Friday, 5 October 2012


Before the Boy, I knew about the formula vs breastfeeding debate, the disposable vs reusable nappy debate, the natural birth vs a section debate, and all the others. Roughly, you can group them into a "I'm going to be as natural as possible and save the planet" and a "A bit of technology and convenience goes a long way, and can sometimes be essential".

I didn't know about the early weaning debate, about whether or not babies should get any food before 6 months.

On one side, there is WHO, websites like Kellymom, and various other right-on people. Giving solids before 6 months can damage your baby's health, they say. Wait, let them go straight onto meat, dairy, chunkier food. Avoid the evils of the baby food industry and the monotony of purees.

On the other side, there is the baby food industry, most older people, who remember when babies were weaned at 12 weeks. The only evidence is that babies should not get solids before 17 weeks. There's some evidence that waiting until 6 months can mean your son or daughter is more likely to develop allergies. Older health professionals generally have a "every baby is different" approach, which makes sense to me.

 I find the supermarket aisle that's full of lurid looking baby food a bit alarming, though. Over the years, I've gradually stopped eating ready meals. There's something that goes against the grain to make the Boy eat stuff out a packet or a jar when I find most processed food flavourless, and full of suspicious chemicals. I can understand using them occasionally - but the idea of giving jars all the time is not appealing.

So, I've started giving the Boy food before 6 months, but only home cooked, so far. It feels like the right choice - he's certainly interested, and positively enjoys chowing down on mashed bananas, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, swede, and other sweet root veg. He usually makes cooing noises, and occasionally shouts at us if we don't feed him fast enough. He has had several attempts at feeding himself with the spoon, with more enthusiasm than skill - he usually ends up smearing a fair bit of the food over his face before it finds his mouth. He's not so keen on potatoes, but I can live with that.

As usual, I find the "natural is best" camp slightly frustrating - it seems to be as much about judging as anything else. There's too much ideology involved, I think. Somewhere along the line, being pro breastfeeding appears to have turned into wanting to breastfeed exclusively for as long as you possibly can, and be positively delighted if your baby doesn't want any food at 6 months. I don't think giving some pureed parsnip at 18 weeks is the same as putting a rusk in the bottle at 8 weeks, or shoveling additives, vodka or crack into his little mouth, but some of the early weaning hardliners definitely seem to believe it is. I think some of the smugness attached to this makes it less likely that some women will ask advice.

Anyway, we will carry on with the purees. Anyway, it's not at all long before we hit the six month mark, and then the fun will really begin.


  1. I'm always put off by any group that says their way is the only way. Life just doesn't really work like that.

  2. You know, I totally cracked with the purist "I will cook as much as I can myself" method. We went away for a weekend and the Boy guzzled stuff out of jars. And it's a slippery slope, as he had two tonight as they're easier and save washing up. Ah well, he can train to be a food critic later in life!