Different communities have different
cultural beliefs regarding the introduction of foods in the childs diet i.e.weaning
process. In many families, introduction of semi-solid food is associated with a religious
ceremony commonly known as "Anna Prashna". Our elders knew that if a child were
not introduced to non-sweet items soon enough, it would pose problems later, designating a
ceremony for this ensures that this is started. We have to avail of this practice to
propagate the introduction and continuation of additional food for young infants. In cases
where such practices don't exist parents and elders in the family need to be educated
about the risk of delaying weaning and they can be persuaded to give other foods such as
fruits, vegetables and pulses.
This is the task we are happily performing
by telling you how to make food attractive, appealing and acceptable to your little
darling. You are invited to send in your experiences about weaning foods and practices
helping other mothers like you.
AND HOW TO START?
When and how do I start weaning
The first semi-solid foods are normally
introduced at four to five months of age. It is important to make this transition to
semi-solid foods an enjoyable one. The amount of food offered and swallowed in the
beginning is a teaspoon or so.
Patience is needed when babies are first
introduced to semi-solids. While they are learning to eat this way, they may often spit
out the food this does not mean that they dislike the food or are not hungry. It is
normal for your baby to bring the food out, as the ability to swallow develops very
Infants enjoy this transition, if the food
is not forced and the mother is relaxed at the time of feeding. Infants accept the food
better, if not distracted by other activities while feeding. Try to have flexible feeding
schedules. These are based on signs of hunger in your baby rather than on fixed hours of
feeding. After the first few weeks, a healthy infant will develop a self-regulated feeding
schedule. The number of total feeds a day will usually reduce to about six by the time the
infant is six months of age.
QUALITIES OF WEANING FOODS
What are the desirable qualities of Additional
Breast milk is the only "standard" food for the infant. At the onset,
with the infant still predominantly breast-fed, weaning foods are used as an additional
source of energy as well as to satisfy the increasing requirements for all essential
nutrients. Particular attention should be paid to proteins, iron, vitamin A and C, as
these are frequently found to be deficient in the diet of young infants.
Keep in mind that you are feeding an infant
with a small stomach capacity that has been used to liquid
Desirable Qualities of Weaning (Additional)
- Should have high energy content
- Should be easy to digest
- Should be semi-solid in consistency
- Should not be too thick
- Should be fresh and clean
- Should not be expensive and should be easy to prepare
GUIDELINES DURING WEANING
Stomach capacity has never been given much
importance while telling a mother how to feed her baby. This results in mothers either
force feeding or getting unnecessarily worried about baby not taking enough.
The stomach capacity (4 6 months):
86 -130 ml (17 26 tsp.)
We offer few guidelines to help you wean
your darling child better.
What points should be considered
while introducing weaning foods?
- Introduce only one food at a time to permit the infant to get used to it.
- Allow the infant to become familiar with the food before trying to give another.
- Give very small amounts of any new food at the beginning, 1-4 tsp.
- Use a very thin consistency when starting solid foods. Gradually the consistency is made
more solid as the infant learns how to propel the food back with the help of tongue.
- If, after several trials, that baby has an acute dislike for a food, omit that item for
a week or two and then try again. If the dislike persists it is better to forget about the
food for a while and substitute another.
- Food should be only slightly seasoned.
- Child should be encouraged to try new flavors.
- Infants may object to taking some foods by themselves but will take them willingly if
when one mixed with another, e.g. egg may be mixed with formula, cereal or vegetable.
Vegetables may sometimes be made accustomed to the new flavor.
- Variety in choice of foods is important.
- The mother or anyone feeding the infant must be careful to avoid showing in any way a
dislike for a food that is being given.
- A babys appetite varies a lot from meal to meal and day to day. During hot weather
suffering from cold the childs appetite may be less.
- The quantity of each feed should be increased as the number decreases.
Supplementary feeding should be started at
- Shallow spoon should be used to allow the baby to suck.
- Food should not be forced on the baby
- The aim is to expose the baby to a large variety of foods/ tastes.
- By 6 months of age, your baby will generally accept foods 2 3 times/day.
- The foods should be of a thin enough consistency (smooth puree) to allow baby to suck.
- Salt should not be added or added sparingly to weaning food as the child may get used to
- Sugar should be used sparingly as :
- May get used to sweet foods and refuse
other foods later.
- May lead to excessive weight gain,
(therefore unsweetened cereals/curds should be encouraged.)
- Familiarity of foods earlier on will prevent rejection later.
- Homemade foods are encouraged as:
- Familiarity with common foods
- Early integration with family diet
- Prevents over dependence