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Weaning at what age??? [confused]

(43 Posts)
EYPEdinburgh Thu 03-Apr-14 17:27:21

Im not a mother. Im a trainee Early Years Practitioner.

Im slightly confused about the subject of weaning.
Most websites ive looked at say the best time to wean is around six months old. Others say four months. Baby food is made for 4months onwards, so i assume that it is ok to wean at this age?

If a baby was to start being weaned at 7 months would you start them on food for a 4 month old or are they capable of coping with 7 month old food?

TheScience Thu 03-Apr-14 17:32:54

Babies should be weaned around 6 months - never before 4 months. Food manufacturers state from 4 months because they can.

A baby of 6 or 7 months can eat finger foods.

Here is the NHS guidance

BrianButterfield Thu 03-Apr-14 17:39:05

Baby food labelled from 4 months exists so people think it's ok to wean and will spend lots of money on mushed up food of dubious nutritional vakue rather than give babies real food. It is pureed smooth because 4 month old babies aren't really ready to eat and still have a tongue thrust reflex so if you do wean them you are basically pouring it down their throat for them.

CornishYarg Thu 03-Apr-14 17:56:42

If you wean later ie 6 months onwards, there's no need to follow the same weaning approach as you would if you weaned at 4 months, although of course you can if you want. So you can skip purees, baby rice etc and give the same food as the rest of the family in whatever texture you want - finger foods, chopped, mashed etc.

Spindelina Fri 04-Apr-14 13:37:27

When the official advice changed from "from 3 months" to "from 4 months", the regulations about what manufacturers could say on their packets changed accordingly.

When advice changed to "from around 6 months" the legislation didn't change. So there is nothing stopping manufacturers promoting their products as suitable from 4 months.

Manc451 Fri 04-Apr-14 22:01:35

It's 26 weeks officially, but people do start earlier and they do market food earlier...

TheScience Fri 04-Apr-14 22:03:06

I'm not sure official advice was ever "from 3 months" was it? I know in 1994 NHS advice changed from "4 months" to "4 to 6 months".

Passmethecrisps Fri 04-Apr-14 22:05:14

Some parents are advised to start weaning 'early' - meaning before 6 months. This would usually be because of some condition such as reflux.

Rather than ages stick to actual physiological can dos like sitting unaided and no tongue thrust reflex. And both won't always come at once.

AnythingNotEverything Sat 05-Apr-14 02:29:39

There's also different advice about what food babies can eat - before 6 months you're advised to only give fruit, veg and baby rice. After 6 months you only need avoid honey, whole nuts, salt, sugar and certain types of fish I believe.

The NHS weaning pages are great.

Spindelina Sat 05-Apr-14 19:10:55

TheScience I think it changed many years ago (80s maybe?) to 4 months minimum. In the middle of the last century, it was certainly normal to be introducing solids well before 4 months. That's what I remember from the BLW book (which I am too lazy to go and retrieve), anyway.

MissRatty Wed 09-Apr-14 22:03:18

It is actually between four and six months. It is a myth that digestive sysytems are not mature enough until 17 weeks, as preemies and babies with reflux (who have underdeveloped digestive systems compared to full term, non-refluxy babies) are often weaned earlier than 17 weeks.

It is confusing agreed, but the only reason why six months is stated by the WHO is due to sterelisation of equipment in developing countries. I do wish people would stop bandying the six month rule out without the evidence.

Even the WHO, who set the recommendation, state that there is no difference in weaning at four and six months. In fact studies have shown weaning earlier than 6 months to be more beneficial than waiting to six months (take a look at the Cochrane website for all evidence based and peer reviewed trials).

Links to WHO statement (last paragraph)

BBC news article (bit tabloidy but you can google the evidence)

Cochrane Library

tiktok Thu 10-Apr-14 18:08:03

Not for the first time, here I am asking MissRatty to check her info.

There are no studies showing four mths is more beneficial than 6 mths. None.

Four mths as a starting date is not unsafe for most babies.

But it is not a myth that 6 mths is solely to do with sterilising of equipment. What rubbish.

Guidance in most countries is that babies are fine on breastmilk only till about 6 mths. In most cases there is no need for special baby food.

CuteLittleToes Thu 10-Apr-14 20:51:57

Even the WHO, who set the recommendation, state that there is no difference in weaning at four and six months.

I'm sorry but you got it completely wrong. Based on that link to WHO website that you have provided there is no significant benefit for the baby in terms of growth wether they are on solids at 4 or 6 months. Which means introducing solids earlier does not make any difference in baby's weight or length.

MissRatty Thu 17-Apr-14 22:33:39

Sorry tiktok if this is not what you agree with, and I know that you are very well versed on infant feeding. We were told this by three separate professionals, one NHS and one private paediatric dietician and a neonatologist also.

All babies are different and any study can have its flaws but the WHO does not state that babies should not be weaned before 6 months, their document states that there are "no apparent risks in exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months" (as a public health policy). I was merely pointing out that there is not enough evidence to suggest that before six months the digestive system is not mature enough.

I'm not suggesting that weaning at four or six months or anywhere in between is more beneficial in terms of growth or weight gain, as no significant differences have been found in the majority of studies.

Some babies may be ready for weaning at four months, some may still not be ready at six months.

MissRatty Thu 17-Apr-14 22:36:47

To add, exclusive breastfeeding until six months is very beneficial in protecting the gut against gastric problems that could occur due to the introduction of foods.

MissRatty Thu 17-Apr-14 23:02:09

Sorry OP, but the answer is that the best age is when your baby shows true signs of being ready, not the age on a pouch or the recommendations of Cow and Gate.

My postings above are based only on my experiences, what we have been told by health professionals and reading around journals on the subject. As a self confessed tree-hugging mother Earth type I swore that my LO would only have breastmilk until 6mo, but sadly this hasn't worked for us. There is no reason why you should start early just because others have or it says you can on the packet, your baby needs to be ready and it should be an enjoyable experience for you (although very messy!).

We have also been referred to the neonatologist, as our contact to date has been via my worried telephone conversations with the Healthcare professionals...we have not physically seen them with the exception of one occasion for initial assessment. We are weaning early only because of reflux in our baby, and his poor weight gain, and at this he is having small amounts mixed with high calorie formula which he has been prescribed. He does not sleep any never be tempted to wean because of this urban myth!

If you are concerned, chat to your health visitor or GP. There is probably no need to start on purees at post six months of age, as many start baby led weaning on true solids then. Purees could just be an additional texture for them to try with the rest of their diet.

AntoinetteCosway Thu 17-Apr-14 23:15:09

I'm pregnant and my midwife told me recently that the guidelines are about to be changed back to 4 months-personally I can't imagine doing BLW at 4 months so I'll be sticking to 6 again.

MissRatty Fri 18-Apr-14 08:28:14

There has been discussion that the guidelines may change again...its all not very helpful for us parents!

I asked an old uni friend about the allergy reference and she is going to try to dig it out for me when she's back from hols.

MissRatty Fri 18-Apr-14 13:36:36

This has references to some of my statements above (regarding sterilising equipment/sanitary practices, allergies and other issues). This is all in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Links to each study are at the foot if you want to read more about each statement.

So actually there are some studies which show weaning to be more beneficial before 6 months, and also some which show the opposite.

I'd really appreciate it if there are other views that references (peer-reviewed, not just from Kellymom!) are given, as it's not entirely appropriate to make sweeping statements without the evidence being available.

Mothers (and all guardians) should be able to research the topic and make up their own minds.

Apologies for bashing on about it, but it does cheese me off...I'm still exceptionally anal about not backing up statements...but that's what you get from a prior career in medical research. I do need to chill out and remember that this is a forum and not a scientific website!

Best of luck to everyone on whatever weaning journey they take x


MissRatty Fri 18-Apr-14 13:36:59

The link would help!!

tiktok Sat 19-Apr-14 07:52:25

missratty I am a bit confused by your posts and I bet it's not just me smile

Your original post on this thread made statements you offered as facts and you linked to supposedly supporting references

Now you say the statements are based on your experiences and on what you have been told.

There are no studies showing weaning at four months is better than weaning at six months. For most babies weaning at four months is not unsafe, but it's not better than six.

The paper you have linked to doesn't say four months is better.

I stand by my original criticism of your posts. I don't think you can be reading the papers correctly.

tiktok Sat 19-Apr-14 07:56:43

Antoinette, your midwife is wrong.

There are no plans to change uk guidance.

The topic is always under review and it may change in the future but you should ask her where she heard this.

The review body is SACN. Their minutes and agendas are on the web. No plans under discussion.

AntoinetteCosway Sat 19-Apr-14 09:42:31

Really? That's so weird-I wonder why she would have said it!

tiktok Sat 19-Apr-14 14:00:50

Because she has not informed herself properly. She's listened to a rumour or overheard something or misunderstood something. Not unknown!

AntoinetteCosway Sat 19-Apr-14 14:22:43

Sounds likely. Yo

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