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what are the negatives to giving food earlier than 6 months?

(18 Posts)
Misty9 Sat 23-Aug-14 20:28:44

Dd is 19 weeks (I think) and very alert etc for her age. She's had good head control for ages and is trying to sit up. She also seems very interested in food and tries to swipe at our plates. Now, I used to scoff at people saying this and think well yes, babies swipe at everything - but it really is just food with her!

With ds we did blw and he steadily lost weight and dropped down the charts while we stupidly stuck to our guns about not spoon feeding him. He finally got the hang of it at about 10 months... blush so the whole spoon feeding thing is a new world for us!

She's breastfed frequently and generally a good sleeper at night, but is there any reason we can't introduce say mashed carrot?

CultureSucksDownWords Sat 23-Aug-14 20:49:45

You can of course introduce mashed carrot as she is older than 17 weeks. Many people want to wean as early as you want to so you would not be unusual in that.

Mashed carrot will have less calories than breastmilk though, and less nutrients, so it won't help with weight gain if that's a concern.

You may find that she still has her tongue thrust reflex, and may automatically push out food. You would need to ensure that she is upright when being fed and not slumped forward or sideways.

My attitude to this would be, what is the point of doing this now? I don't see that there would be any benefits to doing it now, when you could wait till nearer 26 weeks (and spoon feed then if you like).

NorahBone Mon 25-Aug-14 22:03:15

I didn't realise how hard it would be to wait until 6 months. If the advice hadn't changed we would definitely have started around 19 weeks because they do seem desperate to eat grin.
I don't really know much about the health reasons for delaying weaning until 6 months, but annecdotally if babies are spoon fed too long before finger foods are an option they can become a bit difficult to move on from mush.

corkgirlindublin Mon 25-Aug-14 22:12:37

Milk is supposed to be the main source of calories and nutrients till 1 so I'm surprised your first.lost weight if he was getting adequate milk.

The virgin gut theory is another good reason to hold off till around 6 months

ReluctantCamper Mon 25-Aug-14 22:22:02

Personal opinion here....

Your baby has a supply of iron that they built up while inside you. It's used up by about 6 months. Breast milk contains no iron. Therefore i wanted DS to be eating a reasonable amount of iron rich food by the time he was 6 months. So I started weaning at around 20 weeks so I could introduce foods slowly, one at a time so I had plenty of time to monitor for allergies.

the ebf for 6 months thing makes loads of sense in the third world where keeping feeding utensils clean is difficult, but over here, I really question its value.

ShowMeShowMeTheWine Mon 25-Aug-14 22:30:54

Reluctant- who on earth told you breastmilk has no iron?! It does and is much more efficiently absorbed than other sources of iron that are available.

smogsville Mon 25-Aug-14 22:36:40

One overriding negative - effort! Especially if going from EBF. I held out for the full six months out of sheer laziness. That iron thing can't be true as health visitors tell you to start with simple purées of fruit and veg which I can't imagine contain much iron?

Then again it could all have changed since 2012 grin

CultureSucksDownWords Mon 25-Aug-14 22:38:00

Breastmilk does contain iron. Mature BM contains around 76 micrograms of iron of which 70 to 90 percent can be absorbed by a baby's system. (See pg 64 of this for details).

So, as long as you give a daily multivitamin from 6 months that includes iron, your baby will get plenty of iron even if they are eating very little food.

catkind Mon 25-Aug-14 22:41:32

I've been having a trawl around on this one since there's some argumentative threads on BLW fb sites recently.

Quote from the most recent literature survey I could find, here:

"Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (versus three to four months, with continued mixed breastfeeding thereafter) reduces gastrointestinal infection and helps the mother lose weight and prevent pregnancy but has no long-term impact on allergic disease, growth, obesity, cognitive ability, or behaviour.

The results of two controlled trials and 21 other studies suggest that exclusive breastfeeding (no solids or liquids besides human milk, other than vitamins and medications) for six months has several advantages over exclusive breastfeeding for three to four months followed by mixed breastfeeding. These advantages include a lower risk of gastrointestinal infection, more rapid maternal weight loss after birth, and delayed return of menstrual periods. No reduced risks of other infections, allergic diseases, obesity, dental caries, or cognitive or behaviour problems have been demonstrated. A reduced level of iron has been observed in developing-country settings."

- so it looks like increased risk of gastrointestinal infection is the main demonstrated disadvantage to the baby of weaning before 6 months. People speculate about the risks of allergies, coeliac disease, or diabetes being higher one way or the other but I haven't been able to find any decisive evidence either way.

KateG2010 Tue 26-Aug-14 09:52:23

My HV came round to give the weaning talk last week, and the NHS booklet she left behind does state that breast milk has insufficient iron for a 6 month+ baby and thus it's important to introduce iron rich foods from 6 months. It also states though that you should introduce new flavours slowly to prevent fussy eaters later, and seems to have difficulty reconciling the two things. When discussing it she actually told me that she is only allowed to tell me about the official policy, and even if she had a different opinion she wouldn't be allowed to say so hmm.

The research I've done myself from various sources indicates that solids from 17 weeks are fine for any baby without a family history of allergies etc, and I've decided to wean at 22 weeks for the same reasons as reluctantcamper - to introduce flavours slowly so that by 6 months we're a bit more ready for more nutritious food.

Chunderella Tue 26-Aug-14 15:53:05

Breastmilk doesn't have no iron, it just doesn't have enough unless they're having huge amounts of it. It does have some though, and although it isn't enough it's easily absorbed. If you think about it, there's no reason why it would: we're born with enough for about 6 months and babies should start solid food then, so we just haven't evolved to get much of our iron from milk because there's no need.

At 19 weeks some babies are ready, but not all, and it's always hard to be sure which category yours falls into- the fact that they want something doesn't necessarily mean they'll cope well with it. Hence the advice is to wait a bit longer. I think if you have a particularly hungry baby too, which yours seems to be, it can make things tougher because at that age she'll only really be able to have quite low calorie foods such as fruit, veg and baby rice. It might actually be easier in a few weeks when you've got more choice about what she can have.

JassyRadlett Tue 26-Aug-14 16:02:42

Also worth noting that my brilliant sleeper's sleep turned to shit when we started weaning. He was filling up but not getting enough calories during the day.

Misty9 Tue 26-Aug-14 18:35:10

Thanks all. Yes, my main question was is there any harm in introducing solids earlier and the literature seems to say not. But I agree, there's also no harm in waiting a few weeks!

As I understand it, iron stores start to deplete after 6 months, they don't disappear overnight, so I'm not too worried on that front. My first survived purely on milk until he was nearly one! I know breast milk is more calorific than any veg puree-we certainly don't need to worry about her wasting away shall we say!

Anyway, tried her with something the other day and tongue thrust reflex still well and truly there. So we'll wait smile

Chunderella Tue 26-Aug-14 20:04:02

That's really interesting- proof positive that taking an interest in solids doesn't necessarily mean a child is ready to eat them. Quite the opposite, in this case! I guess the food you eat probably looks like a fascinating toy to DD, and she doesn't want to be left out.

Misty9 Tue 26-Aug-14 21:55:43

She did look mighty interested in my gold magnum this evening, reaching out and rooting even! but I kept it all for myself grin

FinallyGotAnIPhone Tue 26-Aug-14 22:01:21

My first baby I weaned at 5 months second I held out until 6 to suit me more than anything as I was going on holiday. So much easier with the second as she could sit up, had better hand eye coordination etc.

hollie84 Wed 27-Aug-14 16:11:13

After 4 months I don't think it really has any significant risks, so long as you ensure it doesn't mean they're not taking enough milk. I weaned both mine at about 5 months as they were able to grab food, get it in their mouths and swallow it!

roxanneeubank333 Tue 16-Sep-14 15:43:25

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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