As the calendar strikes 6 months, mothers invariably get very excited as that age is considered to be the perfect time for weaning foods. Weaning is the introduction of solid and semi-solid foods or complementary foods to baby’s diet.
It may sound easy, but in fact, it is one the most intriguing and complex situation, as the mother is flooded with many suggestions and advice from family and friends. A new mom has many questions like when to start weaning, what foods to start with, what foods to avoid and many others.
Every mother enjoys feeding her baby, as it gives her the ultimate joy and satisfaction that her child is eating well. As exciting as it seems, it is also important and necessary that these foods are packed with the necessary vitamins and minerals to ensure maximum growth and development of the baby. It is great fun to explore new flavors, colors, and textures together. Here are some useful suggestions to ease out the difficulties and making Weaning an easy task:-
Before we get started, let us always remember that the most important aspect is “hygiene”. Babies are very sensitive and more susceptible to infections, therefore necessary caution is to be taken with regard to their foods. It is in the best interest of the baby to completely depend on mother’s milk during the first six months. As the mother’s milk acts as a shield for the baby, protecting it from diseases and infections.
How do you know that your baby is ready for Weaning?
True signs or signals demonstrated by a baby are:
- Baby cries constantly in spite of being breastfed.
- Baby opens and closes mouth frequently
- Baby sucks on lips, tongue, hands, fingers, tongue, toys or clothing.
- When the baby is able to stay in a sitting position and hold the head steady
- When baby moves head repeatedly from side to side
False signals could be:
- Chewing fists
- Waking up in the night when they have had multiple naps throughout the day
- Wanting extra milk feeds
These are normal behavior and usually, they continue until the baby’s sleeping pattern is in place. Breastfeeding and extra milk feeds are usually enough for the baby until they are ready for solid foods, which is usually around 6 months.
Why does it pay to wait until 6 months?
Research shows that the baby gets all its nutrition from mother’s milk or infant formula until they are 6 months old. The baby’s digestive system develops and becomes stronger and gradually ready to accept solid foods. Nevertheless, mother’s milk should be continued even after 6 months till the time you can. As it will keep providing nutrition and stamina to the baby which will last a lifetime.
The first servings- How much of Solids to give?
To start with, give your baby small quantities. The idea is to introduce solids to her taste buds, here quantity does not matter. Go slow – introducing one food at a time. Continue the same food for 4-5 days and check for any allergic reactions like rashes, patches on the skin, hives, etc. If any visible signs, stop the culprit food immediately. And give a gap of 2-3 months before you re-introduce the solid. One thing not to be forgotten is that the child might not like the taste of solids at first. She might eat very little or completely spit out the food. There is no need to press the panic button. Give her time to get used to the idea of eating. This will also save you a lot of time, as the baby will learn to eat properly without having any difficulty in swallowing.
Baby’s first solid foods-
Your baby’s first solid foods should be smooth, clear, and simple foods which can be easily digested. It could be in the form of purees, mashed vegetables, clear soups or rice. The recommended foods are:-
- Purees of fruits such as apple, pear, banana, papaya
- Purees of vegetables such as carrot, gourd, sponge gourd, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin
- Clear vegetable soups, dal or lentil water
- Baby cereal, or mashed rice mixed with little bit of usual milk.
Here are some Solid Food Ideas which you can use for your 6 months old baby –
It is best to introduce foods one at a time in small quantities. Most importantly wait until the baby is 6 months old to introduce solid foods. The foods you need to be a little cautious about while introducing them to your baby are:-
- Cow’s milk and other milk products such as paneer, cheese, ghee
- Egg whites
- Fish and shell fish
- Oranges and other citrus foods
These should not be introduced into the baby’s diet until they have completed one year.
Getting started for Weaning
These are a few tips which go a long way in making Weaning a much simpler process:-
- Wait for the baby to open his mouth, and then feed him. This ensures that he is ready to chew and swallow.
- Always stay beside the baby while he is eating, so that he does not choke.
- Start with one or two teaspoons of solids, once a day.
- Do not be in a hurry; allow the baby to enjoy the texture when holding the food.
- Allow the kids to eat by themselves, as it gives them the feeling of satisfaction. Introduce finger foods, like veggies or fruits cut in the size of your finger which is easy to hold and eat too.
6. Some kids might like to hold on to the spoon; allow them to. Once they are satisfied, take the spoon and start feeding them.
- Most importantly, foods should be introduced in their natural way, adding of preservatives, honey, salt, sugar or stock cubes to be strictly avoided.
Let us remember, babies, do not require 3 proper meals like how we do. This makes it easy for the mother to feed solid foods whenever she and the baby are relaxed and comfortable. To start with, once a day is perfect, gradually the baby starts liking the solid foods and they would eat proper food like the rest of the family, in small portions of course.
Please feel free to give your suggestions, ideas, and feedback in the comments section below.