Most of the moms will have this topic in their minds and on their Google searches by the time their baby is 6 months old. Baby weaning technically means transitioning your baby from breastfeeding to solid foods. Many people also refer to weaning from breastmilk to formula. The basic idea here is that at the baby grows older, breast milk is not longer enough as the main source of nutrition and so you have to introduce semi-solid and gradually solid foods to complete their nutritional requirement.
There is no fixed time for weaning your baby. The best way to wean is to look for signs from the baby. If the baby begins to show interest in the food plate on the table and is getting impatient while nursing, it is probably time you weaned him onto solid foods. Weaning however does not mean that breast feeding should be stopped. It is a very important and essential thing for you to feed the baby exclusively for 6 months. Thereafter you can gradually reduce the feeding one session at a time and introduce solid food along with the baby formula. It is recommended that the first feed that you can drop is the mid morning one, followed by the day, evening and finally the bedtime feed. Feed your baby a little and then offer the first bowl of food. The first time your baby takes solids, he may not like it and even spit it out. So, you must begin with a very small quantity and gradually increase the number of spoons once in a few days.
Types of Baby Weaning
There are two main types of weaning- baby led weaning and mother led weaning. Baby led weaning is the term used when the baby weaning is decided based on cues given by the baby. Disinterest in breastfeeding and readiness to sit are some of the signs that your little one is ready for his first spoon. This approach also encourages the baby to eat on his own, however messy it is. It helps them to feel the food and makes the eating habits much better as the child grows up. Mother led weaning is the commonest type of weaning these days where the mother decides when to start the baby on solids. If the mother is planning to go back to work then she might decide to switch from breast to the bottle. When doing so, always remember that sudden stopping of the breastfeeding will prove to be harmful for both you and your baby. Your baby will get cut off from the intimate feeling and comfort associated with breast feeding. On the other hand, you will experience health problems like engorged breasts and formation of lumps in the breast if you abruptly stop feeding your baby. So baby weaning should be a gradual and methodical switch over from the breast to the bottle or solid foods.
Good Baby Weaning Habits
- Weaning off breastfeeding is a very difficult task. Skip one feed at a time and in place of that feed, give a bottle or a semisolid meal. Drop the next feeding after two weeks. This way the transition will be gradual and your baby will get time to adjust. It will also prevent mastitis and swollen breasts in the mother as the milk supply will diminish gradually.
- Make the feeding sessions shorter and after a while, offer the cup or baby bottles. Do this for the day feedings. You will notice that the last feedings to be dropped are the night ones. That is because the baby feeds for comfort and the feeling of being close to you gives him a sense of security. So, try it slowly with formula and breastfeeding.
- Try to postpone the breast feeding session and try to give the bottle instead. You can also try to put a few drops of breast milk in the mouth and then offer the bottle nipple to the baby. These are just small tips and you should follow the cues given by your baby and do what you feel is best. A mothers instinct is the biggest guide that you can get.
- Always introduce only one new food at a time and give that to the baby for at least three days. By doing so you can ensure that the baby is tolerating the food well and also find out if he has any food allergies. If you see any such symptoms, you should stop that food item and keep it in mind for the future too.
- When you introduce solids, try to give a variety of fruits and vegetable purees to the baby. Ensure that the diet is balanced and well spaced. This will provide the baby with the important nutrients. If you child does not feed well, you may need to give a few supplements like B complex, vitamin D etc. Always use an iron fortified cereal or formula for your baby to minimize the chances of iron deficiency anemia.
There are times when the baby is not ready for solids or falls sick after introducing new foods. In all such conditions, do not panic and get the child on breast feeding again. It will nourish the child and also calm him down when he is crying due to being unwell. You can try again after a few days or a week. Remember, it is not easy to transfer a breastfeeding baby into weaning baby.