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Mothers advised not to delay weaning

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Parents who delay weaning their babies could be putting them at risk of developing iron deficiency anaemia, UK researchers have warned.

Parents who delay weaning their babies could be putting them at risk of developing iron deficiency anaemia, UK researchers have warned.

As part of the long-running Children of the 90’s project, researchers from Bristol University analysed the diets of over 900 children.

They found that babies who continued to have large amounts of milk at eight months old did not progress with weaning solids. Infants who were breast-fed six or more times a day were significantly less likely to get a wide range of nutrients, including iron, the researchers said.

David Hopkins, paediatric dietician at the Bristol Children’s Hospital, said: ‘We are certainly not against breast feeding as it has many benefits. But it makes sense that when you are trying to get a baby to take more weaning solids you should not be feeding them large amounts of fluids that will fill them up.’

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Latterlife Midwife

    I'm a bit shocked at this report, especially since the brevity does not allow for any clarification. Isn't it obvious that the addition of oral vitamins and iron would be an appropriate supplement, if actually needed? Have other readers of this article actually witnessed older infants refusing finger foods?? Indeed, happily breastfed babies of five or six months and up are usually diving towards their parents' plates to grab what everyone else is eating! I find the premise of this article very disturbing in light of the WHO's encouragement to breastfeed for closer to 2 years. Active weaning should only take place if the mother feels it is necessary. Breastfeeding whilst introducing interesting family food can easily co-exist well into the second year of a lucky child's life, with vitamin/iron drops or chewables if needed.

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  • I am also pro breastfeeding and agree that babies being breastfed should be allowed to self wean. I believe the term weaning is confusing as it can mean to discontinue milk or the introduction of solids. Weaning is not black or white. If a baby has too much milk there will be little interest in solids, however, it is still beneficial for milk feeds to be reduced to enable babies to commence solids. Solids do not provide just nutrients, as indicated by the preious comment of giving drops and chewables, chewing develops facial muscles, the act of the tongue positioning solid food develops the muscle for movement needed to develop clear speech. I know countless children who weaned late but also onto soft fish fingers, potato faces, beans, nuggetts etc or jars and they developed unclear speech. There has also been more recent research into the allergy risk posed by delaying weaning and it is suggested that 6mths is the optimum time to avoid allergies and yet have allowed the gut to mature enough to wean.

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