Weaning means getting accustomed (an infant or other young mammal) to food other than its mother’s milk.
Its 1st step in introducing the food to infant and it is crucial one too.
All the choices which are made in weaning help in overall growth of physical and mental being of an intact.
Since mothers milk not only gives nourishment but also lot of belonging, love and affection to child.
In India, Hindu culture commemorates the introduction of first foods with the ceremonial ritual Annaprashana.
This first step of introduction is celebrated with pomp and show.
Amongst the various Indian weaning foods, Rice is the first food offered to the babies.
The infant’s gut development is gradual and acceptability to new foods is slow.
Why so much furore in introducing solids??
Foods either mother’s milk or solids are ways to gains attention and affection by infants. We often see kids showing all tantrums on food. Just for attention.
Every morsel we start introducing to infant leaves a memory on him/her.
Introduction of food is the beginning of acquiring the palette of ones family history and eating habits.
The nutrition quotient weaning foods is also at par to the age requirement.
The need for iron, vitamin A, D, C is essential beyond 6 months of age as milk and formula milk will be insufficient in these nutrients.
Salt, sugar, oil, and butter or ghee is generally avoided until the baby is 8 months of age.
STAGES OF WEANING
There are three stages of weaning
1. Stage 1 : First tastes (4-6 months)
2. Stage 2: Introduce a broad range of foods gradually (7-9 months)
3. Stage 3: Baby can enjoy 3 balanced meals a day (10-12 months)
In stage 1 -Baby is introduced with first solid food. Foods should be smooth pureed. Like banana, sapota etc. .It is fed with spoon. Salt, sugar, oil, and butter or ghee is generally avoided until the baby is 8 months of age.
Don’t force feed. Make it a happy pleasant moment.
Foods that can be introduced in stage 1
• Mashed Banana
• Mashed sapota
• Mashed sweet potato
• Blended, mashed, or soft cooked sticks of parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear.
• Rice mixed with your baby’s usual milk.
Make sure any cooked food has cooled right down before offering it to your baby.
Every child is special and different. What suits one may not suit another.
Stage 2 -.The second stage of weaning is the time for everyone to try and start moving towards more solid foods. Introducing new foods can be a surprise for your little one.
They may spit it out at first, or refuse to try it, but don’t give up! Remember it can take up to 8 times for a baby to accept a new taste.
One food at a time. Don’t force feed. They become more and more stubborn about the type of food they eat as they grow up. Let their mealtime be pleasant. If the baby is not in the mood to eat, let him be.
Do not attempt to force-feed or he will develop a general aversion towards every food let baby get use to one type of food than introduce another.
Foods that can be introduced in stage 2
- First – start with an iron rich protein food like meat, beans, lentils, eggs or tofu.
- Second – add your veg and fruit as these provide vitamin C and help your baby absorb the iron.
- Third – add in an energy provider – examples of these are grains, yoghurt, buttered toast, potato, sweet potato, and other energy sources.
At this stage encourage your baby to be in charge of feeding themselves. Give them a spoon and place the food on the table in front of them then sit back and let them explore. It’s good for them to decide which foods to eat and in what order.
Stage 3 By the third stage of weaning baby should be eating a good variety of foods with varying tastes and textures from the different groups. Give them chewable finger foods. Stop feeding pureed food.
Foods that can be introduced in stage 3
- Well-cooked vegetables of any variety. Include local and seasonal vegetables ensure they are cleaned properly.
- Ripe fruits of any variety. (Mashed or cut-up bananas work very well at this stage.)
- Shredded meat.
- Scrambled eggs.
- Soft cheese.
- Cooked grains
- Small pieces of tofu/cottage cheese.
Factors to be Considered While Introducing Weaning:
1. One food at a time should be introduced so as to know the child s tolerance.
2. The infant should become familiar with foods before giving new one
3. Consistency should be very thin and should not contain fibrous material.
Since food is the building block in development of immunity so it should be nourishing all the minerals and vitamins.
Baby’s has innate ability to self regulate according to what her/his body actually needs. Once stomach is full they tend to play with food which helps in developing sensory organs.
If the baby is active, sleeping well, responding to stimulus weaning goal is fulfilled.
This article is written by Dietician – Smita Khanna Roy Chowdhury.
Visit her website – https://eatrightstaybright.com/