Baby weaning comes out as a period of high emotions. High on emotions as in you as a mother will be trying your best to introduce the baby to solid foods outside of breastfeeding while it is accompanied by the agony of weaning your little one away from breastfeeding as much as possible. Even though it is a gradual exercise, babies tend to wail their heart out in turn making the mothers involved, highly emotional.
It is indeed a much needed exercise to be done for the growth and development of the baby since as the baby grows, it needs to get its nutrients from various sources outside of breastfeeding. For babies who have had a lack of breastfeeding due to some unfortunate reason or for mothers with insufficient milk flow, the gradual progression for the child will be from formula foods to solid foods.
When to start baby weaning?
It is noticed that a baby when is around six months of age, starts to show an inclination towards the food that you as an adult consume. The baby’s head would have become steady by that time and will be slowly able to sit with some support and also generally around this time most babies start teething.
Natural actions like trying to reach and grab the food from your hand, opening its mouth for want of feed while you eat, crying out more intensely to express hunger, sucking its hands etc., are few signs to show that the baby is getting ready for solid food.
False signals for baby weaning:
Mothers should patiently wait until the baby is ready for solid food. If not there can be serious repercussions like diarrhoea and possible respiratory infections too if breastfeeding or formula food is stopped or minimised all of a sudden and solid food is introduced.
Signs like a baby indulging in chewing its fists continuously or frequent awakening in the nights or increased wanting of milk feed should not be confused for the phase of getting ready for weaning. A baby can switch from deep sleep to light sleep several times during the night and making the baby switch to solid food won’t change its sleep patterns. Also chewing of its fists is a normal behaviour and is not indicative of hunger. And it is quite but natural for the baby to ask for extra feeds.
Three recipes to vouch for:
Although we will not be able to go for feeding the baby a total of three meals a day, multiple feedings help. Weaning as such is an exercise of introducing multiple tastes to the baby in a gradual way, it is tough to zero in on specific recipes for the baby at this time. However there are few which are time-tested and successfully used by mothers across generations for decades. Happy to say that I am one of them too!
1. Fruits and vegetables:
Going for natural foods works best for a baby. Steamed apple, pureed banana, mashed avocado, steamed and mashed sweet potato, steamed and pureed carrot, steamed potato and more. The list is definitely endless! A little bit of seasoning with salt and sugar can be done. However go easy on the salt intake, as it should less than 2g per day and sugar should be less than 13gm per day. One word of caution should be to not make puree and juice out of fruits every time since they release free sugars which can cause tooth decay. Giving them as finger foods to consume raw is the best bet.
2. Steamed Semolina:
Cooking up semolina (sooji) in water or milk with a bit of salt or sugar to taste along with ghee works well for infants. Can try seasoning it up with few aromatic herbs for added taste but avoid anything spicy.
Without restricting it to just steamed rice to be consumed with salt and ghee or sugar and ghee, mothers can introduce the baby to various forms of rice like idlis and dosas which they can slowly nibble away. Just remember to mash up anything you want to feed the baby.
Additionally now is the time for you to give your baby a taste of coconut water, stock of steamed lentils, seasonal fruits and vegetables and perhaps the exotic varieties too. Mothers should cautiously notice for any signs of irritability or discomfort in the baby during the period of weaning.
Some foods can trigger allergies in infants and hence it is best to consult your paediatrician in case of any negative reflex action say for example even a baby puking out the feed. Also if the baby is resisting the feed by putting it out with its tongue instead of swallowing it then it is advised not to get overzealous and try to force-feed the baby. Like I said earlier, patience is the key to a successful baby weaning. Don’t stress unnecessarily and do enjoy the phase with your baby!