As a parent after about 4 to 6 months of breastfeeding, it is time to wean your baby and start offering solid food. During this period the most common question is how to wean your baby? Other concerns include how much milk should baby drink, what is the best time to start the weaning process and what foods to offer?
What is best for baby would include considerations of whether you are going to make your meals from home or rely on store-bought baby food? All the options can leave mums confused or overwhelmed.
Here are top tips on how to wean your baby
What is weaning all about?
Weaning is the process of moving your baby from a diet of just milk to solid food. Weaning helps lay the foundations for healthy eating habits, and teaches your baby how to eat from a spoon, swallow and eventually chew. There are some signs that help you identify if your baby is ready for the weaning process. Does he hold his head up comfortably? Does he seem interested in your food when you are eating? It is recommended that weaning starts at six months, preferably after an exclusive breastfeeding period. Baby-led weaning is the best type of weaning which happens when your child begins to lose interest in nursing, and that can happen any time after she starts eating solids.
How Much milk does baby need
Even though you have started the weaning process, milk remains the main source of nutrition for your baby. As they stop getting all their nutrients from milk, it is advisable to start a baby supplement such as Abidec
What do you need
Your baby will eat little quantities, so to avoid wasting food you can cook in batches and store in small containers like ice cube trays. You can then thaw, warm and serve later. You would need a steamer or food processor, ice cube trays for storage, baby spoons and bowls (BPA free), sippy cup to encourage independent drinking, bibs, food masher. High levels of hygiene are recommended as you did during milk stage. It is important to clean all utensils like sippy cups thoroughly as they can trap dirt and harbour germs after a period of use.
How can you prepare the food
Pureed food and finger foods are great foods to offer baby as you start the weaning process. Start with pureed food which has a softer texture and is easy for baby to swallow.
What should baby eat
As you introduce solid foods, it is advisable to start with vegetables as this has great benefits in the long run. Research has shown that encouraging vegetable intake during weaning helps to shape your little one’s preferences and forms healthy habits for the future! Introduce different single vegetable flavours early in weaning process so that baby gets used to this taste and it is easier to continue serving this as they grow up.
Your baby’s first foods can include mashed or soft cooked vegetables like potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, steamed or mashed fruit like apple or pear, banana, melon. If you steam any foods like apples be sure to cool before you serve your baby. As you add more options and bulk home-made baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk, are good options.
Some favourite first meals are amala, ewedu and crayfish this is a Nigerian favourite through the ages and still a great weaning meal. Other meals like home-made rice cereal mixed with milk, apple or chicken stock are great options. Think of balanced diets of protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables as you serve your baby.
Keep feeding your baby breast milk or infant formula, too, but don’t give them whole cows’ milk as a drink until they are one year old.