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Introduction to weaning


                                                                     
Introducing a good variety of healthy foods from the start will help lay the foundations for healthy growth and development. Eating with the family and sharing the same foods will help your baby learn valuable social skills too. You will find that as your baby eats more solid foods, the amount of milk they want will start to reduce. Once your baby is eating plenty of solids several times a day, you may find that they take less milk at each feed or even drop a milk feed altogether.


                                              Getting started

Your baby has been used to having nothing other than milk for all these months, so first foods may seem a very strange experience. You will need to give him time to get used to the idea. To start with, choose a time of day when your baby is active; babies are more interested in new things when they are alert rather than when they are tired. Also:

  • Choose a time when your baby is not very hungry because he will want and expect milk. But don’t wait till he’s finished his feed, either, because then he won’t be interested. Half way through a milk feed may be a good time

  • Hold your baby upright on your lap so he can swallow easily.

  • Offer the food on a small plastic spoon, or on the end of your clean finger.

  • Food should be only slightly thicker than the milk so that it is easier for your baby to swallow (remember, he is only used to swallowing milk!)

  • Let your baby set the pace. If he rejects the food, try weaning again later.

It is best to start with a thin, smooth puree that is easy to swallow. Baby rice is a good option as the first food. It can be prepared with cooled boiled water, formula milk, or expressed breast milk. You will only need very small amounts to begin with. Once your baby has got used to the idea of solid food you can add vegetable and fruit purees. Lightly steam the vegetables or fruits and make a smooth puree with the help of a hand blender. Make sure the texture is smooth and there are no lumps. Vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes can be pureed and given. For fruit puree, try fresh pear, cooked plums, or ripe banana, which just needs some mashing with some milk and then sieving. You can also give coconut water, daal ka pani, or vegetable stock (water in which vegetables are cooked)

It is best to introduce one food at a time as it makes it easier to identify any food intolerance. Offer only a small amount, about one tea spoon and gradually increase the quantity over the next few meals. If your baby likes the food, stick to it for four or five days and then introduce a new dish. Avoid adding sugar and salt as babies have not yet acquired the taste for seasoned food. Moreover, his kidney may be stressed by an additional sodium load. 

First foods should be smooth purees but as your baby gets older, increase the variety of foods you offer and gradually thicken the food by mashing instead of pureeing it. When he is eating a range of foods, you can offer him mixed flavours. At this stage, how much your baby takes is less important than getting him used to the idea of eating.


How will I know when my baby has had enough?

Most babies know when they have had enough to eat, so don’t try and persuade your baby to take more food than they want. Babies are telling you they have had enough when they:
  • Turn their head away.

  • Keep their mouth shut

  • Push the bowl or plate away

  • Scream or shout

  • Keep spitting food out, and/or

  • Hold food in their mouth and refuse to swallow it

It doesn’t matter how much they eat; the important thing is to get them to try lots of different foods. Give your baby plenty of attention, chat and enjoy meals together, and don’t pressure them when they refuse food. “Go at your baby’s pace”.

                                            
                                          Finger foods

                     

From seven months onwards, your baby should be able to eat finger foods. This means food that is big enough to be held in his hand and stick out the top of his fist. Foods cut into pieces that are adult finger sized work well. Some options are:
  • Banana chunks, bread stick, chapatti stick

  • Cooked pasta, cubed/grated cheese

  • Cooked apple, peach, melon or ripe pear

  • Chunk of boiled potato, sweet potato, cooked green beans

  • Chopped hard boiled eggs

Foods to avoid when starting weaning

Some foods are more likely to cause problems than others, so avoid them until weaning is well established and your baby is used to other solid foods:

  • Wheat based foods which may contain gluten

  • Breakfast cereals which may contain gluten

  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons and limes)

  • Fish and shellfish

  • Eggs

  • Limit foods that are high in salt e.g. cheese

                              Some useful tips for weaning

  • Try giving a wide range of foods and textures to taste

  • Don’t force your baby to eat, try again after a week if your baby refuses a certain food.

  • You can introduce boiled water when you start weaning

  • Never leave your baby unattended while feeding so that your baby does not choke.

  • If you are bottle feeding, don’t add any cereal or sugar to the bottle.

  • Encourage your baby to feed himself, using his fingers. You can also encourage him to chew by giving him finger foods

  • Your baby should be sitting up straight in your lap or preferably in a high chair. Invest in a good high chair so your baby can join you at the dinner table.

  • Be ready for the mess; use bibs

  • Don’t add salt or sugar to food for your baby

  • Be patient, as it may take some time for your baby to get the idea of moving food to the back of his mouth and then swallow it. Go at your baby’s pace.

  • Avoid giving your baby too much sweet as this will get him into a habit of expecting too much sweet.

  • Avoid giving eggs or non-vegetarian food until the weaning is well established.

  • Avoid adding fats such as butter or oil, unless weaning is well established or if advised by your doctor.
 
                                      Introducing cups

It is a good idea to introduce a cup rather than a bottle from about six months onwards. If your baby is bottle feeding, it can be hard to break the habit. Therefore, introduce a cup from six months and aim to have your baby off the bottle by their first birthday. Use a free flow cup to help your baby learn to sip rather than suck. Start by offering sips of water from the cup in between meals. Remember to dilute one part juice to ten parts water. Comfort sucking on sweetened drinks is the major cause of painful tooth decay in young children. So if you use a bottle or trainer cup, it is best not to put anything in it other than formula or breast milk or water.


                                 Baby weaning essentials
                                            
                                                  
  • Bowls and plates: you will need something that is unbreakable and microwave safe.
     
  • Spoons: you will need small, plastic, flexible spoons with a long handle and a soft tip. You will need several.

  • Get a trainer cup: choose a cup with two handles and a very soft spout to start with.

  • Bibs : you will be needing plenty of bigger bibs

  • High chair

                                     Between 7-9 months

As baby gets older, he will be ready for foods of different textures and tastes. Your baby’s food need not be in a milky consistency anymore. You can now prepare coarse minces instead of purees. Gradually milk should no longer remain the only source of nourishment. Since the acceptance of foods is important at this point, it is necessary to give the food first followed by the milk feed. Here are few ideas of what to offer:
  • Coarser minces or purees of vegetable, pulses, chicken, fish.
     
  • Then mashed or lumpy food, for instance, dalia, khichri, mashed dal & rice, suji halwa, upma, cereals, pasta, bread. Give two to three servings a day.

  • Introduce cooled boiled water in a cup or a sipper.

  • Fruit juice if given, should in diluted to 1 part juice to 10 parts of cooled boiled water and given in a cup.

  • Milk products such as yoghurt, cheese, custard, semolina, kheer.

  • Finger foods such as cubed or grated cheese, bread stick, chapatti, pasta, chopped hard boiled eggs, boiled vegetables like carrot, potato, beans, raw soft fruit like banana, ripe pear, cooked apple.

  • Continue with breast feeding or give 500-600 ml of infant formula.

                                        Nine months and over

Foods need not be blended any more. By now, your baby can fit in with the family by eating three mashed or chopped meals a day as well as milk. Your baby is the best guide to how much solid food you need to give. Aim to go from offering solid food once a day to providing it at two and then three feeds. Offering different foods at each of the three meals will give your baby more variety and will help them to get used to different tastes. Giving them a wide variety of foods that you and your family usually eat will help reduce the risk of them being fussy about what they eat later on.

Babies have small tummies and they need energy and vitamins for growth, so make sure you give them full-fat dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese. Babies and children should not eat many foods containing fat and sugar, like biscuits, cakes, puddings, ice cream, fats and oils. It’s okay to give your child chocolate and sweets occasionally. If you do, it’s best to give them at the end of a meal, which helps to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

You can offer your baby:
  • Three to four servings of starchy food, such as potato, bread, chapatti, and rice each day
     
  • Three to four servings of fruit and vegetables each day (the vitamin C in fruit and vegetables, will help your baby absorb iron, so always give them with other foods), and

  • Two servings of meat, fish, eggs, dhal or other pulses each day. If you have decided not to give your baby meat or fish, they will need two servings a day of protein-rich foods, like pulses, tofu, cheese, or eggs.

Age                          Foods to offer
Start with
Baby rice, smooth purees of vegetables and fruits
Between 7-9 months
  • Coarser minces or purees of vegetable, pulses, chicken, fish.
     
  • Then mashed or lumpy food, for instance,  dalia, kheer, khichri, dal & rice, suji halwa, upma, cereals, pasta, bread. Give two to three servings a day.
     
  • Introduce cooled boiled water in a cup or a sipper.
     
  • Fruit juice if given, should in diluted to 1 part juice to 10 parts of cooled boiled water and given in a cup.
     
  • Milk products such as yoghurt, cheese, custard, semolina, kheer.
     
  • Finger foods such as cubed or grated cheese, bread stick, chapatti, pasta, chopped hard boiled eggs, boiled vegetables like carrot, potato, beans, raw soft fruit like banana, ripe pear, cooked apple, mashed grapes.
     
  • Continue with breast feeding or give 500-600 ml of infant formula.
Between 10-12 months
  • Mashed family food
     
  • Three to four servings of starchy foods, such as mashed rice/dhal, khicihri, bread, chapatti, potato, or noodles/pasta each day
     
  • Two servings of mashed meat/chicken/fish, or eggs, dhal or other pulses each day.
     
  • One or two servings of milk products, such as cheese, yoghurt
     
  • Three to four servings of fruit and vegetables each day
     
  • Continue with breast milk and 500-600 ml of formula milk.
     
  • Cooled boiled water in a cup with meals.
     
  • Fruit juice diluted to 1 part to 10 parts of cooled boiled water given in a cup.
1 year onwards
Family meals. Avoid adding salt. Chop the food to bite size if needed.

 

 

 



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