Introducing Baby to Solids: Steps to Make Weaning a Breeze
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Initiating your little one to solids is a huge milestone! It is no surprise then, that as a mom you will have plenty of questions regarding the same – ‘When should I start?’ ‘What foods should I start with?’ ‘What if my baby doesn’t like them?’ are all thoughts that could be nagging you!
Well, precisely why, before you and your little one buckle up for the weaning journey, here are a few tips that could make your ride easy…
Watch for cues:
Most doctors recommend that weaning should begin once a baby is six months old. However, no baby is the same, so while some babies are ready for solids at six months, some others may accept weaning only at around seven months or so. Watch your little one for the following signs of readiness.
- Your baby stares at you or others eating with great interest and tries to reach out for your plate
- S/he seems hungry even after usual number of feeds of breast milk or formula
- S/he can hold her/his neck up well and can sit upright with support
- Your baby doesn’t push her/his tongue outwards if a spoon is placed on her/his mouth\
Ease your way into it:
It’s important to be gradual with solids. In the first week, feed only one teaspoon of the food at one time of the day (say, lunchtime), then slowly introduce variety and quantity. Keep up to the same number of breast feeds or formula and then gradually, swap one feed with a meal. Try every new food for at least a week before you introduce another. This way, you can keep track of allergies. Don’t reject a new food immediately if your baby doesn’t seem to be too impressed; give her/him a usual favourite and try the new food the following day.
Go simple, then experiment:
Single-grain cereals such as rice, pulses such as moong dal are popular first foods. Stewed apples, bananas, pumpkin or carrots are also favorites. Meals in the first few days need to have a runny consistency similar to breast milk or formula. Try mixing a bit of breast milk or formula to the food so that your baby gets used to it. Doctors no longer advocate giving rice water or dal water as they are said to have empty calories. As your baby grows, you can move on to coarser textures and complex foods such as khichdi, sooji kheer, soups, smoothies, porridge etc.
Have fun with the process:
If you discover that you’re dealing with a fussy eater, add some fun to weaning. Talk to your baby as you seat him, on the chair or your lap, about any and everything under the sun. Make up stories and games along the way (you could try - ‘here comes the train into the tunnel’ then scoop the spoon into the mouth). Encouragement and praise work wonders!
Try to get a baby’s perspective:
Just like us, babies have moods and tastes, so don’t be rigid or force your little one too much to eat if s/he doesn’t feel like it. We Indian mums tend to go on a guilt trip if our kids eat less. Just relax, read your baby’s signs and then try feeding. Babies pick up stress and respond with more stress, so just let go.
Here are some baby weaning no-nos
- Do not introduce your little one to solids without consulting her/his pediatrician. Doctors usually give comprehensive weaning advice taking into account the baby’s health.
- Salt, sugar and cow’s milk are usually to be avoided in the first year. However, some doctors say that homemade paneer and curds can be introduced at nine months.
- Boiled and cooled drinking water and fruit juices should be introduced slowly. Too much of juice adds unnecessary load to the daily sugar intake.
- Avoid foods like citrus fruits, pre-packed cereals, nuts, biscuits or spices initially; your baby will be ready for these tastes once s/he’s older.
- Do not forget to wash the fruits and vegetables before cooking and sterilize all the feeding utensils. You do not need a fancy sterilizer. Just wash them thoroughly after soaking them in boiling water.
For some delicious weaning recipes, check out our articles on solid food recipes. Happy weaning journey to you and your angel!
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