What is weaning?
Weaning means introducing a range of foods gradually until your baby is eating the same foods as the rest of your family. Until six months, your baby needs only breast milk or infant formula milk. As your baby becomes 6 months old, the baby would also need solid food portions apart from breast milk. This is the time to put something more for your little one on the table.
When to start weaning?
World Health Organization recommends weaning at 6 months of age. Before this time, your baby’s gut may be immature and weaning can lead to infections and allergies. It is normal for babies aged three to five months to wake up in the night when they have previously slept through. It is not necessarily a sign of hunger and starting solids will not make your baby more likely to sleep through the night again. If your baby seems hungry it may be due to growth spurt and offering extra breast milk or formula milk enough to meet their needs.
How to start?
Start by offering a small amount of mashed vegetable, fruit or cereal mixed with milk, after a milk feed or in the middle of one, if this works better. If the food is hot, allow it to cool, stir it and test it before giving it to your baby. Use mashed-up family food when you can. It’s best to cook your own food for your baby. This way, you’ll know the ingredients of the food and you’ll make your baby get used to eat what you eat. Don’t add salt or sugar to food for your baby.
- Start by offering just a few teaspoons of food, once a day.
- Use a little of your baby’s usual milk (breast or formula) to mix the food to the desired consistency.
- Give your baby a range of foods and textures to taste.
- Let your baby touch the food in the dish or on the spoon.
First, you could try
- Cereals such as baby rice mixed with milk
- Mashed cooked vegetables such as potato, sweet potato or carrot
- Mashed banana, ripe mango, ripe papaya, cooked apple or pear
Once your baby is used to eating vegetables and fruit you should add other foods, such as:
- Puréed or mashed-up meat, fish and chicken
- Mashed rice, noodles or pasta
- Lentils (dhal) or pulses
- Full-fat dairy products, such as yoghurt, custard
Please note that weaning should not be misunderstood to reducing breast feeding which in any case should be continued frequently till 2 years of age.