Beyond breastfeeding – Our senior ParentCraft educator shares the basics of weaning

Weaning is the introduction of solids to a baby’s diet. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months of age; thereafter baby can start weaning to meet evolving nutritional needs. A well balanced diet is essential for the healthy growth of a baby. By 6 months, your baby’s digestive system is more developed – baby can usually sit up and baby’s chewing ability is developed. Baby’s kidneys are also more developed to be able to get rid of solutes.

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY BABY IS READY FOR WEANING?

After six months, your baby may seem more demanding and unsatisfied after milk feeds. Baby may also show interest to try new tastes and textures other than milk, so this may be the time to introduce solids. If your baby starts showing these signs at 4 months, weaning should only be recommended by your paediatrician due to medical concerns.

In any case, different babies wean off milk at different times. The baby’s swallowing mechanism is not fully developed till around 3 months, and weaning must be done gradually and progressively.

THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND FOR WEANING

Once you start the weaning process, it is recommended to gradually decrease the amount of breast milk or formula milk and increase the amount of solids.

After your baby turns 1, the number of milk feeds usually decreases to three a day until baby is 2 to 3 years old. At this point, 30 per cent of the calories required in baby’s diet now come from solids – milk alone is not substantial enough to meet the requirements.

When it comes to foods, babies will have likes and dislikes. Always try and be ready to abandon attempts at offering new foods. If there are signs of liking and tolerating new foods, then it is time to try a new set of food.

Here are more helpful tips as you embark on the weaning process:

  • Do not force feed; let the baby lead (always consider baby’s size, weight, activities and appetite before starting solids).
  • Every baby is different – do not compare.
  • Try small amounts or spoonfuls of food.
  • Observe baby’s choking or gagging reflex.
  • Do not add cereals to milk drinks, and avoid forcing baby to water the food down.
  • Avoid gluten and shellfish.
  • Avoid salty or acidic foods, preservatives or foods with added sugar and colouring.
  • Look out for signs of allergies when you introduce new foods.
  • Be observant for rashes, wheezing and changes in bowel movement. If there is a rash, stop giving baby the potentially offending food. Observe and try again in smaller amounts to pinpoint the cause.
  • Observe baby’s reaction to new foods – introduce a set of new food to see if baby is taking to the new taste/texture and accepting it well before introducing another new set of food.
  • Encourage self-feeding.
  • Be patient and have fun!

Do not get upset if your baby is not keen on a new food. Baby may not be ready to accept it as baby has been on milk since birth. Getting upset only makes you frustrated and your baby fretful. Learn to relax, be patient and have fun despite the mess that may occur. Refer to our helpful weaning chart for the consistency and kinds of food you can introduce to baby. The weaning chart is progressive, which means that you may add the suggested foods to baby’s diet with each age milestone.

Foods to Introduce to Baby

4-6 Months

Smooth, mashed or pureed

CerealsRice Cereals

Oats

FruitsApple

Pear

Banana

Avocado

VegetablesSweet Potato

Peas

Carrots

ProteinMeat stock (brewed from high quality meat)
DairyBreast milk

+

6-9 Months

Mashed food, porridge

CerealsBarley

Brown Rice

FruitsPapaya

Prunes

Pumpkin

VegetablesBroccoli

Cauliflower

ProteinFish

Pork

Chicken

Egg yolk

DairyTofu

Yoghurt

 +

12+ Months

Small, bite-sized food

FruitsCitrus fruits
VegetablesCorn
ProteinBeef

Whole Egg