Mothers wait for so many months and finally, the little one arrives. This special period is full of joy and excitement which the mother cannot express in words. Weaning is the introduction of semisolid and solid food (breastfeeding continues) and this is a period when the baby is ready to explore the world of food. This period is exciting as well as difficult for the mother as they have many questions in their mind about when to start weaning, what is the best food for their baby and the never-ending list. Mothers always express their love and care to the little ones through food. Feeding their little ones strengthens the bond between the mother and the baby. In India, many communities celebrate this occasion as ‘annaprashan’. This period is very important and it is necessary to supply all vitamins and minerals through diet because maximum growth and development take place during this period. The body weight increases to 2 times at 5 months and the brain size also increase during this period.
Mommies always want to give their babies the best.
Here are important guidelines which will help the mothers and decrease their worries:
The most important point to keep in mind is ‘HYGIENE’. Babies are very sensitive and more prone to infections that is why special care should be taken. The baby is completely dependent on the mother and it is important for the mother to maintain the hygiene.
When a mother prepares food for her little one she doesn’t only add the food ingredients but she also adds a lot of love, blessings and care, along with this she also should maintain HYGIENE AND SAFETY levels
- Mommies are always excited to prepare food for their little ones but during this, they should not forget to wash their hands with soap or hand wash before preparing.
- Your little one always has lovely and colourful bottles, bowls and spoons in which they eat their yummy meals prepared by their mommies and it is very important to keep these things sparkling clean. Bottles, bowls, spoons should be washed with hot water and wiped dry with the help of a napkin. The napkin should not be used for any other purpose. This method is called ‘sterilization’
- Long pretty nails are what every woman needs but I am sure you will cut them short when you come to know this fact that long nails are a source of germs and bacteria for your little baby.
- It would be best if those pretty pieces of jewellery like rings remain in the cupboard while preparing meals for your little ones. Rings and chains can be a source of bacteria and germs and it is best not to wear while preparing meals.
- All the mommies always want to give the best food to their babies and this best will come if mommies give their babies freshly prepared foods. Foods that are freshly prepared have more bright colours, they have a fresh taste and most important one they are free from bacteria.
WHEN TO START?
- It is the most confusing question for all the mothers. When to start? What should be given? What should be avoided?
- It is best to exclusively breastfeed for first six months. If the breast milk is less or the baby is on formula milk then four months is the right time.
- The ideal time to start semisolid food is when the baby is ready to sit up, swallow and eat ant taste other food.
- The baby’s stomach is ready to digest food and the baby has a good appetite and accepts food readily and there is more activity in the child.
Signs of hunger:
- Smacking or licking lips or crying
- Opening and closing mouth
- Sucking on lips, tongue, hands, fingers, toes, toys, or clothing
- Trying to position for nursing, either by lying back or pulling on your clothes
- Hitting you on the arm or chest repeatedly
- Moving head frantically from side to side
What to give?
- Fruits: diluted apple juice, non-acidic juices like pear, peach, thin puree of these fruits can be made after stewing the fruits
- In cereals: rice water, dal water, puree of rice and dal
- Vegetables: non-gas forming vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, well boiled green peas, French beans in a thin puree.
How much to give?
- Start with 2 teaspoons per meal (Start with 1 meal only) along with 800 ml of breast milk. If your child is comfortable with it and seems to enjoy the new taste it can be interesting gradually from 1 to 3 meals.
- When your little one is 4-5 months old it is best to give only clear liquids and can have clear liquids + pureed foods.
METHOD OF PREPARATION:
Kanji is a mother’s all-time favourite recipe. It is simple and quick to prepare and a healthy option. It is the best food when the baby has diarrhoea (loose motions) as it prevents dehydration and maintains electrolyte balance.
- Soak the rice overnight.
- It should be dried in sun or roasted on a pan/tawa and grind it into powdered form
- Now in a pan add this powder and water. (as mentioned above for each age group)
- Cook well and strain.
B. APPLE/PEAR JUICE:
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But this is one fruit babies have trouble digesting in its raw from till they are 6 months old. So, apple/ pear juice is a wonderful way of introducing apples/pears to your baby’s diet.
- Boil water (as mentioned above for each age group) in a pan.
- Add it to the apples and keep aside for 10 minutes.
- Strain it to obtain the juice.
- Serve lukewarm.
C: DAL WATER (MOONG/MASOOR):
This is a nourishing food and an ideal one to start with as its texture is similar to that of breast milk. The water has been strained as babies cannot digest whole cereals and pulse before the age of 6 months. It is best to give it unstrained after your little one is 6 months old.
- Soak the dal in water and pressure cook it in ½ cup of water for 2 whistles.
- Add an additional 1/2 cup of water to the cooked dal and liquidise it in a blender.
- Strain the cooked dal and serve.
D. STEWED APPLE/PEAR:
As the baby is now 6 months old he can be given stewed apple or pear but the consistency should be very thin. This is another very interesting way of adding fruits to your baby’s diet.
- Peel and grate the apple/pear
- In a pan add the grated apple/pear and add water.
- Cook till the fruit is completely cooked.
- Strain it and serve.
If your baby isn’t keen on any new taste you offer them, simply give them another go at a later date. It can sometimes take up to 10-15 attempts for your baby to accept a new food, so keep preserving! As your little one grows and changes, so will their taste in food.
FACT TIME (DID YOU KNOW?)
- Babies push their tongue out for milk and therefore they might push the first few tastes of solid food back out until they realise what to do.
- Your baby may love being introduced to solid food, and then again, they may not.
- Try giving your baby a taste of foods a few times a day to get them into a routine and used to solids.