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Baby weaning is not an end to mother child bond which blossoms through nursing but it’s a start of a new phase in mother & child’s life and is full of surprises at every milestone.
Till the time children are weaned, they find comfort when nursed, so now a mother needs to find other ways to make the child relaxed and give extra attention. After a certain age children need extra nutrients that breast milk cannot provide. They need assortment of foods that offer varied nutrients required to develop and grow. One should wait till six months since this will minimize the risk of food reaction and allergies.
I started weaning exactly when my daughter completed 6 months. As advised by her pediatrician, we started on semi solid foods. He made us a chart which mentioned food and fruits which we could give her. We started with mashed stewed banana, stewed apple, aamras (mango puree), stewed mashed papaya, moong dal ka pani, chawal ka pani, & baby cereals. All this too be started one at a time for a week. Every week introduce a new item continued along with other foods already given. This will let you know if the child is tolerating the food well or no. Start with 1 spoon at time. I had used squeezer bottle which had spoon attached to it. It became very easy to feed and just needs to be cleaned with warm water. We also started giving her boiled water as and when required along with breast milk.
I started giving my daughter sugar after one year. It’s better not to add any salt, sugar or honey in food. Add jaggery if you wish too.
One can even start cow’s milk after 6 months. But it is important not to give full cow’s milk. It should be proportionate with boiled water. One can also add little elaichi and saunf.
Once she completed 8 months, we started with other fruits and foods like grapes, pear, khimti (mixture of dried dal and rice. It needs to be cooked in water for few minutes. It is like a homemade cereal), nachni, rava sheera and upma, fresh juices, soups, daliya, smashed potato, purees of vegetables, half boiled egg, idli, dosa (rice & rava), etc.
I nursed my daughter till 1year. So after one year as advised, we started giving her all food items, fruits, juices and chapatti. Wheat and other flour items contain gluten which can cause allergies. So it is better to start after one year. Same goes with citrus fruits and nuts.
Nuts can be given in the form of powder in milk, daliya, or sheera/porridge after one year. When the baby is comfortable chewing, one can give nuts in small pieces.
Fish, poultry, dairy products like cheese, paneer, yogurt can be given after a year.
Weaning starts after 6 months, till that time it is only mother’s milk which the child has tasted. Now, the child will start developing taste buds for different foods. It might happen that after weaning, the child might start losing his interest in mother’s milk. But do not give up. Continue breast feeding at least till a year.
Once children complete 2 years of age, they become more choosy and demanding. They eat less and play more. At this age, we need to give our kids supplement that provide important nutrients like DHA for brain development. It is important to make sure that they have at least one glass of milk daily. I started with Junior Horlicks when my daughter turned 2 and we still continue giving her.
If children our eating food, it doesn’t mean that they don’t require milk. Milk has its own set of nutrients and is rich source of calcium, which builds strong bones & teeth and helps regulate blood clotting & muscle control. And it's one of the few sources of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and is crucial for bone growth. Once you stop nursing, continue giving milk to your child. Let them develop a habit of having milk daily.
It is difficult to make a toddler sit at one place to eat. Especially when they start crawling. One can purchase a high chair or make any place as dining place of your toddler. So once you make him/her sit there, he/she should know that now it's meal time. Also, fix a schedule for eating as once your toddler gets accustomed to the timing he/she will ask you for food.
Children can be fussy and filthy while eating. One needs to be organized and persevering. Keep bibs, napkins, water ready so that you don’t need to get up and distract the child from eating. Read the child’s favorite book, remove toys or sing out songs/rhymes.
It’s ok if the child wants to hold the spoon and start eating. If children don’t make mess then who will?
I encouraged Baby-led weaning, when my daughter turned one, she became very fond of holding spoon and eating on her own. I used to make pieces of chapatti, dosas, idli and serve it in her favorite plate.
If they are throwing tantrums, leave them for some time and start all over again. The best way I found was showing pigeons, crows, sparrows, cats and dogs from the window and feeding my daughter. And I am sure, most of the parents do. We sometimes even show her favorite poetry & videos or reading out loud her favorite book.
Do not force food. They will eat when they are hungry. Always keep a gap of 2 to 3 hours and if you still breast feeding keeps more gap. Do not forget to burp the child.
Weaning might cause changes in their stool. Consult doctor if you finding anything strange. Children also get more colic after they start with foods. Keep a watch of foods which are causing them trouble. Make food fresh with lots of hygiene. Wash fruits and vegetables.
If your baby is an early riser then start with milk, then some fruits and light breakfast, each having gap of at least 2 hours; followed by lunch, snacks dinner and milk with good gap between meals. Give them enough play and sleep time.
One can buy nice crockery for kids to make food a little attractive. For e.g., many cartoon plates, cups & glasses are available in the market. Also, garnish food, like one can make tricolor idlis by mixing carrot and spinach. Or cut chapatis in shapes like triangles. My daughter loves curd and wants it with every meal, so I try to mix curd with dal rice. Prepare instant rava dosas, Soak rava for 10 min in little water, mix with little curd, wheat flour, salt, jeera, grated with cheese.
If possible, let your baby have at least one meal along with family members. This will encourage them to eat and without much hassle.
I have seen many people feeding anything and everything to their babies irrespective of their age. Certain foods if given at a right age will not only protect their bodies from any harm but also improve their immunity. Starting all foods early might increase the weight of the baby and make them look healthy & plump. But it might affect their digestive system or cause allergies and can be a matter of concern when they grow up.
Each child and mother are different and also their methods & habits. The above was my experience and approach with my child’s weaning. I am sure everyone has a unique way. Please do share yours too.