Formula on the other hand is not poison. It has saved the lives of babies where their mothers couldn’t or wouldn’t nurse them. But, whilst good for babies, it isn’t quite the same as breastmilk. Its similar, it does lots of good things but it isn’t exactly the same as mother’s milk.
None of that should be up for debate today.
Reading the press you’d be forgiven from believing that breast is not best (thank you to The Sun for that), that breastfeeding for six months may increase anaemia in babies (more on that later), that weaning at six months could raise the risk of your child developing allergies.
Liking to do my research I have found out a few things that might interest you, that might show just how warped the reporting around this subject is.
- Three of the authors of the paper receive funding from the baby food industry – they are Mary Fewtrell, Alan Lucas and David Wilson.
- This is not a report on new data – it is an observation of old studies and is reopening the debt and suggesting further investigation is required.
- The report states that the evidence for breastfeeding is extensive and whether to breastfeed or not is not up for discussion.
- Its main conclusion is to call for more research because it is not clear cut as to the evidence about whether we should introduce solids at 4 months or 6 months.
- Its not over turning current guidelines which focus on not before 4 months (which nobody is disputing, nobody is now saying very early weaning is a good idea) but instead continuing to say that different children are ready at different times and perhaps more research needs to be done.
- Its says that we definitely know that before 4 months is a bad thing but now adds that it might be a good idea to start by six months and when babies are showing signs of readiness.
Perhaps the papers could have gone on about recognising the genuine signs of readiness rather than just waking more / looking at food / chewing.
Perhaps some of these journalists should have bothered to read the article itself and perhaps checked what it said before leaping in the deep end.
Perhaps they should have resisted the urge to pour oil onto the bonfire of the war they imagine occurs around how we feed our children.
Perhaps they could have researched around different weaning styles and how they can be tailored to your child.
Perhaps they could have considered that this wasn’t an opportunity to take a pop at breastfeeding and those who breastfeed.
But they didn’t.
Responsible reporting at its best.
And meant I had a fun moment with my mother in law where she had a little go about it no longer being a good idea to exclusively breastfeed for six months… I may have got a touch heated and started quoting research papers at her… Ooops
Oh and can I just deal with the iron thing which is a particularly irritant of mine. And probably the reason my friend and I set up our breastfeeding support group because we were sick of the local health visitors giving out misleading information.
Research suggests that a healthy, full term baby has enough iron to last between 6 and 12 months.
Breastmilk has a different, more easily absorbed type of iron in it compared to solid food or formula. All of this anaemia stuff fails to focus on the fact you aren’t comparing like with like and that there is no evidence to support it.