From milk to solids: How to cope with your baby’s switching food patterns?
So, your bumblebee is growing big. Yeah! It’s a wonderful experience.
There are plenty of beautiful & adorable moments in the growing phase of your munchkins. And one of it is the cute little eyes busy wondering about the colorful foodstuff on your plate and some honey bees just waiting to grab it right from your hand. And this deal gets fair when you, as parents yearn to see your sweet twinkle as an equal partner in your munching deals. Yes, this phase does come in your life and Weaning is what it is termed as!
Scientifically, weaning is defined as a gradual process of transition through the introduction of solid food to an infant alongside sustained formula or breastfeeding. Now, this further raises one question in mind-When is the ideal time to start with weaning? There are certain medical bodies like the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Health & Medical Research Council in Australia, and National Health Service Choices UK that mention a waiting period of 6 months before the baby’s food is presented.
Weaning marks, the most important phase in the development and growth of an infant. The obvious reason behind it is the need for those extra nutrients that an infant’s body requires, e.g. iron, zinc, proteins, good fats, carbs, etc.
Weaning is a milestone in your child’s growth that calls for proper guidance and understanding of this subject. It may turn out to be frustrating if the particularities of this matter are poorly or mis-understood. Come, let`s get every detail explored and make this phase worth remembering.
When is my baby ready for weaning?
As mentioned earlier, weaning can be started from the age of 6 months but it can be even considered during the 7th month. The age lesser than 6months needs to be ideally avoided in view of the development of the swallowing reflex and gut preparation (digestion process of the complex/ new food). The other signs notifying the readiness of your baby includes the back and neck self-balancing, increased appetite in spite of regular milk feeds in addition to the interest and excitement of grabbing the new foodstuff.
Should I continue breastfeeding?
The shift has to be gradual. Hence, breastfeeding or formula milk has to be continued. Ideally, you can consider skipping one feed initially, say for e.g. the afternoon milk time, and introduce the food item. Just don’t let them starve! This action will eventually prepare the baby for solids and slowly the milk consumption can be lessened. However, breastfeeding or milk formula can be continued until 12months of age.
How to start solid food?
At first, a spoon or two of completely pureed food can be given. It should be free from lumps, thick/hard particles and the temperature shouldn’t be very hot/ cold. Remember it’s something new for them. The eye plus food container coordination and the understanding of chewing and swallowing may take time. Also, don’t expect the eating demo to be neat and tidy. The mess comes as a package. Gather a lot of patience and have some fun with them by doing it yourself! Once they get a catch of it, increase the number of spoons and thicken the consistency. So, mashed food can be considered followed by finely minced ones and finger foods at a later stage.
What can I give my baby?
We know you must be willing to get every possible foodstuff on their platter. Hold on mommies and daddies! It is not about party time but their overall growth and development. Serve what is needed rather than giving what you wish to. There are various options like the cooked veggies, khichdi, millets porridge, soft idlis, dairy products like cottage cheese/yogurt, rice-milk porridge, custard, mashed fruits or cooked apples, scrambled eggs, cooked, softened and minced fish/lean meat, cereals, soft chapatis-soaked and mashed in some gravy, cooked lentils & beans, roots, starchy fruits, etc. Avoid anything that is processed or refined in nature. Add some colors to their lives. Nature has plenty, in the form of fruits, vegetables, and grains. The various color is fundamental in providing all the essential vitamins and macro+micro-nutrients.
Is there anything else worth paying attention to?
Yes. Never force-feed. Always avoid stale food. Fresh cum seasonal fruits and greens have to be considered. Ensure proper hygiene in food handling and adopt adequate sterilization methods for the utensils, bowls, spoons, mugs, glasses, and so on. This routine will take care of the contamination and the exposure of your baby to various germs. Water can be given as few sips in between. Home-cooked food is highly preferable. Packaged/canned items need to be sidestepped as far as possible.
What needs to be avoided?
A strict No to-Whole Nuts especially peanuts, tea/ coffee, soft drinks, tetra packed juices, ice-creams, candies/chocolates, sugary sweets/drinks, raw vegetables, unwashed/unclean carrots/radish/corn/fruits, etc.
The bottom line is – Food need not be expensive. It has to be nutrient-dense, soft, colorful, easy to swallow or munch, full of energy, hygienic and safe to eat. Most important of all it is the practice of getting involved in this weaning period that gets you emotionally attached and develops a great bonding with your cupcakes.
Have fun and let the fun grow as your little Stars take few steps further, of their lives!