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No solid answers on baby food

Published: 6:56PM Sunday January 16, 2011 Source: ONE News

A team of child health experts in Britain is challenging official advice in a report that suggests parents should start feeding their children solid food before they are six months old.
The report, which has been published in the British Medical Journal and brings together a growing amount of world research, calls for a review of official health regulations regarding baby feeding.

It suggests introducing solids before six months could lower the risk of allergies and anaemia.

But some parents are confused by the new information.

Erin Parkyn said parents know best when it comes to their own children.

"I think any information overload can be confusing.

Nobody knows better than parents themselves," she said.

Plunket welcomed the call for research into the best form of nutrition for children but continues to recommend parents introduce solid food at around six months.

Other experts agree parents should look for signs their baby is ready to eat solid food.

Isobel Fanshawe from the La Leche League, which promotes breastfeeding, said babies will show signs when they are ready for solids.

"Babies are developmentally ready around six months, watching your babies cues are a better indication of when to introduce solids.

La Leche League director Alison Stanton told TVNZ News at 8 that the report is based on a selected group of studies by the authors and is not new.

Stanton said the League still recommends mothers watch for cues in their babies for their readiness for solids around the middle of their first year.

Mothers are always looking to do what is right, Stanton said, adding that breastfeeding has been researched very thoroughly. She said there is no basis for claiming introducing solids at an earlier age reduces allergies in infants.

Many mothers the League sees are trying to avoid allergies by breastfeeding and Stanton said stories in the media may be hyping up the issue and could cause confusion.

Unicef, WHO and other significant organisations are reinforcing current recommendations of exclusive breast feeding until six months, Stanton said.