Consultant Dietician, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London*
What is weaning?
Weaning your baby from the breast or the bottle starts from about 4-6 months. From about 4-6 months old, your baby needs more iron and other nutrients like Vitamin D and Vitamin C that milk alone cannot give. The idea of weaning is the process of gradual introduction to a wide range of 'non milk' foods so that by age of one, your baby will be joining in family meals.
When do I start weaning?
Weaning is a transition form breast milk or formula milk to solid foods. It is divided into the following stages:
- Stage 1: Babies are usually ready to start on solid foods between 4-6 months.
- Stage 2: 6-9 months.
- Stage 3: 9-12 months.
Begin with smooth textures, mashed, minced, chopped, finger foods and finally family foods.
|Stage1: From 4-6 months|
|During the first couple of weeks of weaning, your baby needs to learn that foods have different textures and taste, and that it doesn't come in continuous flow.
You can start off with:
- Baby should be still having 600ml of breast or infant formula milk daily.
- Starchy foods: Initially cereal is used such as baby rice or sago (sabudana).
- Mashed, pureed, starchy vegetables are also suitable e.g.- potato, carrot, sweet potato, yam (suran). Try combining some of these foods together.
- Vegetables and fruits: soft cooked pureed vegetables and fruits are suitable e.g.: apple, banana, pear, mango and chickoo. (Do not add sugar)
- Non fibrous vegetables e.g. cauliflower, pureed spinach, lauki (bottle gourd, dudhi)
1. The aim is to get the baby used to taking food from a spoon-Start with teaspoonful (quantities will be small) and milk will still be major sources of nutrients)
2. Foods should be not be salted or sweetened.
3. Don't press food on your baby-If the food doesn't seem to be wanted, wait and try again another day.
4. To try the food after a milk feed or in the middle of one
5. If food is hot, you make sure you stir it and test it again
|Stage2: From 6-9 months|
|- Gradually increase amount of food you give either before or after milk feed.
- Continue 500-600ml breast or infant formula milk
- Dairy products: Cow's milk may be used to mix solids. Cheese may be given as finger foods.
- Starchy foods-2-3 servings daily: introduce wheat based cereals- khichri (gruel of rice and pulses) -sooji halwa/porridge -nachni mixed with milk (porridge).
- Vegetables: 2 servings
Raw soft fruits and vegetables may be given as finger foods e.g. -soft cooked strips of carrot, Cooked green beans, soft banana and pear, Apple stew, Spinach and tomato soup. Other cooked vegetables and fruits may now be coarser in texture.
- Meat and alternatives- 1 serving.
Meat, fish, pulses may be coarsely pureed. Chopped hard cooked egg may be used as finger foods.
1. Introduce lumpy foods by 6-7 months
2. Introduce feeding from the cup.
3. Encourage different textures and stronger tastes.
4. Food should not be salted or sweetened
5. Encourage a savoury preference to sweet
Some meals to try:
Breakfast: porridge of rice or suji (rava) or nachni or dahlia or mashed banana
Lunch: minced chicken with vegetables and potato or khichri (gruel of rice and dal with vegetables and potato) or soft ripe peeled pear or apple.
Dinner: mashed boiled sweet potato with carrots with cauliflower.
|Stage3: From 9-12 months|
|- Continue 500-600ml-breast milk or infant milk formula daily.
- Dairy products: To continue to use cows milk to mix with solids. Hard cheese used as finger foods.
- Starchy foods: 3-4 servings daily
May be normal adult texture.
- Vegetables and fruits: 3-4 servings
Encourage lightly cooked or raw foods. Chopped or finger foods is suitable, e.g. pear, apple, chickoo, banana and melon.
- Meat and alternatives: to try mixture of different vegetables and starchy foods, dal and rice or rice and chicken or rice cheese.
Some meals to try:
- Nachni khir
- Rice khir
- Sooji halwa/upma
- Boiled egg and bread finger
- Stewed apple with curd/yoghurt
- Mashed banana with milk
- Spinach curry or spinach and tomato soup
- Mashed rice with yoghurt/curds
- Mixed seasonal vegetables soup (carrot, spinach, tomato, lauki (bottle gourd/dudhi) and potato
- Stewed fruits with custard.
- Same as for lunch
|After 1 year|
|Minimum of 350 ml milk daily or 2 servings of dairy products e.g. curd, paneer.
- Dairy products: Whole cows milk may be now used as a drink.
- Starchy foods: minimum 4 servings daily.
- Vegetable and fruits: minimum 4 servings daily
Remember: Your child may now take almost all that you cook for your regular meals.
Hints for successful weaning:
|- Allow plenty of time for feeding, particularly at first.
- Choose time of the day when you both are relaxed.
- Start with small amounts of food and more frequently
- Introduce new foods mixed with familiar foods
- Try not to get upset if your baby refuses food. Take the food away and try again later. Go at your baby's pace.