Ten things I didn’t know about weaning and baby health

April 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 2 Comments
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I went to a weaning workshop at the local children’s centre last week.  I’m always impressed at all the free services they offer as well as the drop in messy play, sensory sessions and other groups they put on for a small donation.

So, I went along to find out about weaning – even though Sully is our second, we’ve weaned him early at four months of age after he started refusing a bottle completely and stopped sleeping, so I wanted to find out the best course of action for a young baby.

It did not start well.  The first task was to introduce ourselves, our babies and why we had come along.  I was first and on declaring that I’d already started weaning and explaining why I was met with disapproving raised eyebrows and references to the Department of Health guidelines that you should NOT, NOT, NOT begin weaning before six months.  I was also asked if I had spoken to my health visitor so I meekly said no and that as he was my second I was comfortable trusting my judgement.  I went straight to the bottom of the class.

Everyone else introduced themselves.  I still didn’t seem to move up the class when one mother introduced her five month old daughter who wasn’t weaning yet but had tried an Easter Egg and had enjoyed her first malted milk biscuit.

I couldn’t knock it as I did learn some new things – mainly because the guidelines seem to change from week to week but I’m open to new ideas.  I haven’t taken any of the following as gospel, but these are the things I didn’t know until last week.

1. If you’re expressing breast milk and bottle feeding, you don’t need to sterilise anything.  It’s the bacteria in milk formula that means you have to sterilise.

2. The reason you shouldn’t wean pre-six months is because the stomach has holes in it that don’t close up until this age.  Your baby is also more likely to develop allergies or intolerances if you wean early.

3.  You should start your baby on fruit and vegetable not baby rice or baby porridge as your baby is more likely to have an intolerance to these.

4. Within three weeks of starting weaning at six months of age, your baby should be eating meals like cottage pie and finger foods like broccoli.  

5. Finger foods like carrots can be raw. This really surprised me – I can’t imagine a six month old tackling a raw carrot.  Apparently it’s best not to purée  go straight to lumpy food to get your baby used to it quickly.  

6. Portion sizes should be based on the size of your baby’s fist.

7. If your water doesn’t have fluoride in, you should use a (non-whitening) adult toothpaste.  You should start brushing as soon as your baby gets their first tooth.

8. The latest guidelines suggest you move your child onto semi skimmed milk aged two.  This is due to current child obesity levels.  Personally I think that it’s something quite different that is the cause of our children’s health issues, not that we give them full fat milk.

9.  All children should be given vitamin drops – even babies.  These are free to some families.  I’ve decided not to give our children vitamin drops as I feel quite strongly that they have a healthy balanced diet.  They’re never ill (touch wood) so I don’t think it’s necessary.

10.  Any drinks given to your baby other than milk should be given from a cup or beaker with a spout, not a bottle with a teat.  This is so that they can differentiate and move onto a cup as soon as possible.

So, it was an interesting session.  The biggest piece of advice, apart from the fact that I MUST speak to my health visitor, that I took away is that I should be starting on fruit rather than baby rice.  This surprised me as I saw baby rice as the first logical step of weaning.  However, as we’ve seen no sign of intolerances, I’m still using it, mixed with apple and pear.

We also tasted jars of baby food during the session and I can honestly say I will never be buying Cow & Gate cauliflower cheese or spaghetti bolognese.  I’ve never tasted anything more disgusting.  Babies have taste buds too, so I don’t think I’ll be inflicting that on him!  Sully does however favour their formula.

Finally, the tutor showed the food wheel, broken down into different sized portions based on what quantities of fruit, vegetables, carbs, fats etc children should have in their diet.  Unfortunately the fats section included chocolate, burgers and coke – she had to clarify that these were not suitable for babies.  Just in case you were wondering…..


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  1. I’ve never been to a weaning workshop but that one sounds both informative and slightly frightening at the same time! We’ve started BLW with Izzy and as with you, she’s our second but I still feel a bit lost with the seemingly constant change of whats okay and whats not. I’m a great believer in following instincts though and I love watching her tackle new foods even when the clean up afterwards can be a nightmare!

    Oh and he looks scrummy!

    Michelle x

    • Ah thank you! How old is Izzy? Are you giving her raw finger food? Would be interested to hear from people who are and how they’ve found it

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