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Why is early weaning seen as bad?

(14 Posts)
MamaPingu Tue 18-Feb-14 18:10:56

All I know is weaning at 6 months is ideal and 4 months + is ok if necessary.

I know before 4 months babies should have no solids.
I just have never had a clear answer why? I've heard people say it's because of allergies but I've read it has no effect, then I've heard it's due to obesity? And damaging the digestive system?

I also know someone who was on 3 meals a day at 5 weeks believe it or not!! shock
And she's a perfectly healthy adult. Does this mean that the risks are kind of pot luck? That early weaning could cause problems for some but not necessary all?

Ps. This is not about wanting to wean MY child early. Just curious as I've seen conflicting information and I'm confused as to why being weaned at 5 weeks did no harm! Health visitor made out extremely early weaning would be the end of the world haha smile

Thankyou! smile

Weegiemum Tue 18-Feb-14 18:13:23

It's due to gut maturity. Babies can't digest food properly too young and need milk instead. Early weaning can lead to malnutrition and allergies. I think!

TheScience Tue 18-Feb-14 18:25:48

Early weaning can cause gut damage - leading to developing IBS and coeliacs disease in later life.
It also increases the risk of infections.
Babies given inappropriate foods very early can risk overdosing on salt.
If food or drinks replace milk babies can be malnourished.

TheScience Tue 18-Feb-14 18:26:39

Basically it is also of no benefit to the baby - so it's taking a risk with their current/future health but isn't going to do them any good at all.

ExBrightonBell Tue 18-Feb-14 19:05:45

An analogy I read on here recently about the "well it did x no harm" is to imagine walking out and crossing a busy round without looking. If you get to the other side without being run over, does it mean that it is safe and that it can be recommended as a strategy to others?

The risk is not so high with early weaning (although as already said, a salt overdose can be lethal) but the principal is the same. Your friend who was fully weaned at 5 weeks is lucky if she has no lasting damage.

Contemplates Tue 18-Feb-14 19:22:04

The gut it the last body organ to mature and this isn't completely until 6 months after birth.

If you work any organ before it reaches maturity, it will work very hard to do the job but will struggle and won't do so well. There are links to all kinds of disease including the obvious bowel disease as an adult, in relation to early weaning. suebailey.hubpages.com/hub/Weaning-Baby-Too-Early-Could-Cause-Obesity-Diabetes-and-Many-Other-Autoimmune-Diseases

Food doesn't have the same nutritional value as baby milk, so why change it if it ain't broken?

The only exception to this is for a premature baby whose body clock is pretty confused due to being let out too early! If you don't wean a prem baby early enough they can have swallow difficulties, for example.

MamaPingu Tue 18-Feb-14 20:29:15

Thank you for your replies I've only had chance to check back!

I was gobsmacked when I knew she was weaned at 5 weeks, I've never heard of a baby weaned that young. 12 weeks is the earliest I've heard of! I was weaned at that age, and most people I know it seems!

I wonder if the lady weaned at 5 weeks will face trouble later in life because of it, is that a possibility?

Chunderella Tue 18-Feb-14 20:36:04

Yes. But she might not. It's a heightened risk, not a certainty. Even if there was something like a 90% risk of severe problems if weaned too early, there'd still be loads of people out there who were fine.

MamaPingu Tue 18-Feb-14 20:45:55

Ok thanks Chunderella smile

ArgyMargy Tue 18-Feb-14 20:52:40

My mum started weaning me at. 6 weeks - if you go far enough back you will find plenty of people my age who were weaned early. I've never had any digestive problems but I do agree that doesn't make it right! I weaned my children at about 14 weeks.

MamaPingu Tue 18-Feb-14 20:59:00

It sounds as though it's unlikely to cause problems, but it's best to avoid the risk by waiting as long as possible!
And I suppose weaning them with the right things at the right times eg. starting with fruit and veg and not anything too harsh!

Chunderella Tue 18-Feb-14 21:19:31

If you wait til 6 months you can give them near enough anything. Not honey or whole grapes obviously.

ExBrightonBell Tue 18-Feb-14 21:26:04

The thing that occurs to me about giving solid food so early is missing out on months of breastmilk. Bm contains so many things apart from basic nutrients that are necessary for development. Replacing that with fruit purée, baby rice or whatever is going to mean depriving the baby of those things. We can't necessarily tell what effect this will have in the long run.

There's no benefit to early weaning and plenty of risks.

AndWhat Tue 18-Feb-14 23:00:52

The main reason as said is the maturity of the gut and digestive system, also before 17 weeks the body doesn't produce the enzymes required to break down the foods.

The large and small intestines which pass the digestive food down to the bowels in a 'wave' motion are not mature and if it isn't ready to do so the waste can cause blockages causing the baby constipation and in the worst case can require a bowel resection, which would require the 'dead' part of the bowel being removed and reconnecting if this is not possible a stoma would be formed for the waste to be expelled via the stomach.

Also a baby under 4 months is unlikely to be able to sat up straight whilst feeding and therefore is more likely to choke ( you try eating with your head to one side - its not easy)

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