Objective: To investigate weaning practices of children aged 0-2 years in Melbourne's western metropolitan region (WMR).
Methodology: The study group comprised children aged 0-2 years attending six maternal and child health centres in the City of Brimbank in Melbourne's WMR. One hundred and nineteen parents were asked to complete a questionnaire about their child. Interpreters were used as required. In total, 115 questionnaires were completed representing a response rate of 97%. All maternal and child health nurses working in the target region were asked to complete a questionnaire. Of these, five were selected randomly to participate in follow-up indepth interviews. Weaning was defined as the addition of food/fluids other than breast milk or formula.
Results: The mean age for the introduction of solids was 4.3 months. Of the children already introduced to solids, 67% had commenced between 4 and 6 months whilst 29% of the infants were taking solids by 3 months of age. Of the children already having juice, 85% had done so by the age of 6 months. The mean age for the introduction of cow's milk as the main drink was 10.7 months (S.D. 2.8). For English speaking families the mean age was 11.3 months (S.D. 1.8) whilst for families speaking languages other than English the mean age was 9.7 months (S.D. 4.1).
Conclusions: Most parents in this group were following the recommended guidelines for weaning. Some parents had poor knowledge of appropriate weaning time, use of fruit juice and introduction of cow's milk as the main drink. Additional information and education is required in these areas. Further investigation is required in relation to use of cow's milk and ethnicity.