Weaning is a systematic process of introduction of suitable food at the right time in addition to mother’s milk in order to provide needed nutrition to the baby.
It is recommended to gradually introduce solid foods when a baby is about 6 months old. Your doctor, however, may recommend starting as early as 4 months depending on your baby’s readiness and nutritional needs. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any solid foods.
How to Start Feeding Solids
- When your baby is ready and the doctor has given you the OK to try solid foods, pick a time of day when your baby is not tired or cranky. You want your baby to be a little hungry, but not all-out starving; you might want to let your baby breastfeed a while, or provide part of the usual bottle.
- Have your baby sit supported in your lap or in an upright infant seat .
- Most babies’ first food is a cereal mixed with breast milk or formula
- The first feeding may be nothing more than a little cereal mixed in a whole lot of liquid.
- Place the spoon near your baby’s lips, and let the baby smell and taste. Don’t be surprised if this first spoonful is rejected. Wait a minute and try again.
- Most food offered to your baby at this age will end up on the baby’s chin, bib, or high-chair tray. Again, this is just an introduction.
- When introducing new foods, go slow.
- Introduce one food at a time and wait several days before trying something else new. This will allow you to identify foods that your baby may be allergic to.
- Your baby may take a little while to “learn” how to eat solids. During these months you’ll still be providing the usual feedings of breast milk or formula, so don’t be concerned if your baby refuses certain foods at first or doesn’t seem interested. It may just take some time.
4 to 6 months
- Start feeding your baby solid food, begin with cereals.
- Home made rice kanji, suji kheer, thin sheera, raagi, Dalia from broken wheat, mashed boiled rice with milk(formula or expressed breastmilk) should be preferred.
- Breastfeed your baby first then feed your baby cereals.
- Do not feed cereals instead of breastmilk.
- When you start giving cereals start with 5ml or 1 teaspoon once a day. Slowly increase this to 1-2 tablespoons 2-3 times a day.
- Various commercially available cereals can also be given
- Fresh fruit juices (with no added sugar) can be added too.
- Start feeding your baby mashed vegetables and fruits in addition to cereals and breastmilk.
- Start with one kind of vegetable first, such as peas, carrots, potatoes or beans.
- When you are sure that your baby has no allergies to any 1 vegetable, then give him foods with 2 or more vegetables.
- Next, start feeding mashed fruits like apples, bananas, mangoes, papayas, and chikoos.
- Start with 5ml or 1 teaspoon at each feeding. Slowly increase to 1-2 tablespoons 2-3 times a day.
- Start regular home diet. Continue breast-feeding and cereals.
- At this stage you can add soft cooked meat, chicken or fish.
- By the time babies are around 9 months old, they usually have the dexterity and coordination to take food between forefinger and thumb so that they can try feeding themselves with their fingers.
- Egg yolks can also be introduced.
- Egg whites should be introduced only after 12 months.
- If you haven’t already, have your baby join the rest of the family at meals. At this age, they enjoy being at the table.
- By the first birthday, babies usually are ready to go from formula to cow’s milk. If you’re breastfeeding, you may decide to stop now.
- After 12 months, you can serve whole milk in a cup, which will help with the transition from the bottle.
Water and juice
- Babies who are exclusively breastfed don’t need extra water. When your baby begins to eat other foods, you can start to offer water occasionally.
- Babies and children don’t need to drink juice. Too much juice, especially apple juice, can cause diarrhea. It can fill up small stomachs and decrease your baby’s appetite for nutritious foods. Too much juice can also cause early childhood tooth decay.
- When you do offer juice, be sure it is only 100% fruit juice. Always offer it in a cup, as part of a meal or snack. Offer water to babies and young children between meals and snacks if they are thirsty. Limit juice to 120 to 180 mL per day.
Foods to Avoid before 1 year of age
- Some foods are generally withheld until later.
- Do not give eggs, cow’s milk, citrus fruits and juices, and honey until after a baby’s first birthday.
- Eggs (especially the whites) may cause an allergic reaction, especially if given too early.
- Citrus is highly acidic and can cause painful diaper rashes for a baby.
- Honey may contain certain spores that, while harmless to adults, can cause botulism in babies.
- Regular cow’s milk does not have the nutrition that infants need.
- Some possible signs of food allergy or allergic reactions include:
-bloating or an increase in intestinal gas
-fussiness after eating
For more severe allergic reactions, like hives or breathing difficulty, get medical attention right away. If your child has any type of reaction to a food, don’t offer that food until you talk with your doctor.
- Never leave your baby unattended while eating in case he or she chokes.
- Avoid foods that could present a choking hazard such as whole grapes, raw vegetables, hard fruits, raisins, nuts, popcorn, and hard candies.
- If you’re unsure about whether a finger food is safe, ask yourself:
-Does it melt in the mouth?
-Is it cooked enough so that it mashes easily? Well-cooked vegetables and fruits will mash easily.
-Can it be gummed? Pieces of ripe banana can be gummed.
Your baby’s development
How often to feed
Type of food
Sits with support
2-3 times a day*
Puréed, mashed food and semisolid foods
Sits on own
2-3 times a day*
Family foods, small amounts of soft mashed foods without lumps
3-4 times a day*
Family foods, ground or soft mashed foods with tiny soft lumps; crunchy foods that dissolve, such as biscuits
3 meals and 2 snacks a day*
Coarsely chopped foods; foods with more texture; toddler foods; bite-sized pieces of food; finger foods
*Plus breast milk, formula, or whole cow’s milk, depending on your child’s age
Developmental milestones related to feeding
Birth to 4 months
– opens mouth wide when nipple touches lips
– recognizes source of milk by about 10 weeks
4 to 6 months
– sucking strength increases
– socializes during feeding
6 to 9 months
– drinks from a cup held by an adult
– loves to be included at the table for meals
9 to 12 months
– tries to use a spoon
– is aware of what others do
12 to 18 months
– grasps and releases food with fingers
– wants food that others are eating
18 to 24 months
– appetite decreases
– easily distracted