Your breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for your baby until he is 6 months old. After which, is a good time to feed him solid foods and introduce him to different flavors, textures, and tastes. You could still continue to feed breastmilk or formula milk along with solid foods; since it has added benefits of enhancing the baby’s immunity, and reducing the chances of developing obesity and diabetes in later life.
Signs Your Baby Is Ready For Weaning
Every baby is different and might show that he needs solid food in different ways. Most babies usually show these signs at the beginning of the 6th month. The most common signs to watch out for are:
- When your baby can sit comfortably and hold his head in a steady position.
- When he develops good eye-hand-mouth coordination, which lets him look at the food, pick it, and put it in the mouth.
- When the baby no longer pushes the food out of the mouth and can swallow the food without any hassles.
The Stages Of Weaning
Depending on the age of the baby, weaning is divided into three stages. Explained below are the same.
1. Stage 1 (Around 6 Months, Not Before 17 Weeks)
This is the initial stage of weaning, where your baby is introduced to different textures and flavors. The ultimate aim is to acquaint him to solid foods and let him ingest the food through spoon.
- To begin with, puree the starchy vegetables like potato, carrot, sweet potato, cauliflower, peas, and broccoli.
- Fruits like apple, pear, and banana can be cooked and pureed.
- Apart from these, rice cooked and mashed and mixed with formula milk is also a good option.
- Try out a different vegetable or fruit every day, to let your baby familiarize with various flavors.
- Avoid adding salt or sugar.
- Start by offering a runny texture, and gradually increase the consistency with no lumps.
- Do not forget to test the temperature of the food before feeding it to the baby.
- Offer 2–3 meals per day, with each meal consisting of 5–10 teaspoons.
- Continue to feed breastmilk or formula milk and make sure your baby consumes at least 600 ml of it.
2. Stage 2 (From 6 Months To 9 Months)
- You can now include smaller lumps in the food, making sure the consistency is a thicker than in stage 1.
- Introduce dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and cow’s milk.
- Offer softer fruits and vegetables like stripes of banana, apple, and cooked carrot as finger foods (foods cut into stripes, such that the baby can hold it in his hands and eat by himself)
- Wheat-based cereals, pasta, bread can be softened in milk and fed to the baby.
- Well-cooked eggs can be crumbled softly. Meat and fish can be cooked thoroughly and pureed coarsely.
- Mixing two textures in a single meal is a good idea
- Introduce your baby to a cup of water during meal time. This will help the baby learn to sip and will also aid his teething.
- Do not add salt or sugar even at this stage.
3. Stage 3 (From 9 Months To 12 Months)
- At this stage, you can include more lumps and coarsely pureed meals for your baby.
- The baby’s food can resemble all other family members’ food, with lesser salt, sugar, and no spice.
- Chopped and cooked fruits and vegetables can be fed.
- Increase the portion size and frequency of meals with 2–3 snacks in between.
- Harder pieces of finger foods can now be introduced.
- Continue to breastfeed or provide formula milk in between the meals.
It is important to remember that not all babies are same. While some begin to wean immediately, other babies take time to get adjusted to the solid food. If your baby is unhappy with the new foods, do not force him. However, do not give up on feeding that food again either, since some babies need time to develop a taste for some foods.
It is good to try one food at a time, as it helps you know the allergies the baby can possibly develop. Initially, solid food should just be a supplement to normal milk feeds. Even when the baby gets used to weaning completely, he should have about 600 ml of milk every day.