One in four East Midlands mums lack confidence introducing solid foods to their baby

Published on: Saturday, 9th February 2019

[1] Survey of 1,000 mothers of young children, conducted by Kantar on behalf of Public Health England in December 2018

Public Health England (PHE) has launched its first ever Start4Life campaign to help parents in the East Midlands introduce their baby to solid foods.

Official advice is that most babies should not start solid foods until they are around six months old.[1] By this point their bodies are better able to cope with solid foods and they are more able 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 had introduced solid foods by the time their baby was 5 months old.[2]

New research conducted for Public Health England found that common myths persist in the East Midlands about the signs a baby is ready for their first solid foods, including:

  • 45% of mums mistake wanting extra milk feeds as a sign that their baby is ready for solid foods;
  • 21% of mums mistakenly believe that a baby chewing their fists is a sign that they are ready to start weaning.
  • 18% of mums in mistakenly believe that waking up in the night is a sign a baby is ready for weaning.

The survey revealed that many parents have concerns around weaning with almost one in four mums in the East Midlands saying they didn’t feel confident when they introduced solid foods to their baby. Among the list of worries amongst mums 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.

A brand-new weaning hub has been launched on the Start4Life website to help parents during their weaning journey. Packed with NHS-approved advice and tips for each weaning stage, plus simple, healthy weaning recipes for different age groups, it puts everything parents 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.

Ann Crawford, Deputy Director, Health and Wellbeing at PHE East Midland’s, said: “Weaning is an important milestone in a baby’s development and is a great opportunity to guide their taste preferences and help them learn healthy eating habits that will stay with them for life.

“With nearly a quarter of parents in the East Midlands not confident about the weaning process, the new weaning hub on the Start4Life website is easily accessible and pulls all the NHS advice into one handy place, helping parents to gain confidence and enjoy introducing solid foods.”

Rosa Bell from Wollaton, Nottingham, a first-time mum of baby James (13 months) “I was very nervous about weaning. Being a first- time mum I felt like I’d just cracked breastfeeding so was nervous about a new challenge. Once I started weaning I wondered what I had been so nervous about. I loved watching James’ reaction to new foods. The health visitor had given me a list of first foods and I enjoyed ticking them off as he tried each new food. I’ve tried to mainly make James’ food for scratch, adapting family meals if I can as James enjoys eating the same food as us. When out and about we do use some pouches for ease, which helps with the amount of cooking.

“We found family members were keen to take part in weaning too so an easily accessible resource that everyone can access with key points and what to avoid would be really useful.”

Developed in partnership with parents, the weaning hub makes it easy for parents to find answers to their weaning questions and get information relevant to their baby’s age and weaning stage.

The campaign is being launched as part of the Start4Life programme, which aims to help parents adopt healthy behaviours during pregnancy, birth and their children’s early years.

To find out more visit:
[1] Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, Feeding in the First Year of Life (2018), p. xviii
[2] Diet and nutrition survey of infants and young children (DNSIYC), 2011

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