Life gets settled down somewhat by six months after delivery. Your baby has started on some solid food and may be sleeping longer at night. By this time, you have learned to recognize his cries and what it means. Changing nappies are now less frequent. Weaning is another milestone you have to achieve now.
Milk is the Ideal Food
Before your baby is six months old, his digestive tract is incapable of digesting and absorbing more complex foods. During the early months, only breastmilk or its equivalent formula milk should be given to the baby.
Solids should not be introduced too early as it will strain his digestive system. It might also lessen his desire to suck and that will end up in an unsatisfactory diet for his needs.
As your baby grows, he may start to demand more milk and appear unsatisfied after each feed. By this way, your baby will let you know that he needs more to eat and his feeding habits need to be changed.
Around six months, his intense desire to suck lessens and this is the sign your baby gives you to introduce the solids.
Although your baby will prefer what he knows is satisfying – ‘Milk’, but you will have to prepare him for the calories that solids provide.
Start with a small amount of food during the midday meal as your baby would be awake and cooperative at this time.
Settle in your normal position as you feed your baby, feed her from one breast or in the case of bottle-feeding, give half the usual bottle. Give him one or two teaspoons of food. After giving the solid food, give him the rest of the milk. Once he becomes used to solids, he will need water as well as milk to drink.
- Start with 15ml (1/2floz) of water between and after feeds.
- Give him water whenever he is thirsty during the day.
- Avoid any sweetened drinks, fruit juices or syrups as these will damage your baby’s teeth.
- Milk is the main source of fluid and nutrition for the baby.
- Give no more than 120ml (4floz) water a day.
Tips for Weaning
- Never force your baby to take more food as he knows how much he has to eat.
- Gradually introduce the solid food as your baby might be reluctant to try new foods.
- Give him time to get used to each new food.
- Do not force if he dislikes a particular food.
- Try one new food at a time. Give it once and wait for several days before giving it again.
- Give dry infant cereals as these are more nutritious than ready-mixed ones.
- Avoid giving foods containing nuts, gluten, eggs or dairy products (yogurts or cheese) during the first six months as these might develop allergies later.
Remember, every baby has different tastes, appetites, and requirements. Once your baby has started with a couple of different solids, try a variety of tastes and textures now. Introduce three meals a day with drinks (water, milk or diluted fruit juice).
Now, he will enjoy chewing and sucking on larger chunks of food and will also be able to deal with chopped, mashed or pureed food.
By this time, amount of milk feeds will lessen as solid meals will increase. At 12 months, the baby should still be drinking 300-600ml (10-20floz) of milk a day.
The baby will become thirsty as he is getting most of his calories from solids rather than milk. Give him plain water or diluted fruit juice to drink. Avoid giving baby commercial drinks containing colors and sugar.
Feed your baby in an infant chair or your lap. Once he is used to this, you may try a feeding table or a high chair. Make sure the baby is properly strapped in and supervised. Keep talking to your baby while feeding.
You can introduce the cup to your baby when he is about four months old. Your baby should give up bottles by 12 months. Use soft-spout cups with two-handles which he can grasp easily.
Babies who find spoons difficult to use can handle finger-foods easily. Give them large pieces of raw or cooked vegetables or fruits to chew which will also soothe gums during teething. Never leave the baby alone as he might choke.
Allow your child to feed himself if he wants to as he will enjoy it more and will also help his manual dexterity. Mealtime will soon be an opportunity to play for him and to create a mess.
Self-feeding will also help in baby’s physical and intellectual development. It will improve his hand-eye coordination as well as manual dexterity. Let him experiment and do not worry about the mess, encourage him for his efforts. It will speed up his muscle coordination and balance.
Have any new weaning tips to add, something that worked for you and your baby? Please share with us in the comments section.
Wish you a very Happy and Yummy Parenting!