I’m sure that most of you have been reading recently about the new findings and research on when to wean your children. If not, it goes something like this: Previously, we were told that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and then weaned after that. Now, we’re being told that exclusive breastfeeding for that long could cause food intolerance and iron deficiency in later life, and that babies should be weaned at around four months.

My question is this: When did parents give up on their own instincts and start blindly following so-called ‘expert’ advice?

When Sausage was born, I didn’t breastfeed and in an effort to not repeat myself, you can read about that here. She was formula fed from birth and took her feeds brilliantly. She had her first solids at about three and a half months (I can almost hear the Mummy Militia’s audible *gasp* from here!), but we gave her solids because we KNEW she was ready. Don’t get me wrong, we had our own set of standards. She was never given baby rice as it’s basically just a bulking agent with no nutritional value and can cause gluten intolerance. Nor did we give her any meat, not because we had machinations of raising a veggie child (though there’s nothing wrong with that), but it just seemed unnecessary. She was given pureed fruit and vegetables, alongside her regular feeds, and she flourished!

These days, as I’ve mentioned before, Sausage eats brilliantly. She’ll try almost anything and would choose fruit over sweets or chocolate 99% of the time. Only the other day, she got cross when I told her that she’d have to wait until dinner to have her garlic stuffed olives. Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t eat olives when I was a toddler.

As I said, the biggest conundrum for me is working out when parents stopped listening to their own instincts. I wonder if our grandparents, or great-grandparents had to check with their Doctor about when to wean their child? Or if the people in third-world countries wait for the green light from their health visitor before starting their child on solids? Sounds ridiculous when you put it like that, doesn’t it?

I’m not saying my way is the right way, I’m saying that if you let yourself you’ll realise that you, the parents, are actually the ONLY people who are in tune with your child, and you WILL know when the time is right. In the same way that we know when they’re hungry, tired, wet or gassy, we know when they need more than just their milk. It’s instinctive. It may not be that you’ll know right away, but with Sausage, it just seemed as though her feeds weren’t satisfying her anymore and the natural progression was to try her on solids.

I think also, parents are afraid to try. With Sausage, we tried her on solids and she took to them right away. But if we’d tried, and failed to gain any interest from her, what would we have lost? Nothing, we’d have gone back to exclusive milk feeding and tried again later. But I think many parents feel like once you take the ‘next step’ with any area of parenting, there’s no going back. If a previously dry child started to wet themselves again, we wouldn’t think twice about taking a step back, letting them wear a nappy and redressing the potty training. Same principle really, there’s no harm in trying, and there’s no shame in going back a step.

I don’t claim to be some sort of mothering guru, I tend to feel as if I’m still muddling through most days, but I do pride myself of having a certain amount of common sense when it comes to parenting, and it’s got me this far! I just urge all new parents, listen to your baby, they will let you know what they need, and hopefully your parenting instincts will do the rest.