Breast milk contains colostrum rich in immunoglobulins protecting the baby from various infections. Therefore, breast milk is considered an ideal food for infants and preferable to other foods for up to six months. However, after six months, a child needs some additional nutrition for their growth. Weaning is the stage of switching the child's diet to all other types of food to acquire proper nutrition. However, it is commonly observed that most women are worried about knowing the time and the way of weaning their newborn child.
What Does Weaning Mean?
Weaning is the phase of an infant's life when a mother practices the transition from breast milk to other solid foods and fluids. It is the stage where the babies who are initially entirely dependent on milk are introduced to other varieties of solid and liquid foods. Weaning is a gradual process, and it should be easy for infants and mothers.
How Could a Mother Plan Comfortable Weaning for Their Child?
It is a difficult decision for a mother to know the appropriate time to start weaning their newborn. Weaning is a personal decision and is not related to age. Every child is different, and hence this stage varies for everyone. Some children develop a desire to eat solid food early; on the other hand, some children are more fond of breastfeeding. Others may switch from breastfeeding suddenly. The growing infants need proper nutrition for their development. Planning a balanced healthy diet, especially during the first year of life, is essential to support this.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation, an infant should continue breastfeeding for the initial six months. The gradual transition should be done to other varieties of food after six months. Solid food in combination with breastmilk should be given to the child for one year. It also advises avoiding cow's milk fed to the child within one year.
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Some babies are spoon-fed, while others are taught to feed themselves during the initial phase of their life. Baby-led weaning (BLW) is the method of teaching self-feed to infants when they reach six months of age. The babies are led to pick small pieces of food independently and feed themselves. It is a more pronounced alternative to spoon-feeding and breastfeeding nowadays.
This method creates interest in children in various types of food. It helps incorporate good eating behavior in the child and provides overall long-term health benefits.
What Are the Best Suitable Baby-Led Weaning Foods?
Some food categories have high nutritional value and are accessible for the mother to incorporate into the eating habits of their growing baby while weaning.
Some of the foods are listed below,
Avocado: Avocado is recognized as a highly nutritious food. It is easily mashable and contains healthy fat, fiber, potassium, folate, copper, and Vitamin E.
Yogurt: Yogurt is rich in calcium and protein and contains healthy probiotic bacteria that provide gut health benefits. The babies usually find them tasty.
Eggs: Eggs are widely known as a healthy constituent of food as it contains proteins, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and choline. It is a rich source of choline, essential for babies for their brain and eye development.
Carrots: Carrots contain carotenoids which get converted into Vitamin A in the body. It boosts the immune system of infants.
Tofu: Tofu is an excellent source of calcium and helps to strengthen the bone in growing babies.
Meat and fish: Meat and fish are an essential part of food as it contains easily digestible iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, B12, and Zinc. Zinc plays a vital role in brain and nerve development.
Apples: Apples are a good source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C-rich food helps absorb iron from iron-rich foods. An additional benefit is that babies can easily follow BLW style to eat apples when given them in small slices.
Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes come in the category of healthy and tasty food. It is rich in fiber which supports the digestive system.
The baby-led weaning method encloses a wide variety of food items that can accomplish the nutritional requirements of the babies. Still, the mother should take care while the baby is eating to avoid the risk of choking.
What Are the Ways to Prevent Choking in Children?
Mothers should be careful while planning and offering food to their babies. Avoiding some specific foods can reduce the risk of choking; these include:
Sticky foods like candies.
Round or coin-shaped foods such as grapes and cherry tomatoes.
Raw foods like broccoli or a big slice of raw apples.
Hard foods such as nuts and popcorn.
What to Do if a Child Resists Weaning?
Sometimes, the babies resist weaning from breastmilk or formula diet to solid foods and fluids. It might be very troublesome for the lactating mother. The mother can manage it by making some behavioral changes and omitting the signs that the child recognizes for breastfeeding. A mother can deviate the child to some exciting event. Shortening the sessions of nursing the babies can also be helpful. If the child still resists weaning, breastfeeding frequency should be reduced. A mother should try to incline the babies towards other food items by choosing some colorful, attractive, and tasty food that might sound pleasing to the babies.
Weaning is a difficult phase for babies. Babies might feel apart from their mother. The mothers must show more affection through hugs and kisses during this stage. Weaning should be comfortable and pain-free both emotionally and physically for the babies and the parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for one year and continuing breastfeeding until the mother and baby prefer it. If a mother wishes to discontinue breastfeeding suddenly, she might talk to the doctor for suggestions.