You have carefully followed the intructions on breastfeeding your baby, like when to start and how to do it properly. However, you just realized how fast your little child is growing up, and there is definitely one day to put a stop to breastfeeding. Sadly enough, when to start weaning – the process of breast milk withdrawal and adult diet orientation every baby must come through – varies dramatically depending on your gut feel and signs from your baby.
Although unable to talk yet, your baby plays an important role in the weaning process (he/she is the one being fed anyway). It would be a great thing if he is already enjoying solid food, but if not (for example, he’s not old enough), you should come to your pediatrician for advice.
Let’s talk about most moms’ feeding concern: solid food. To help you know when your baby is ready to take in solid food, we provide some major signs that tell you that (remember to ensure your baby has all of them to start introducing him/her to adult diet):
- Head control: This area is the most fragile of the entire body – constant attention has been paid since birth and during breastfeeding – but through time it gets stronger. Hence, once your baby can master the head-and-neck movement control like holding his/her head up with little parental help, he/she may be ready.
- Teeth: They are a sign that your baby can chew; along with teeth comes the solid food-preparatory development of mouth, tongue and the entire digestive system. The frequency of drooling may also decrease to much less than before teeth grow to none, as he/she has mastered the ability to swallow.
- Weight gain: Track your baby’s weight – normally a baby should be at least 6 months old and weigh twice as much as birth weight to start feeding on solid food. (Some wean at the 4th month, which is not recommended because the baby may run into serious food allergies.)
- Changing/expanding appetite: This means your baby’s nutritional needs have reached the point where milk is just not enough. He/she then needs to be fed solid food to obtain the nutritions needed for their well-being at this age.
- Curiosity: Let your baby take part in the family meal’s table, because you will soon realize your baby is centralizing his/her eyes/ interest on your food, imitating the chewing movement or even trying to grab your food. That is a big sign that baby is ready to chew the real solid food.
First Food Suggestions
- Iron-fortified rice cereal: This is highly recommended not only by pediatricians but also a great number of moms who have tried and tested and was convinced by the safety feature. Also, you can serve rice cereal in small amounts at a time, making it suitable for solid food starters’ small meal.
- Pureed vegies: Parents with new baby should purchase a blender for pureed baby meals, especially vegetables (We all hated chewing HUGE pieces of broccoli, didn’t we?). However, do NOT feed baby with uncooked vegetables because they can cause tummy illness. It is best to wash then cook, or blanch, to kill bad bacteria. For starters, go with yellow or orange vegetables like squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, or a more flavoured combination of yellows and greens such as peas and green beans.
- Pureed fruits: Vitamins and minerals, rich in applesauce, bananas and pears, are also necessary nutrients for baby’s digestive health as they help absorb essential nutritions and flush toxics out. You can either puree fruits or mix 1 part of fruit juice and 2 parts water into a nutritious drink.
New foods feeding should obey the 4-day rule. (Keep track on any allergic reaction in the first 4 days to make sure there is no rash or stomachache , and so you can keep feeding that food. Or else, stop and bring the food back later.)