Most of the leading international organizations like World health organization, American academy of pediatrics recommend exclusive breast feeding upto 6 months of age. No outside food, juice even water needs to be given. Weaning is a process in which semi solid food is gradually added in baby's diet along with breast feeding. A baby is called fully weaned when completely off breastfeeding. After 6 months only breast feeding is not enough for nutrition so adding other foods is necessary. If not done timely it can lead to malnutrition Weaning is a very important phase in a baby's life. Moms face many challenges and confusions during weaning. New moms may become very vulnerable and overwhelmed about making right choices for her baby. But rest assured no one cares for your baby as you do. And no one knows her better than you.
I had been there and faced similar challenges. I am sharing a few things that worked for me and my baby. It is always trial and error. Find your own way...Mommy and baby!!!!
Continue breast feeding. It is still a prime source of nutrition for your baby. Solid food is just a supplement. Continue formula feeding when breastfeeding not possible. Breastfeeding can be continued as long as you and baby wish to.
Try to practice family pot feeding. Try to make baby food from what family eats like rice, dal etc. Its cheap and baby will get used to routine foods. Canned foods have no advantage over home foods.
Introduce one food at a time. Follow 3 day rule. Give same food for 3 days to rule out allergies. Add new foods in daytime, so any problems can be dealt with.
Rice and Ragi are the best first foods. Very initially replace one breastfeeding with preparation closer to consistency of liquid like mashed semiliquid rice, ragi porridge, mung dal etc. Increase consistency and quantity gradually. Continuing to give in liquid form is not good. Some mothers wrongly give only dal ka pani or rice water which is not useful. It can lead to malnutrition. Give mashed dal and rice in water.
Drop one breastfeeding weekly. Start with lunch times. Give demand feeding at other times..Give it with spoon. Avoid bottle. Try to feed solids in upright position. Give good mashed food initially to avoid choking hazard. Initially give single foods and avoid mixing.
Best time to give new food. When baby is happy , playful not extremely hungry or cranky. Let baby choose the amount she wants to eat. At two years she can eat half the amount of food than her mom. Avoid force feeding. Try another food if baby not happy with one. Make meal times pleasant.
Add ghee, oil, spices like cardamom after 7 -8
months. Use small amount of jaggery initially to sweeten the porridges. No animal milk for one year. Yogurt cheese can be given after 6 months. Later to increase nutritive value you can mix cereals with pulses and add oil, ghee, fat or sugar, jaggery.
Give full attention to hygiene while preparing baby food. Proper cleaning of utensils, bottles etc. No stale foods. When baby is sick she may not eat the same as previously. Encourage to have more fluids and foods she likes.
Try to feed baby when whole family is eating together. Let them see how and what everyone is eating. It also stresses the importance of family time.
It is best to wait for 6 months before introducing solid foods to the baby. Situations in which early weaning may be required like mom wants to return to work, it may be started at 4-5 months after consulting your doctor and baby readiness.
What are the signs that your baby is ready for solids? Baby can sit upright, shows interest in what you eat, gulps food down , ready to chew a little. Different foods you can give after 6 months, just for your reference. Cereals - Rice, Ragi, Suji, Oats, Dalia Pulses - Mung dal, Masoor dal, Arhar dal, beans Fruits - Banana, apple, mango, pear, guava, papaya Vegetables - Sweet potato, Cauliflower, bottle gourd, carrot, tomato, broccoli, spinach, green peas
Dairy - curd, buttermilk, cheese. Non veg - Egg after 7-8 months, fish after checking for allergies, chicken after 9-10 months.
Breastfeeding gives a feeling of utmost closeness with your baby. It is comforting for the baby too. So it's difficult for a mom to let go of that closeness. But if done gradually this transition may be easier.
Offer lots of affection, hugs, kissing , cuddling to your baby. Play and spend time with your baby. Don't let her feel that closeness is lost with weaning. And never forget... Happy Mamma..means a happy Baby and a happy Family !!!! Disclaimer - these are the views of a qualified doctor and author. These are general suggestions and do not replace actual check up by a doctor. Any resemblance to anybody is coincidental.
Author information - Dr Harita N Kothia, Obstetrician and gynecologist, Mumbai