Weaning Your Baby | What, When & How

Being a parent, you will surely agree that we are in a never-ending learning process. All of us experience similar things and speak a common language. Every day comes with new challenges and struggles, and somehow, we get away with them.

One of those challenges begins when our babies are ready to taste foods other than mother’s milk or formula.

Yes, people, weaning is one of the most important stages in the growth cycle of your child. It is a slow, gradual, and tiresome process that requires plenty of tolerance and compromise.

What does weaning mean?

It refers to the moment when a toddler moves from breast milk or formula to some other sources of nourishment. Some health experts define weaning as ”the time when breastfeeding or formula feeding is progressively supplemented with other foods.” However, starting solid food does not necessarily mean the elimination of milk from an infant’s diet. Weaning can be of two types, planned (mother-led) or natural (child-led).

Credits: Freepik

When to start?

Most studies suggest that 5 to 6 months is the appropriate time for your toddlers to switch to other foods. But, as all babies are different, so there is no particular age. If you notice your baby is getting hungry earlier than before, have good head control or shows interest in the food while seeing others eating, it could be the right time to start solids.

How to wean your baby?

If you have explored the internet for suggestions regarding weaning, you might have read plenty of weaning do’s and don’ts, right? Keeping this in our mind, we have compiled a few important steps to make your weaning journey as easy as possible.

Credits: Freepik

Educate yourself:

Before starting something new with your little bud, it is always better to learn from the experiences of others. There are plenty of free resources from which you can take help. Also, there are lots of books that are written specially to educate mothers. For example, Contented Little Baby Book of Weaning written by Gina Ford, Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley, etc.

See whether your baby is ready or not:

As mentioned earlier, health experts recommend that after your toddler reaches the age of 6 months, it is safe to start weaning. However, if your child is showing good head and neck control, or can sit properly in your lap, these signs show that they are ready.

Select an appropriate weaning method:

You can select between the spoon-feeding method and baby-led weaning. The former usually start with purees that slowly change the texture and introducing finger foods after the 7th month. Whereas baby-led weaning starts directly with solid food, missing out on purees, and it lets your baby take control of the food. Yes, baby-led weaning is gaining popularity, but spoon-feeding is more popular as it is the traditional method. You can select the appropriate one and start accordingly.

Credits: Freepik

Purchase proper feeding equipment:

Now, this does not mean you must refurnish your whole kitchen. There are mainly 4 things that are necessary before introducing solid food to your children. A dining chair for your toddler to sit right in, an unbreakable bowl, napkins, and plastic spoons. Moreover, there are many weaning products available in the market that can make things easier for you.

Start at a suitable time:

Selecting the right time to start weaning depends on your convenience, and the method of you are adapting. Most of the experts suggest that do it when your baby is not severely hungry. If your baby is expecting a milk feed and you offer him/her a spoon full of puree, things will surely not work out. If you have adapted the baby-led weaning method, it is better to start when your baby shows interest in your food, like at tea time or lunch.

Select the first foods wisely:

So, if you are choosing the spoon-feeding method, introduce those foods that do not have a bitter taste. Some mothers start with baby rice mixed with formula milk, which is a pretty good option. If you are going for the other method, you can start with soft fruits or baked vegetables like carrots or broccoli. According to a survey, some of the most famous first foods are apple, banana, potato, porridge, etc.

Credits: Freepik

Go slow:

It is very important to remember that this whole process requires patience. You must make yourself compatible with your baby’s pace without expecting too much from them. Remember, mealtimes are supposed to be relaxed and enjoyable events.

Stay Vigilant:

Never leave your babies alone while they are eating. Even if they are eating all by themselves, you cannot just leave them on their own. One of the primary goals of Baby Led Weaning is to make mealtime a quality social time. In the early stages, most of the babies’ gag, and your absence at that time can make things complicated.

Do not offer too much assistance:

This step is significant especially if you are using the baby-led weaning (BLW) method. This is the main difference between other traditional methods and BLW, as you are giving full control to your child.

Credits: Freepik

Embrace the mess, people!

Weaning is a drippy, goopy, and dirty process, and instead of avoiding it, you must embrace it. Well, it is obvious, isn’t it? When you give food to a learner with no self-feeding background, things are bound to get messy. Try to feed your little angel in a room that has wipe-able flooring.

Final Verdict:

In the end, please understand that it is completely normal to have mixed feelings in the whole weaning process. Yes, weaning brings more flexibility and freedom. However, nursing is a special activity that nurtures a powerful connection between a mother and her child, which most women find it hard to let go of. Similarly, some babies will get going instantly, while others can take a while. The thumb rule to remember is that the performance of your child entirely depends on how calm you are.

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