Weaning Myths – busted!
with thanks to TeenyWeaning
Weaning is such an exciting milestone for both parents and baby, but it can also be a confusing one and with so much conflicting advice out there it is difficult to know which advice to follow. In the following blog, registered dietitian and expert in weaning and fussy eating, Sarah Lindsay Brown, will debunk some of the common weaning myths to help get you started.
Myth #1 : My mum weaned me at three months, so it must be fine for me to do the same with my baby
Over the years, advice has changed and it is currently thought best for babies to start weaning at around 6 months. However, all babies are different, so look out for these three developmental signs of readiness. These are:
(1) baby can stay supported in a sitting position and hold head steady
2) baby can look at food and put it into their mouth all by his/herself
3) baby can swallow food so more is swallowed than pushed back out.
All experts agree to never give solids before 17 weeks and babies are generally not ready for finger foods until 6 months and so baby-led weaning is not really suitable until this time.
Myth #2: My baby is ready for weaning because he/she is waking in the night after a period of sleeping through
Starting solids won’t make a baby more likely to sleep through the night and extra milk feeds are usually enough until a baby is showing the developmental signs of readiness. Besides, the small amount of solid foods that babies consume at the start of weaning don’t contain many calories.
Myth #3: Food is only for fun under 1
Learning to eat is important for many different reasons and although we want our children to love food and of course for weaning to be fun, it is important to understand that weaning is important for nutritional sources in addition to usual milk feeds. Baby is born with stores of iron and by 6 months these stores are depleted. Breast milk or infant formula will provide enough iron for the first 6 months of life but after this weaning foods should include iron-rich sources such as red meat, oily fish, eggs, green leafy veg, lentils and pulses. Biting and chewing helps with the development of muscles needed for speech and handling finger foods and spoons helps with the development of motor skills and coordination. So there is lots to gain through learning to eat solids.
Myth #4: I should delay giving peanut products to my baby
Wrong again! Deliberately delaying giving allergenic foods, including peanuts, may increase risk of baby having a food allergy to those foods. Guidelines say if your baby is at higher-risk (has early onset eczema (in first 3 months), moderate-severe eczema or already has a food allergy) they may benefit from early introduction of solids from 4 months (when baby is ready). For these babies try well-cooked egg and then peanut (ground or smooth nut butter) given alongside other complementary foods, and then try other allergenic foods (following advice for introducing allergens in weaning). For all other babies (not higher risk) it is fine to introduce peanut products from 6 months and do not delay beyond 12 months. Give peanut in the form of 1) a smooth peanut butter which can be thinned by adding warm water (boiled) which can be stirred into purees, 2) ground peanuts which can be added to purees too, or 3) Puff peanut snacks (these can be crushed). There are some great peanut butters out there that are 100% nut with no additives. Follow all other advice for introducing allergens and remember no whole nuts before age 5 due to choking risk.
Myth #5: I’m formula feeding and I should switch to a follow-on formula at 6 months and during weaning.
This is a really common myth and is not necessary! Formula fed babies can continue on a first infant formula until they are 12 months of age. There is little difference in the composition of follow-on formula (FOF) and first infant formula except the FOF has slighter more iron – but from the age of around 6 months a weaning baby can be introduced to iron-rich foods alongside a formula or breast milk.
Myth #6: Babies don’t need vitamin supplements during weaning
Actually they do! in the UK it is recommended that all children aged 6 months to 5 years have a daily supplement of Vitamins A, C and D (apart from babies having more than 500ml of formula daily as formula is fortified). Breastfed babies should be given a daily supplement of vitamin D from birth.
Myth #7: My baby does not like certain vegetables so I’ll stop offering them
Research shows that repeated exposure to new foods and role modelling (ie by eating vegetables yourself) are key to getting children to like vegetables. We are born with an innate liking for sweet foods and enjoyment of bitter tastes is a learnt process.
So don’t give up on encouraging your little one to eat their veggies (but with no pressure to eat them), show them how much you like your veggies too and increase exposure to veggies as much as you can through play.
Teeny Weaning provides trustworthy, up-to-date and balanced advice on early years nutrition including weaning, toddler nutrition, fussy eating, pregnancy nutrition and nutrition for new mums as well as group workshops and tailored 1:1 advice. For more information about Sarah, visit here website, email her or follow her on Facebook or Instagram: @teenyweaning
Disclaimer: The views and advice given in this article are those of the guest writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Weaning World or any other organisations represented on this platform