Weaning is the process of introducing semisolids and/or solid foods (or breast milk substitutes) in a baby’s diet.
WHEN AND HOW TO START?
For the intial 6 months of life, breast milk provides complete nutrition for a baby. Thereafter, a baby needs additional nutrition. Semisolid foods to supplement breast milk should be introduced at about 6 months of age. However, weaning should never be introduced before 4 months of age.
There are several developmental milestones to indicate an infant is ready for solid foods:
- when birth weight has nearly doubled
- baby has good control of head and neck
- can sit up with some support
- can show fullness by turning the head away or by not opening the mouth.
Moreover, the babies show that they are getting hungry when they demand breast milk more frequently and appear hungry despite regular brestfeeding. They also start showing an interest in solid foods when parents are eating.
Patience is needed when babies are first introduced to semi-solids. If your baby cries or turns away repeatedly when you offer food, do not force the issue. Go back to breast feeding or milk feeds for a week or two, and then try again. Your baby will enjoy this transition if you feed him/her in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. Respect a baby’s appetite and food preferences. Forcing and coaxing inevitably leads to feeding problems.
While they are learning to eat this way, they may often spit out the food – this does not mean that they dislike the food or are not hungry. It is normal for your baby to bring the food out, as the ability to swallow develops very slowly.