How to Wean Your Baby

The process of ending a baby’s total dependence on a breast or formula milk and gradually introducing solid foods into her diet is known as weaning. It is important to start weaning your baby at the right time.

Health professionals recommend that weaning should start between four and six months. Starting to wean a baby before four months is not usually recommended because the digestive system is still immature and her kidneys may not be mature enough to deal with solid food.

Introducing foods too early may also predispose her to allergies. And the muscle and nerve coordination needed for head control and to enable her to swallow food may not be entirely developed.

Starting to wean a baby after six months is not recommended because after this stage she needs more iron and other nutrients than milk can provide. If you leave it too long, she will find it more difficult to learn to chew and may not accept new tastes and textures so readily.

Starting Weaning

Take things slowly. Choose a time when your baby is not too tired, and you are not feeling rushed such as during lunch. Give her some milk from the breast or bottle before offering her a spoon or two of food.

Suitable first foods include baby rice; pureed fruit, such as banana, peeled and cooked pear, apple and apricots (don’t add sugar); and pureed vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, and carrots (boiled without salt).

Once your baby is used to a spoon, slowly increase the amount of food and add others, such as soft cooked meats and pulses, more vegetables and fruit and full-fat yogurt. Work up to giving food two or three times daily. Also, give at least 1 pint of breast or formula milk up to the age of 12 months.

From six to nine months, mash or mince foods to encourage your baby to chew, and introduce a full range, for example, meat, well-cooked egg, porridge, baked beans, and fish. Introduce finger foods, such as toast, pasta, and cubes of fruit, vegetables, and hard cheese.

By 9 to 12 months, your baby should be on three meals a day, with snacks in between. Most meals can be the same as those of the rest of the family but remember that her food needs to be cut into small pieces.

Eating Her First Solid Food

Your main aim when weaning your child is to introduce new tastes and to teach her to eat with a spoon. If she doesn’t take food at first, don’t insist but try again a week later.

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