Saturday, 18 August 2012

Wean's world

Weaning time is almost upon us. And by weaning, I mean the gradual process of introducing solids, rather than getting the Boy immediately off breastmilk (weaning apparently means different things in different versions of English).

I'm quite excited about it. I have an extensive collection of recipe books, and am looking forward to getting the Boy enthusiastic about eating good food, doing baking, and learning more about where food comes from. I've been re-reading the "children's food" chapter in my Nigella Lawson books, and have a couple of specialist books on weaning, as well as finally buying the Hairy Biker's family cookbook (a book subtitled "Mums know best", which I found cut me like a knife when I was going through IVF treatment).

But, anyway, much of that is a longer-term project. For now, the immediate concern is when to start giving him solid food. This is the confusing bit.

Everyone seems to agree that babies should get nothing but milk until 17 weeks. Which is fine. After that, it gets a bit more hazy.

At the hospital, some of the midwives said that, although the government's line was 6 months until solids, that they thought there was a good case for introducing them a bit earlier.

Since I got out of hospital, most, although not all, of the health professionals I've come across have been manically advocating the 26 weeks rule.

I'd done a bit of reading myself - my family are prone to food allergies, so I wanted to make sure. Then I found a study saying that there was evidence that waiting until 26 weeks can actually cause allergies.

I asked one of the weaning experts about this, and she said something like "but our guidelines are from WHO which do the whole world so they're right", and said that if there were allergies in my family I should definitely wait until 6 months (she actually gave the impression I should maybe start thinking about weaning by the time the Boy is about 30).

As far as I know, the US and France recommend weaning at 4 months, and there's an argument that later weaning is of more benefit in countries without a reliably clean water supply. And no-one knows what causes allergies, so it seemed a bit of a leap for her to imply that they were definitely related to introducing solids before 26 weeks (I always trust health professionals more if they admit they actually don't know something! Some of them always, always make stuff up rather than letting you think they are not all-knowing).

On the other hand, my family all seem to be quite competitive about who can wean their babies earliest, and think that waiting until even 17 weeks is ludicrous. It is political correctness gone mad, and never did any of us any harm. And all our allergies are caused by "genetics" and are not remotely to do with early weaning. I pointed out that they couldn't actually know this for sure but got a dirty look for my trouble.

I'd love to put the weaning expert woman and my relatives in the same room and watch them fight it out. The winner would get to give the Boy a rusk. Or not.

Anyway, presumably as long I'm not pureeing up donner kebabs over the next week and getting the Boy to wash them down with some Pepsi Max then we will probably be ok.

But I'd love to know what the guidelines are where you are!

1 comment:

  1. My daughter's doctor (in Chicago) said I could start thinking about it any time after her 16 week check up -- when I felt ready and she seemed to be interested in watching us eat. I started her on rice cereal around 21 weeks and I think that is pretty average for this area. I did go to a class on making your own baby food and they were really pushing no solids until AFTER 6 months.