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In 2001 the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months was best for babies. In 2003, the UK adopted the recommendation. During the early part of 2011, scientists advocated rewriting the rulebook to drop these guidelines. This has outraged breastfeeding campaigners, and has caused utter confusion for parents with small children.

In reality, very few mothers in the UK manage to stick to six months of breast feeding with a baby who by then is taking an interest in the contents of people’s plates. It is estimated that only about 20% breastfeed at all at six months (source Mary Fewtrell from the childhood nutrition research centre at UCL Institute of Child Health)

According to this latest evidence, failing to start weaning on to solid food before six months suggests the baby may have a greater chance of iron deficiency anaemia, and a higher incidence of food allergies. The third potential issue is celiac disease.

Most Health Visitors support the WHO recommendation, but argue that it needs to be interpreted differently in different countries. For example, exclusive breast feeding protects against infections, which is critical in developing countries, but less important in the UK where hygiene and sanitation are better.

Generally, all Health Visitors agree that in no circumstances should weaning commence prior to the 17th week and no later than the 26th week of your baby’s age.

If, like many parents you remain confused or would like more support with any aspect of weaning then call to arrange a home consultation.