thread: Is starting early really that bad?

  1. #1
    BellyBelly Member

    Mar 2007

    Is starting early really that bad?

    DD is 4.5 months old and has been having solids morning and night, so twice a day. It is not replacing a milk feed. She loves her food. Is is really that bad to introduce solids earlier than 6 months?

  2. #2
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jan 2006

    There are a number of things to consider. food does displace milk (even if she's having the same number of feeds, she is likely to be taking somewhat lessoverall). Then there's the question of gut rediness, etc.
    Is it bad? Well, on average it might be, for one particular child, who knows? I suppose you and she are probably best able to tell that.

  3. #3
    BellyBelly Member

    Sep 2010
    North West Victoria, Australia

    Its really your decision. I dont think it would do any hard at all.

    You have to go with your gut.

  4. #4
    2013 BellyBelly RAK Recipient.

    Apr 2006
    Winter is coming

    'They' are now recommending that solids can be introduced from 4 months. If you and she are happy then go for it

  5. #5
    BellyBelly Member

    Mar 2007

    Thanks Ladies. Maybe I should limit to one solids intake a day, seeing as I often have supply issues. I might see how she goes without her morning brekky.

    Arte - I heard the 4 month thing too.

  6. #6
    BellyBelly Member

    Jan 2011
    Perth, WA

    Recommendations change all the time...they go back and forth so I think you should trust your instincts and your babies cues.
    When I had my first 2 (and even to an extent my second two) the recommendation was 4 months and none of them have allergies or gut issues.

  7. #7
    BellyBelly Member

    Sep 2009

    The professionals are always changing their minds, check out this article:

    A food fight over babies | thetelegraph.com.au

  8. #8
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jan 2006

    Actually, the official recommendation has not changed for some time.

    However, the The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy has changed its advice - to introduce between 4-6 months, but not before 4.
    (from their info, with thanks to Epacris )
    - There have been some suggestions that delaying introduction of foods may actually increase (rather than decrease) allergy, however at this stage this is not proven.
    - There is insufficient evidence to support previous advice to specifically delay or avoid potentially allergenic foods (such as egg, peanuts, nuts, wheat, cow's milk and fish) for the prevention of food allergy or eczema. This also applies to infants with siblings who already have allergies to these foods.

    Mantaray has posted a sticky with some interesting links on this also

  9. #9
    BellyBelly Member
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    Aug 2007

    As others have said It's a personal thing I think.

    I do recall reading somewhere (sure it was on here somewhere) that babies guts and digestive tracts arent properly formed (matured?) until 6 months or so of age, until then they are stll somewhat "open" to some extent which early introduction of solids can cause havoc with... can't really remember the rest of it... will see if I can find it and link it.

  10. #10
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Mar 2007

    I do recall reading somewhere (sure it was on here somewhere) that babies guts and digestive tracts arent properly formed (matured?) until 6 months or so of age, until then they are stll somewhat "open" to some extent which early introduction of solids can cause havoc with... can't really remember the rest of it... will see if I can find it and link it.
    Here you go

    Why Delay Solids?
    Health experts and breastfeeding experts agree that it's best to wait until your baby is around six months old before offering solid foods. There has been a large amount of research on this in the recent past, and most health organizations have updated their recommendations to agree with current research. Unfortunately, many health care providers are not up to date in what they're telling parents, and many, many books are not up to date.
    The following organizations recommend that all babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or any other foods) for the first 6 months of life (not the first 4-6 months):

    • World Health Organization
    • UNICEF
    • US Department of Health & Human Services
    • American Academy of Pediatrics
    • American Academy of Family Physicians
    • American Dietetic Association
    • Australian National Health and Medical Research Council
    • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
    • Health Canada

    Most babies will become developmentally and physiologically ready to eat solids by 6-9 months of age. For some babies, delaying solids longer than six months can be a good thing; for example, some doctors may recommend delaying solids for 12 months if there is a family history of allergies.
    Reasons for delaying solids
    Although some of the reasons listed here assume that your baby is breastfed or fed breastmilk only, experts recommend that solids be delayed for formula fed babies also.

    • Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness.
      Although babies continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they nurse, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains 50+ known immune factors, and probably many more that are still unknown. One study has shown that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 4+ months had 40% fewer ear infections than breastfed babies whose diets were supplemented with other foods. The probability of respiratory illness occurring at any time during childhood is significantly reduced if the child is fed exclusively breast milk for at least 15 weeks and no solid foods are introduced during this time. (Wilson, 1998) Many other studies have also linked the degree of exclusivity of breastfeeding to enhanced health benefits (see Immune factors in human milk and Risks of Artificial Feeding).
    • Delaying solids gives baby's digestive system time to mature.
      If solids are started before a baby's system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy. Gastric acid and pepsin are secreted at birth and increase toward adult values over the following 3 to 4 months. The pancreatic enzyme amylase does not reach adequate levels for digestion of starches until around 6 months, and carbohydrate enzymes such as maltase, isomaltase, and sucrase do not reach adult levels until around 7 months. Young infants also have low levels of lipase and bile salts, so fat digestion does not reach adult levels until 6-9 months.
    • Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies.
      It is well documented that prolonged exclusive breastfeeding results in a lower incidence of food allergies (see Allergy References and Risks of Artificial Feeding). From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an "open gut." This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby's bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby's first 4-6 months, while the gut is still "open," antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby's digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also. See How Breast Milk Protects Newborns and The Case for the Virgin Gut for more on this subject.
    • Delaying solids helps to protect baby from iron-deficiency anemia.
      The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby's iron absorption. Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores. In one study (Pisacane, 1995), the researchers concluded that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months (and were not give iron supplements or iron-fortified cereals) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at one year than breastfed babies who received solid foods earlier than seven months. The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia. See Is Iron-Supplementation Necessary? for more information.
    • Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.
      The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood. (for example, see Wilson 1998, von Kries 1999, Kalies 2005)
    • Delaying solids helps mom to maintain her milk supply.
      Studies have shown that for a young baby solids replace milk in a baby's diet - they do not add to baby's total intake. The more solids that baby eats, the less milk he takes from mom, and less milk taken from mom means less milk production. Babies who eat lots of solids or who start solids early tend to wean prematurely.
    • Delaying solids helps to space babies.
      Breastfeeding is most effective in preventing pregnancy when your baby is exclusively breastfed and all of his nutritional and sucking needs are satisfied at the breast.
    • Delaying solids makes starting solids easier.
      Babies who start solids later can feed themselves and are not as likely to have allergic reactions to foods.
    Signs that indicate baby is developmentally ready for solids include:

    • Baby can sit up well without support.
    • Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
    • Baby is ready and willing to chew.
    • Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
    • Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.

    We often state that a sign of solids readiness is when baby exhibits a long-term increased demand to nurse (sometime around 6 months or later) that is unrelated to illness, teething pain, a change in routine or a growth spurt. However, it can be hard to judge whether baby’s increased nursing is related to readiness for solids. Many (if not most) 6-month-old babies are teething, growth spurting and experiencing many developmental changes that can lead to increased nursing – sometimes all at once! Make sure you look at all the signs of solids readiness as a whole, because increased nursing alone is not likely to be an accurate guide to baby’s readiness.
    So that's the info on why you might want to delay solids. But afterall, it's a personal decision. I remember agonising over it with DD1. I started her at 5.5 months. She was more than ready. She showed all the signs mentioned above and I thought maybe coz she was 2 wks overdue that's why she was ready 2 wks earlier. Who knows. Anyway, she was definitely ready. We do BLS and they say don't expect them to actually ingest anything for the first couple of weeks. She ate from her first try, lol.

    You know what's best for your baby. All you can do is make an informed decision.

  11. #11
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jul 2006
    Cloud nine :D

    Heaven hit the nail on the head... As long as "you make an informed decision" it will be the best one for your child.

    Love MN ;-)

  12. #12
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Aug 2009

    I think it really depends on your child... my DS is a big boy, and at 4.5 months no amount of milk was satisfying him, so we started him on solids (his paed recommended this), we have never looked back. We've had no issues with allergies or illness at this point.

  13. #13
    BellyBelly Member

    Jul 2009

    The WHO recommends 6 months & I saw on the morning show the other morning they they're reviewing this. Apparently babies that have started solids earlier are less likely to develop allergies. I think it's a personal choice. We started early because dd wasn't gaining enough weight and she has really taken off now. She is still only on one meal a day at dinner time but I'm thinking of introducing a breaky as well. She was well and truly ready, would try and take food off our plates was chewing on everything and now she gets really grumpy if she doesn't get dinner on time. Like with everything we get told so many contradicting things when it comes to our children. If you've made an educated choice that you think is right for your bub then that's great

  14. #14
    BellyBelly Member

    Aug 2007

    its like the breastfeeding vs formula thing!

    You do what you think is best for your baby!

    If you think your baby is ready and bub is handling it fine than go for it! at the end of the day you are the mum and mum's (and dad's) know what is best for their own bubba's!

    (we started at 4.5mths)

  15. #15
    Registered User

    Mar 2009

    I guess the other side is, is it so bad to wait a bit longer? In regards to allergies I've also read a factor is whether the baby is still receiving breastmilk when introduced to potential allergenic foods so I felt comfortabe starting at 6 months knowing this would be the case and ensuring to expose her to them quite promptly when beginning. If I was starting early I would definitely at least be doing BLS so baby could have more control over what and how much they eat. You really just need to weigh up the pros and cons and decide what you are comfortable with.

  16. #16
    BellyBelly Member

    Jul 2006

    You know your baby & what is right for them. Some of my friends started early b/c their child was interested and has had no reactions to any sorts of foods. I think it is a bit based on the child themselves - who knows why 6 months is the 'magic' age - I think it is a guide and sounds to me that your DD is coping fine

  17. #17
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jan 2006

    I think Heaven's post gives a good rundown on the reasons 6 months is recommended. It's based on a lot of research. No doubt there are individual variations between children, but on average digestive systems will be mature enough by around 6 months. And we know breastmilk provides all babies need to this age so it's probably not unti around this age that they need other food.
    I think we all agree that it's up to parents to decide, but it's always helpful to have information when making decisions. Jellyfish also asks a very good question - is there any harm in waiting? I like to let my kids decide when they're ready. I am particularly motivated by my desire to delay disgusting solids-poos for as long as possible

  18. #18
    BellyBelly Member

    Mar 2007

    Wow, thanks everyone, some great comments and advice there. I can see the pros and cons for both sides. But over all I agree, really it does come down to what you think is best for your child.