When should babies start on solid food? One in four parents in East Anglia aren’t sure

Apple and her husband, from Suffolk, started weaning their son Audley at five months old. Picture: P

Apple and her husband, from Suffolk, started weaning their son Audley at five months old. Picture: PHE - Credit: Archant

Nearly a quarter of parents in the east of England said they didn’t feel confident in knowing when they should introduce solid foods to their babies.

A survey revealed that 24% of mothers, one in four, lacked confidence with fear of choking, allergic reactions to new foods, how much food to give their baby and fears that their baby wouldn’t eat enough or reject food among the list of concerns voiced by mothers.

The study carried out by Public Health England (PHE) shows that there are common myths about how to know when a baby is ready for their first solid food.

The survey of 1,000 mothers found that 48% mistake wanting extra milk feeds as a sign that their baby is ready to be weaned.

While it also found that 38% of mums mistakenly believed that chewing their fists was a sign and 24% think that waking up in the night means their baby is ready.

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Public Health have launched a Start4Life campaign to help parents with a brand-new weaning hub packed with NHS-approved advice.

Official advice suggests that most babies should not start solid foods until they are around six months old – at this point their bodies are more able to cope as they are more likely to be able to feed themselves.

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At this age they are also better at chewing, swallowing and moving food around their mouths.

Apple, who lives in Suffolk with her husband, started weaning her son Audley, when he was five months old as recommended by a health visitor, because he wasn’t gaining weight sufficiently. Despite taking the advice and trying, Apple found that he didn’t end up fully taking to it until six months.

She believes she would have benefited from the weaning hub with all its advice and information and comments. She said: “There is a lot of contradictory information out there and it can be overwhelming knowing where to start or whether you are doing it right. I was very nervous before I started.”

Grace Norman, Public Health Registrar at PHE East of England, said: “Many new parents feel anxious about introducing solid foods, and now PHE has launched a new Start4Life hub to help.

“This one-stop-shop of information and advice will support parents with weaning, allowing them to feel confident and enjoy the exciting experience of watching their baby try food for the first time.”

The research follows a survey of 1,000 mothers of young children, conducted by Kantar on behalf of Public Health England in December 2018.

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