Weaning – When is Your Baby’s Digestive System Ready For Solid Foods?

- Baby Food Recipes –

According to the UK Health Promotion Agency, weaning before six months is not recommended. They remind us that most infants’ digestive systems and kidneys are not sufficiently developed until six months.

Ideally weaning would begin at six months of age, although research shows that it’s commonly started at four months.

Much will depend on the baby and the mum. When the time comes that a baby is too hungry to rely only on breastmilk or Formula, and requires frequent feeding (every 2 hours over a period of 5 days), it might be time to consider weaning. Excessive night waking and crying or irritability, due to hunger, may also be a sign that the baby is ready.

According to the UK Health Promotion Agency, weaning before six months is not recommended. They remind us that most infants’ digestive systems and kidneys are not sufficiently developed until six months.

Ideally weaning would begin at six months of age, although research shows that it’s commonly started at four months.

There are pros and cons to weaning early or late, as follows:

Weaning too early increases the risk of food allergies due to the immaturity of the digestive system. Early weaning may also cause the baby to gain too much weight, which is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases later in life.

On the other hand, leaving weaning too late may mean that the baby will not get enough nutrients to support the development of the immune system, and may grow quite slowly. The baby also needs to learn to use the muscles of the mouth, which will help with speech, swallowing and the ability to chew harder foods.

Rather confusingly for the new mum, suggestions and opinions can vary as to the types of foods to use and the methods for weaning, but here are some basic suggestions which are generally agreed upon:

  • Delay the introduction of citrus fruits, nuts and grains containing gluten (wheat, oats, barley and rye). After approximately 9-12 months, try oats, barley and rye. Only if these are OK, introduce wheat if desired. Even better, leave wheat as long as possible.
  • Avoid cows milk until 12 months or later. A good alternative Formula feed is called “Nanny Goat”. Goats milk has smaller protein molecules, so is easier to digest. Sheeps milk is best of all but doesn’t taste so good.
  • Avoid peanuts for as long as possible (some authorities recommend at least 7 years) (peanuts are legumes, not nuts)
  • Avoid sugar and added salt (the immature kidneys cannot deal with excessive salt)

There are various good books with plenty of healthy suggestions as to what to feed your baby, and to help you out of any confusion you may understandably feel as to the when, what and how of weaning. I like “What to Feed Your Baby” by Suzannah Olivier, who is a trained nutritional therapist, but you’ll find others in any good bookshop.

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