One of the most important phase in a mom’s life is when her baby is ready to be weaned off. This is for most mommies is often a cause of some stress and for some an excitement. For first time mommies, its a little bit of both.
Today in this blog post, I am going to share my hands on experience that might help many first time mommies whose babies are about to cross 6 months mark. However, milk should remain the primary source of food until one year of age.
These 6 months will give you enough time to test different kinds of food textures with your baby, the method you want to choose and for introducing new tastes.
First let’s understand what does “weaning off baby” and “baby-led weaning” means. Weaning off in both terms basically means the same, i.e. transitioning your kid towards solid foods/introducing solids into your baby’s diet and reducing the milk intake. With baby-led weaning, you let your baby take the first step on his/her own, giving them the food to eat on their own rather than spoon feeding. Whichever way you chose to do it, keep in mind that it won’t have any or very little effect on how fussy they will become or how much they will enjoy food.
How to start off?
Purees are always a good start since its easy to digest and no chewing is required. Start with one vegetable/one fruit puree one time a day. Choose the time of the day that works best for you. I chose the morning time because I thought it would be safer to try new food during the day than to give a solid food at night to avoid any kind of stomach sickness or colic problems. Also starting off with solids in the morning/day will also help baby to understand the concept of breakfast or lunch timings
Continue the same vegetable or fruit for 4 to 5 days to make sure your baby is not allergic to it. Introduce another flavor after every 3 to 4 days atleast.
After a month, you can mix two fruits together and blend it to make a puree for eg. Mango and banana, oats and banana or whatever is available with you. Same goes with vegetables like potato and carrot, rice and peas, rice and any lentil, potato with broccoli etc etc.
Keep on mixing and trying new flavors with your baby to make sure he or she develops a taste for every vegetable or fruit that’s comes into your home. Don’t be afraid of trying out new flavours because the worst that could happen is that your baby will throw it out but the best that will happen is that baby will develop a taste of variety of foods overtime.
DO NOT ADD SUGAR OR SALT FOR BABIES LESS THAN 1 YEAR OLD. Since they don’t know the taste of sugar or salt at the first place so they won’t be bothered by it unless you introduce it to them. For sweetness, you can try to add dates.
Try not to force feed your baby since your baby will be disliking some taste and will develop a likeness to some which is completely normal. So don’t get worried if he/she vomits or gets fussy. Avoid giving that food and try again after few weeks.
I gave solids to my kid one time a day up until he turned 7 or 8 months old. At 8 months, I started giving it two times a day, in morning and in evening. This routine continued for almost until my kid turned 18 months old. Your baby won’t get into the habit of eating solids two times a day just in a matter of over night. It will take time. So take your time. Don’t rush even if you read on google which says that by the time your baby turns one year old, he or she must be having solids three times a day. It doesn’t work that way and it won’t happen for every baby.
As I mentioned, my kid started having proper meals three times a day when he turned 1.5 year old. Even then he usually skips one meal and had milk instead.
Do include fruits atleast once during the day in a mashed form or cut it into thin slice and hand it over to your baby. Their gums are strong enough to chew on a solid food.
What basically helped me to reduce my baby milk intake?
When my kid turned 1, he was taking milk 4 times a day (210 ml each time – he was on formula milk) since solids were not enough to fill up his stomach. Slowly and steadily I started giving him solid food just before his milk time so that he doesn’t feel the need to fill his stomach with milk only. If you want your baby to eat solids as a proper meal, give it to them when they are really hungry or before their milk time.
With time, the quantity of milk will start to reduce and quantity of solid food will increased. It’s no rocket science but this is how you will actually be able to reduce the number of times your baby demands milk during the day. It reduced to three bottles (210 ml each time) up until he turned 1.5 years old then to 2 bottles (210 – 240 ml each) when he turned 2 years old.
How to develop an interest of food into your baby?
Making my kid sit with me during our meal times helped me. Whatever was in front of me, I tried to give a taste of that to him whether its spicy or not. Don’t assume that if the food is spicy your baby will reject it. Believe me, they will surprise you.This will also help them to be less fussy and picky eaters in future.
Whatever you are eating, at anytime of the day, give a taste of it to your baby. Avoid giving so much dessert or junk at this early age. I am talking about healthy diet here only.I also hand him very thin slice of carrot, apple or any hard food which he can play with or eat on his own while I have my own food.
1. Don’t worry if your kid is not already taking three meals a day once he crosses one year mark. It takes time for some babies while others can get on it quickly.
2. Try to distract your baby with a rhyme, a toy or a book.
3. Make food eating time interesting even if you have to make funny noises or sing a song.
4. When you start to wean your baby off, your routine will likely change. Set food timings from the start and stick to it. This way, your baby will know when to expect milk and when to expect other kind of food.
5. First six months will totally be a trial and error method. So if your baby refuse to eat something. Just accept it and move on. Try something new next day when your baby’s stomach is empty.
6. Give a taste of every food you normally eat during your meal time.
7. Make your baby sit with you on your dining table and give him some food at that time to develop a habit of eating together and to set food timings.
8. Invest in a good bib thats easily washable and be ready to clean up a mess.
9. Introduce different food textures with a time gap.
10. Dairy intake of your baby does not include only milk. It also include yogurt and cheese. You can cut down the quantity of milk if your baby likes to eat yogurt with his/her food.
11. Its recommended to start fresh milk once your baby turns 1 but my kid is 2 years old and still on formula because fresh milk didn’t suit him. So consult your pediatrician if you see any serious problems like constipation or iron deficiency which is common in kids who start with fresh milk.
So mommies, my advice to those who are ready to wean off their baby is to try out different food mixtures and taste at home. Somedays will be good while somedays will be frustrating but you will get there eventually. The trick is to stay calm and go with the flow.
Weaning off is a huge change for both a mom and a baby, so start doing it when you are ready to do it especially for breastfeeding moms.
Whatever I wrote above is solely based on my personal experience and I hope it proves to be helpful to those looking for some advice.
If you have any question, feel free to comment below. 😊