Weaning is introduction of liquid or semisolid food to your child (other than breast milk) while gradually withdrawing breast milk.
When to start weaning
If your child was a full term baby, then weaning can be started as early as 4 months of age. The older recommendation was to start weaning after 6 months, but now you can start after 4 months of age.
If your baby is born prematurely, then you continue breast feeding till 6 months of age & then start weaning.
Importance of weaning
After 4 months of age, child requires other nutrients as well to grow which cannot be covered by breast milk. Ideally, one can breast feed their child till 2 years of age. But the earlier one starts weaning, it’s better. I have seen few parents who continue breast feeding even after 2 years of age & then the child lacks behind in the vital parameter’s like height, weight, cognition.
Type of weaning foods
Start weaning with liquid or soft diet as at 4 months of age, children usually don’t have teeth.
There are various weaning foods that mother can start as per her tradition or needs. Some common examples of weaning food are
- Rice daliya
- Vegetable soup
- Mashed potatoes
- Boiled apple after removing the skin
- Home made cerelac
How to start weaning
Always remember, start with 1 new food at a time & give in small proportions. See if your child is liking it & does not have any allergy. Do not start with 3 or 4 food items at a time as it might be difficult for a child to digest. Also, if the child gets allergy or side effects, then it will be difficult to know which food item is causing it. Mothers can continue to breast feed along with weaning food, no need to stop. Once the child starts liking the food, increase the proportions gradually so that breast milk can be withdrawn.
How to give food
Liquids can be given by vati chammach or with sipper bottles.
Semisolid food should be smashed properly & can be given directly or through spoons.
Make sure to remove skins from fruits which have it like apple, chikoo, kiwi, banana.
What to avoid
- Avoid giving food in large quantity.
- Avoid non veg items like egg, chicken until your child is 1 year of age.
- Avoid giving animal milk until your child is 1 year of age.
- Avoid using mobile, tablets, ipads while feeding.
- Avoid Cerelac as far as possible which is available in market. Instead one can make home made cerelac & give.
- Avoid sugars before 1 year of age. Instead use gud or jaggery.
- Avoid salt & spices or use to a bare minimum.
Weaning is very important for a child’s development. Weaning should be carried out properly in such a way that child gets accustomed to household food patterns. For more tips on how to inculcate healthy eating habits please refer our post