20 weeks when he stopped mid-bf, grabbed the banana I was eating and proceeded to chomp on that instead!

Ds2 also started at 20 weeks even though the guidelines were definitely 6 months by then. Second time around we went for more of a BLW approach - ds1 had had finger foods 'early' but mostly purees etc in the beginning, ds2 refused to eat 'baby food' as he wanted to have exactly what his big bro was getting!

RitaMorgan Tue 31-May-11 14:28:17

meditrina - I doubt the difference between 16 and 17 weeks is that crucial.

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