Before we start off, we need to understand the exact definition of weaning. Depending upon the place you live, its meaning tends to vary considerably. Say in the United States it means stopping breast milk completely, but when you are in the United Kingdom it means to add solid supplements to the diet of a baby. Here we will stick to the situation of offering foods apart from milk.
As per WHO recommendation, you need to start weaning your baby off breast milk after six months. This is the time around which a child’s developmental necessities start demanding more nutrition than provided by breast milk. It needs more nutrients to support various physical and mental developmental processes. So, this is the time you should start giving semi solid foods to your child. However, the same theory may not apply to pre-mature babies. Such babies may have somewhat underdeveloped digestive and immune system compared to full term babies. Therefore, such babies may not grow the ability to digest semi solid foods at six months of age. If your baby is premature, don’t rush in to wean it off mother’s milk. Talk to the doctor, observe the baby for certain signs and then start giving semi solid foods. A premature baby may suffer from various symptoms of food allergy like asthma if it is given weaning foods at 6 months.
Your baby will show signs
There are indications when your baby is ready to take weaning foods along with breast milk. Around this time an infant becomes able to sit and hold its head tight. It also exhibits an inclination for chewing things.It is generally drawn to foods that other people may be eating. This is the time that your baby’s nutritional requirements for its rapid physical and mental development have started outgrowing the nutrition supplied by mother’s milk.It is also around this time that mother’s breast milk output starts decreasing. So, the baby needs something extra. It needs weaning foods.
What kind of foods are good weaning foods
Weaning foods must be veggies and fruits that are easy to digest, rich in nutrients and have appreciable calorific value. Potato, carrot, apple, banana, and some other fruits and vegetables along with lentils and powdered rice, khichiri, etc. can be good weaning foods. You need to wash these very well, preferably in hot water, and then boil. Mash the vegetable or fruit, let it cool and then try to feed the baby with a spoon without any salt or sugar.You can introduce mashed egg after around one year, but it needs to be hard boiled.
As you start weaning foods you need to be patient. The child may not like the taste and throw up the food. You need to try time and again until the baby starts accepting the weaning foods. At this stage the baby starts accepting family food and your experimentation with its food begins.
Benefits of weaning foods
Some people are of the opinion that it is a healthy option of adding solid foods to the diet of a baby. In addition to this, when babies are forced to eat themselves, in a natural manner they are drawn to foods which contain the essential nutrients in them. When parents tend to interfere in this process by feeding children, nutritional deficiencies can occur.