Pregnancy week by week

Baby

Toddler

Weaning

WHO recommends exclusive breast feeding for the first six months. After six months your baby needs more than milk alone to meet his nutritional requirements. Unless otherwise advised, solid foods in any form should not be started earlier than six months.

Before you know it, your baby will be ready for their first solid food, around the sixth month mark. Weaning is what you do when you move your baby away from a milk-only diet to a diet containing variety of solid foods. It involves introducing a range of foods to your baby till the time he starts eating the same food as the rest of the family. At first, introducing solids is about getting used to new tastes and textures. However, you should not force your baby unless he is ready to eat semi-solid or solid food. You need to be patient and try to do it gradually. You can tell your baby is ready for weaning when he:
  • Holds his head steady in a sitting position

  • Able to put the food in his mouth (he will push out the food if he is not ready)

  • Able to swallow (this happens around six months)

  • Shows an interest in your food

  • Want to chew and put toys and other objects in his mouth.

  • Shows signs of hunger before his usual feed time

  • Does not seem satisfied with the usual amount of milk and starts to demand more feeds.

  • Appears to be restless and starts to wake in the night, especially if he has learned to sleep through.

Why not to start early?


By about six months, most babies are ready to start on solid food. Before this, your baby is not ready for mixed feeding because:

  • Your baby’s digestive system is still developing. They cannot make all the right enzymes to digest foods

  • They have not yet developed enough co-ordination to cope with the foods put in their mouths, and can’t maintain the posture needed for swallowing

  • Their kidneys may not be mature enough to cope with anything more than milk

  •  If solid foods are introduced early, babies may be more at risk of developing allergies

  • The early introduction of foods may be linked to an increased risk of respiratory
    illness, coeliac disease, and wheezing in childhood

  • The early introduction of solid foods is associated with an increased percentage of body fat and may contribute to a child being overweight.

Remember
 
If your baby seems to be hungrier at any time before six months, they may be having a growth spurt, and an extra breast or formula milk (if you are not breast feeding) will be enough to meet their needs. However, babies who exhibit poor growth or iron deficiency anaemia may be weaned earlier, between 4 to 6 months. Also, babies born prematurely may be ready at different times. Ask your doctor for advice on what is best for your baby.

In the next few sections we guide you through the weaning process to ensure that your baby makes an easy transition to solid foods and gets all the nutrients they need to thrive.

Introduction to weaning

Getting into good habits


Common questions
 



 



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