A new initiative to improve the introduction of solid food into babies’ diets at six months has been launched by the Department of Health and Social Care.
The campaign will promote NHS advice on weaning and tackle confusion around how to introduce solid foods. The official NHS guidance recommends solid foods should be gradually introduced from around 6 months – alongside breast milk or infant formula.
The introduction of solid foods or infant formula before 6 months can reduce the amount of breast milk consumed and is associated with greater risks of infectious illness in infants. Giving solid foods to breastfed infants before 6 months may also reduce breast milk intake without increasing total energy intake or increasing weight gain.
‘The first 1,001 days are crucial for development and impact a child’s health for the rest of their life,’ said Health Minister Maria Caulfield.
‘Every child should have a solid foundation on which to build their health and I am determined to level up the opportunities and support for all children, no matter their background or where they grow up. This campaign will ensure parents have the support and confidence to introduce their babies to solid food and ensure they have the opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential.’
The campaign comes as new research found 40% of first-time mums introduced solid food by the time their baby is 5 months old, earlier than the NHS recommendation of around 6 months, and almost two-thirds (64%) say they have received conflicting advice on what age to start weaning.
‘I know lots of parents may feel nervous and overwhelmed at the thought of introducing their baby to solid foods, but this research just goes to show you’re not alone,’ said Charlotte Stirling Reed, Registered Nutritionist, Association for Nutrition.
‘The Start for Life weaning hub is a great tool to make parents feel confident about how to wean their baby. It’s so important to teach little ones about food in a fun and relaxed manner as we want them to grow up enjoying mealtimes, so the weaning hub is designed to help parents enjoy this milestone by having lots of helpful advice all in one place.’