Weaning is one of the most important phases in a child’s growth phase. It is the stage where you introduce your child to food for the first time. Ever since the child is born, they are fed mother’s milk only.
Weaning is a very slow process and does not happen overnight. It needs you to have patience and understanding. New mothers often have a tough time determining how to introduce their child to food and so on. In this article, we will be guiding you on how to start your child on solid food and all important points you must remember during the weaning phase.
Who is a weaning baby?
A weaning baby refers to a baby who will gradually be introduced to food and weaned away from breast milk. Apart from the mother’s milk, they will be introduced to other foods as well. Parents must know what foods they should give their children during the growth phase.
Weaning is the first time you will be introducing solid food to your child’s diet. It also refers to complementary feeding. Usually, the weaning process starts during the sixth month. By the sixth month, the baby gets all the necessary nutrients required for its growth from the mother’s milk. The mother’s milk provides them with sufficient nutrients that strengthens the immune system of the child and protects them from infection and illness.
Weaning is the first step towards the growth and development of children. It is one of the key features that determine your baby is now in the growing phase. If you are just starting to wean your baby, you need to ensure that they accept solid and liquid food.
What should you know about weaning?
If you are parents to newborn kids, it may be slightly difficult for you to determine what you should give to the weaning child. It is quite common to become nervous and anxious in such a stage. Well, here are some of the most important points that you must know about weaning.
1. What are the signs that your baby is ready to wean?
Until your child is six months, you must give only formula and breast milk to your children. Breastfeeding is a gradual process and so is weaning. Therefore, you need to keep a check on all the signs that determine your child is ready to wean.
Some of the common signs that indicate your child is ready to wean include:
- Holding the head upright
- Sitting independently with a back support
- Rolling over
- Sucking thumbs at night
- Hand-eye coordination movement
Your child will need to put in more effort for these actions. Therefore, it indicates that the energy of your child is increasing. Eventually, it also points that the appetite of the child is increasing.
Many babies may also experience a sudden increase in their appetite. This is mostly because of growth. However, if you notice any such situation, it does not mean that you should start the weaning process. Often the baby is likely to return to their normal state.
If the baby pushed food out of the mouth, it means that they aren’t ready to swallow. If you are new and do not understand the process, you must consider visiting a paediatrician. They will help you determine if the child is ready for weaning or not.
2. When does the baby start to wean?
According to health professionals, a baby is ready to wean by the age of four to six months. If you are starting solid food for your children, you must consider administering it. Usually, parents must start giving solid food to children at the age of six months.
At the age of six months, the children may need extra nutrients that they cannot find in milk. By this age, the children will need extra nutrients such as zinc and iron. However, during this age, you can provide small amounts of solid food. It is quite rare to start the use of solid food for babies before the age of four months.
You must strictly refrain from starting solid foods before the child is ready.
3. What should the first taste of the child be?
Once your baby is ready for the weaning process, you must also know what the first taste of the child should be. First tastes are extremely important as it helps to develop good eating habits in children.
In the beginning, your child is likely to get all the nutrients from baby formula or breastmilk only.
When you are introducing solid food to your children, you must know that the amount they eat is less important than what they eat. As parents you must consider introducing new foods to them.
When you are introducing solid food to your children, you must consider making it a positive experience for the children. Apart from feeding, you must also allow the children to touch the food. Since it is the first time your child will be trying new food, you must consider mixing it with some breastmilk. Let them touch and taste new foods.
When you mix the food with breastmilk, your child can enjoy the delicious taste. Moreover, it will be a new experience for the children. This will help to bring about more acceptance.
Some of the common types of foods that you should introduce to your newborn include:
- Soft and overcooked vegetables: Carrot, Sweet Potato, Butternut squash, pumpkin- puree or mashed.
- Cereals- oatmeal, millet and quinoa- cooked, mashed or puree.
- Soft fruit- banana, avocado, cooked apple, plums, raspberries.
You can start off by giving them the mashed food using a baby spoon.You should give them in small quantities in the initial stages. After a few weeks, they will ask fo more on their own.. You can introduce a new food to your child every day. Allow them to understand the taste and swallow the fruit with water so that they can make themselves familiar.
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4. Administer solid foods
After introducing soft foods, you should also introduce solid foods to your children. It is during the seventh or ninth month that you must introduce solid foods. You must consider providing these meals three times a day.
It is advisable that you keep a check on the texture of the food so that they can enjoy it. Make sure to know that your child is full. Given below are some of the solid foods that your child can try:
- Meat, poultry food
- Full-fat dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Gluten-containing foods
At the age of seven or nine months, the child will be ready to have three meals a day. Therefore, you can introduce these solid foods once or twice a day. At the age of eleven months, you can also introduce desserts for your children.
5. What food should you avoid?
Once your baby starts weaning, you must know what you should give them and what you should avoid. Some of the common foods that you must avoid in your children include the following:
- Undercooked eggs
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- Low-fat products
- Whole nuts
- Cow’s milk
- Junk food
Babies usually prefer sweet tastes. Therefore, when they are starting the weaning phase, you must keep a check on what the child is eating and what not. It is advisable that you provide them with a variety of foods. You must keep a check on what the child is eating and if there is any risk of food allergy. Start from four to six months and then you can keep a check on the progress as well. During the weaning phase, you must allow your children to make some mess so that they can become accepting.
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