Friday, 14 January 2011

Advice to ignore...

Today's 'news' that babies should be given solids before 6 months is hardly the earth-shattering announcement it is being hailed as being.

I have lost count of how many times the supposed 'official' advice has changed about what pregnant women should and shouldn't eat and drink, and how babies should be fed. All the conflicting advice does is confuse women and worry them that they are doing something wrong.

Take the advice about eating peanuts. When I was pregnant in 2006, pregnant women weren't allowed to look at a picture of a peanut lest it meant their offspring were born with two heads and with a tendency to vote Tory. Or something. Now it's the law that every pregnant woman eats lots of peanuts to ensure her baby doesn't have a peanut allergy and I'm sure peanuts would be provided on the NHS if there was any money left. (Unless the advice has changed again. It probably has. But that rather proves my point).

As for baby-rearing advice, there's a new fad along every five minutes. Being part of the Keep Haringey Breastfeeding Campaign, I am in contact with lots of mums and babies. I've learnt about 'Elimination Communication' (that's making little noises and holding the baby over a potty - reusable nappies are SO three years ago, apparently). Then there's baby-led weaning: present thy sprog with a veritable smorgasbord of edible delights, and then sit back and see what they opt for. They reached for a Silk Cut? Then light it for them - baby knows best!

And what about 'Sling Meets'. "What's a sling meet when it's at home?" asked I, clueless. "Do you go to the park and chuck steaks about?" (I appreciate that gem of a joke is best told orally). Nope - the mums meet up to chat and adjust each other's baby slings - pushchairs are verboten.

So...what do we learn from all this? Not to get too wound up or take too much notice to the latest advice, I reckon. My French ante-natal teacher summed things up perfectly: talking about the diet advice and the long list of 'banned' foods for pregnant women, she commented (imagine French accent, please) "Do you think French women don't eat unpasteurised cheese for nine months? Please. The French economy would collapse!"

Perhaps every fad, headline-grabbing finding and new piece of advice should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt...although certainly not more than 6g a day (probably changing to 4g next week).

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