Breast milk is hands down the best food to give to an infant - no doubt about it. But as a baby grows, their nutritional and developmental needs grow too. That's when it becomes necessary to include solid foods in your baby's diet. As your baby gets used to eating the solid foods, you cant start gradually increasing the number of solid meals and reduce the number of breastfeeding sessions. This process is called 'weaning'.
What Is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning is a method of adding complementary food items to your baby’s regular dose of breast milk. It facilitates and helps the development of the oral activity and bone structure. It is a period where babies are introduced to new food items other than milk. However, keep in mind that weaning here does not mean that you stop feeding them milk. It means that you add solid food like smashed carrots, potato, peas and similar food items to their diet.
Why Do You Need To Wean Your Baby?
Now let’s look at the benefits and reasons for baby led weaning.
1. It is easier on the parents to give them solid food that you prepare for yourself. Making purées takes a lot of time.
2. The babies get to decide how much, what and when they want to eat. This eliminates the fear of overfeeding or underfeeding your little one.
3. It saves a lot of time as parents don’t have to spend more time feeding children when they don’t want to eat.
4. It develops healthy food habits.
5. Babies learn to handle food well.
6. Eating food together helps children learn from their parents. Children are the best imitators and this method of learning has more effect on them.
How To Wean Your Baby?
It doesn’t take much to start weaning your baby. All you need is a safe place to seat your baby and feed them food. A high chair is safe and secure for the baby of course, but your lap works as well. Give them healthy finger foods like avocado, banana, carrots, pumpkin, and egg yolk, which are easy for them to swallow and digest. Click here if you want to view what foods to introduce to your baby and here if you want to read some yummy baby food recipes.
Your baby may not readily accept the solid food at the first try. You may have to offer the solid food with the help of a tiny spoon a few times before they finally give it a try. The key is to be patient with them. If they make a fuss, just continue with your regular feeding.
Once they agree to try out the new food, continue offering it for 3 days. Don't introduce any new food during those 3 days. This is called the 3-day rule. This method will help detect any food allergy that your baby might have.
Signs of allergy to watch out for:
- difficulty breathing
- loss of consciousness
*If your child does have an allergic reaction to any food, inform your doctor about it and make note of the allergy.
Important Points To Keep In Mind:
1. Babies should be encouraged to join the family at mealtime.
2. They should feed themselves.
3. They should choose what, when and how to eat.
4. They should be given freedom to explore new tastes and textures without any pressure.
5. They should never forced to eat.
6. You must never stop feeding them milk. Instead, introduce new food items along with it.