Weaning Made Easy
Blog Submitted by Akansha Patwari
Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash
Weaning is a process where you gradually introduce solids to the baby and make them comfortable with the adult human food. Ever since birth a baby is only accustomed with mother’s milk or bottled substitute, which is liquid form of food with the same taste and flavour. Hence we need to familiarize the child with this whole concept of semi- solid and solid food with a variety of taste and flavours.
The Right Age to start Weaning
There is no particular right age to start weaning, anywhere between 6 to 12 months is considered age appropriate to start the process. Some children adapts to it quickly while others take time. There are certain signs which one should look for before starting the process:
Good Head Control: The baby should be able to move his/her head from left to right and hold it upright. This is very important as the baby needs to swallow the food. It would be an added bonus if the baby could sit upright, but even if the baby is able to sit with back support its acceptable.
Curious about Food: The baby would start getting curious about your food. He/she will start observing what you are eating or drinking and show an interest in it. They will avidly watch you eat and try to immitate you.
Increased Hunger: If the baby is hungry even after his/her usual milk feed, then it is a clear sign that the baby is ready for solids. Milk alone is not enough for the baby and she/he want to get into the world of solid food.
Loose Tongue Thrusting Movement: The babies have a habit of thrusting their tongues out of their mouth at all times. This is a natural way design to push out everything except milk from their mouth. Babies who are not ready will push the food out of their mouth. The time when the baby looses this tongue thrust is a sign that the baby is ready for solids.
Increased weight: Last but not the least it is important to check the baby’s weight. If the baby is doubled of its birth weight then its a sign that the baby is well nourished and growing up and that milk alone will not be able to provide him/her with the nutrition his/her body is demanding, hence solids will be needed to be substituted along with milk.
Stages of Weaning
Weaning process can be identified in three stages in which the baby is weaned from liquid to solid diet.
Stage 1….Weaning at 6months and up: Stage 1 begins at six months when the child is introduced to mashed food of different taste and flavour from milk. Start with foods of runny texture like mashed fruits or purees. Focus on small portion of food once a day. Choose a time when the baby is most hungry. Allow the baby to touch the food with their hands to get the feel of its texture and smell. Do not hurry the baby. Keep Patience. Do not force feed, but try to indulge the child. Try turning it into a happy play time which the child can look forward to. Start with food that are sweet in flavour like mashed banana, avocado, pureed apple, pear, carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, dal ka pani ( do not give proper dal as it will difficult for the baby to digest). Do not give sugar and salt to babies till they turn one. See how the baby adapts to the food and accordingly start increasing the frequency of solid food to twice or thrice a day. Keep in mind never to introduce more than one food at a time. Keep an eye for signs of allergy or irregular bowel movement when introducing new food. Steaming the food is a healthy option than pressure cooking.
Stage 2…..7-9 months and up: By this time the baby will get used to the idea of solid food. Increase the quantity of food as per your baby’s hunger. For example 1 tbsp of fruit or veg puree gradually increase it to 4 tbsp or 2 tbsp of cereal can be increased to half cup. The texture of the food may be slowly changed from runny to a thicker consistency. More flavours and more variety of food may be introduced like chikko, papaya, oranges, plums, peaches, barley, dalia, rice porridge, peas, bottle gourd, brocolli, yoghurt, ghee etc. One can also make meals by combining two foods together like apple & pear, rice & apple, oats & banana, carrot & potato, apple & banana, dalia & banana etc. Try different combinations and figure out which your baby likes.
Stage 3….10-12 months and up: This is the stage when the baby is completely familiar with the whole eating solid process. Slowly try to change the baby food from semi solid to solid. Start by chopping the fruits very small in size, and coax the baby in trying to eat it. Initially they will resist and spit up but with regular coaxing they will eventually start chewing. Teaching to chew is a tedious process and will take time. Keep patience. Try giving half the meal in semi-solid and other half in solid form. This way they will not tire of chewing. All kinds of food forms can be introduced now excluding non- veg, which is advisable to be given only after 1 yr.
Akansha Patwari - The author is a Video Editor by profession, a working mother and a passionate writer. A masters degree holder in Films and Video Editing with an honours degree in English is sharing her journey of motherhood through the eyes of modern parenthood keeping her mind open to traditional ways.