HiPP Baby Club Aggressive Marketing

I signed up to HiPP Baby Club a while back to vote for a friend’s picture in a competition they were holding. When signing up, you’re asked to specify details of your children such as how you’re feeding them (I specified breastfed), their age, etc.

So, there’s me checking my e-mail first thing this morning to find an e-mail from the baby club titled “5 months old – Weaning special”. Now, Isabel has only just turned 5 months today. You’re not supposed to start weaning until at least 6 months (see NHS no rush to mush page). This is based on studies that show early weaning is damaging to the digestive health of babies. I’ve already made clear my thoughts on early weaning so I won’t go on about it, but I just couldn’t believe how bloody blatant this push to early wean was.

It wasn’t even subtle about it; there were several misleading lines, including:

6 months is the recommended age to begin (for development reasons you shouldn’t leave it any later than this), but some babies may be ready sooner.

and:

Signs to look for
Baby still seems hungry, even after more milk has been given
Showing an interest in your food
Putting toys and objects in their mouth
Able to sit up well with support

For starters, milk (either breast or artificial) is the only source of nutrition a baby needs for the first year of life; food is for fun, to explore tastes and textures. Even hungry babies don’t need early weaning because solid food contains less calories! Secondly, there is no “developmental” reason to delay solids, it is in fact recommended by many professionals to delay solids (more so if there’s a history of allergies). As for the signs to look for… total tosh! Isabel has been doing those things since under 3 months old, are they suggesting I should have weaned at 12 weeks?!

I tried to unsubscribe to the mail and the web page gave me an error, so I sent them a ranty response and smugly deleted their mail thinking it’d be the last I heard from them.

No such luck. The postie interrogated me at lunch time to give me a bright green cellophane-wrapped package. I could barely hide my excitement! ;) Mind you, it was short-lived. Lo and behold, yet more HiPP weaning crap. Free samples of follow-on and night time formula (don’t even get me started on this shit) and a sachet of baby rice. Nowhere on the accompanying letter was it mentioned that the recommendation is to wait until 6 months before weaning. In fact, the wording positively encourages you to start asap: “the perfect start”, “Babies love organic goodness” etc.

I can’t stand this sort of aggressive marketing, and rest assured that the whole lot went in the bin. I’ll start weaning Izz after 6 months, not before, and certainly not on to HiPP products!

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8 comments so far

  1. Mumblies said:
    On April 14, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Um… didn’t Izz start putting things in her mouth around 6-8 weeks? :O I supposed they would have wanted her on solids for a long long time then going by their standards! You carry on as you are Jem, she certainly does not look "starved" or ready for solids yet :o) As for "babies love organic goodness" utter twaddle! babies couldn’t give a shit where their veg comes from, it’s their parents that have preferences.

  2. Tess said:
    On April 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    It is actually recommended that you start weaning AFTER six months – my Mom did it, though her milk had dried up after I had become sick, and not because it was deliberate – but there’s nothing wrong with going longer than that. My Godmother fed both her children for up to a year, so there’s nothing wrong will postponing such a thing.

    As for trying to do it before six months – if you were breast feeding before then, why quit? :o

  3. Josh said:
    On April 14, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I made the horrible mistake of inadvertently singing up for a PETA mailing list once. It also included one or two other mailing lists about food stuff. It was a BAD IDEA. PETA wasn’t the problem. It was this other "Food and Water Watch" list. They would NOT stop sending me mail, despite unsubscribing. I just kept spamming them, until Gmail got the idea.

  4. Amelie said:
    On April 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    ^ Oh, I’ve had the same but from PETA directly. They send stuff to my house and to my email, despite the fact that I NEVER signed up with them and have unsubscribed so many times I’ve lost count. Now I just mark their emails as spam put their stuff back in the post with "return to sender" on it. ARGH though.

  5. Julie said:
    On April 15, 2010 at 4:07 am

    I find it funny that they basically tell you that you MUST use some sort of formula when you do start weaning. You can’t, you know, just use food. That would be totally weird.

  6. Veronica said:
    On April 15, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Oh wow… I would have expected another few emails, but an actual package. That’s taking it a bit beyond aggressive!

  7. Mallory said:
    On April 18, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Oh my Lord.

    I find it absolutely disgusting the way they’re so obsessed with making a quick buck or two … And at the expense of children’s health, no less! And yet, ironically, they’re claiming to be all for the health of wee babes.

    Disgusting.

    But sadly not surprising. :(

  8. Matthew said:
    On April 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Good for you! However YOU are not the target market here. The target market are the thousands of mothers who receive these mails and think that they are an authority source of information, then follow their advice.

    I have 5 children, 4 breast fed and 1 bottle due to complications, of the 4 they all breast fed for 2 years and some up to 2.5 years. We were of course feeding them also and we do not subscribe to the mush route, a soggy chip to suck on, pasta, and they have all LOVED mushrooms! Anything off the plate basically.

    The breast is there for comfort as much as anything else and hell, being woken up at 4am by a baby wanting "a boobie" is much better than getting up, getting a bottle, rocking them, soothing them, and then crawling back to bed at 5am only to be woken up again at 6!

    Good on yeah for tossing it all in the bin but the many people who fall for this crap is the worry. Surely false advertising is an issue here?

    Matt