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    When to wean?

    Campaign cuts through myths, brings new 24/7 online advice to parents in Tameside and Glossop

    • New Start4Life campaign launched to boost parents’ and carers’ confidence in weaning their baby
    • New survey data shows one in four mums (23%) in the North West did not feel confident introducing solid foods[1]
    • Findings also reveal common misconceptions in the North West around the signs that a baby is ready to start weaning

    A new campaign from Public Health England (PHE) will help parents and carers in Tameside and Glossop understand when best to introduce their babies to solid foods.

    The campaign is being launched as part of the Start4Life programme, which aims to boost health during pregnancy, birth and children’s early years.

    Official advice being given to parents and carers in Tameside and Glossop is that most babies should not start solid foods until they are around six months old.[2] By this point their bodies are better able to cope with solid foods and they are more able to feed themselves. They are also better at moving food around their mouth, chewing and swallowing. The last UK Infant Feeding Survey showed that three-quarters of parents and carers had introduced solid foods by the time their baby was only 5 months old.[3]

    A brand-new weaning hub has also been launched on the Start4Life website which will help parents and carers when weaning their baby. Packed with NHS-approved advice and tips for each weaning stage, plus simple, healthy weaning recipes for different age groups, it puts everything parents and carers need to know in one place. It also includes new videos showing the signs that indicate babies are ready to wean, how much food to give, and weaning tips from other parents and carers.

    Developed in partnership with parents and carers, the weaning hub makes it easy to find answers to weaning questions and get information relevant to a baby’s age and weaning stage. The hub is intended to provide 24/7 online advice which will complement the support already available from health visitors.
    [1] Survey of 1,000 mothers of young children, conducted by Kantar on behalf of Public Health England in December 2018
    [1] Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, Feeding in the First Year of Life (2018), p. xviii https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/feeding-in-the-first-year-of-life-sacn-report
    [1] Diet and nutrition survey of infants and young children (DNSIYC), 2011 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/diet-and-nutrition-survey-of-infants-and-young-children-2011

    “Common myths”

    New research conducted for Public Health England found that common myths persist in the North West about the signs a baby is ready for their first solid foods, including:
    • 52% of parents and carers think wanting extra milk feeds as a sign that their baby is ready for solid foods.
    • 24% of parents and carers believe that a baby chewing their fists is a sign that they are ready to start weaning.
    • 26% of parents and carers believe that waking up in the night is a sign a baby is ready for weaning.

    The survey revealed that many parents and carers have concerns around weaning with one in four parents and carers (23%) in the North West saying they didn’t feel confident when they introduced solid foods to their baby. Among the list of worries amongst parents and carers included choking, allergic reactions to new foods, how much food to give their baby, and concern that their baby won’t eat enough or will reject food.

    Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, Director of Population Health for Tameside, said: “The survey findings show just how many people find it difficult to understand when the right time is to start weaning their baby.

    “The new hub will hopefully be of great benefit and give parents and carers in Tameside and Glossop the confidence they need to understand when is the right time to start solid food.”
    Public Health England nutritionist Orla Hugueniot said: “Introducing solid foods is an important stage in a baby’s development. It’s a great opportunity to guide their taste preferences and help them learn healthy eating habits that will stay with them for life.
    “We know that parents have lots of questions about weaning and that many feel nervous about it. That’s why our new weaning hub on the Start4Life website puts all of the NHS advice in one place, helping parents to be more confident and enjoy this big milestone in their child’s life.”