What is a Weaning Diet - Different Weaning Foods to Introduce
What is Weaning?
Weaning is known as the time when a mother stops feeding her child breast milk and switches her baby to other types of foods such as infant formula. The Department of Health has issued clear guidelines which have stated that the ‘weaning period’ starts when the child is 6 months old. However, the introduction of other foods such as specially prepared solid foods does not mean that milk should be eliminated from the baby’s diet. Milk and infant formulas are vital for the baby since they help meet the nutrient requirements of their growing body.
When to Start Weaning?
The weaning period is very important for the baby and requires a lot of patience from the parent’s side. According to the Department of Health’s guidelines, weaning should not be started before the baby is six months old. There are several reasons why a baby can’t be weaned before 6 months of age;
- The baby does not have the appropriate enzymes which are needed to digest different types of foods.
- The kidneys can only cope with milk at that stage.
- Children of this age have still not developed the coordination and posture required for swallowing food.
- Babies who are given food at an early age are at risk of becoming overweight.
As mentioned previously, the ideal time to start weaning is when the child is 6 months old. The grounds for this are;
- The babies have developed the coordination and posture required for swallowing food.
- Babies need Iron, at this time the baby starts running out of the iron supplies they were born with.
- Babies start showing signs that they are ready to test new kinds of food.
- Babies start teething at this stage and want to bite into food for relief.
Once the baby is 6 months old he/she is ready to be introduced to weaning food. This is the time when the baby is willing to try new things. You can introduce the baby to a weaning diet that could include purees of vegetables such as potatoes and pumpkins. You even give him/her purees of fresh fruits such as apples or bananas. One of the most common weaning foods is gluten free cereals; these are iron fortified and provide the child with the nutrients he/she requires.
Note: It is advised not to start your child with sweet vegetables and fruits – they will not like other veggies and fruits in comparison. Hence, even though we have mentioned apples and bananas, it would be wise to get your baby started on something less sweet.
As the child grows older, he/she will learn to chew soft food. This is the time when you can introduce new foods such as purees of meat, lentils, mixed vegetable and poultry. You can even include cream cheese, full cream milk and custards in the weaning diet.
7 to 9 Months
This is the time when the baby has the ability to enjoy a wider variety of foods. This is when the nutritional requirement of a child starts growing. This is when you can introduce the child to a new weaning diet. You can start giving the child mashed food rather than purees. You can include starchy food such as cereals, oats, rich and potatoes in the weaning diet. The child should be given fresh food and vegetables such as oranges, sweet lime, carrots and green beans. Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt can also be given.
This is the time when the child’s weaning diet should be somewhat similar to an adult’s diet. You can include foods such as meat, well cooked eggs, rice, potatoes, cheese, yogurt and nuts in the daily diet of the child.
Foods that Should not be Included in the Weaning Diet
There are some foods which should not be included in the weaning diet until the child is at least 1 years old. The reason for each food varies; Salt should not be included since the baby’s kidneys cannot cope with salt accurately. Goat’s and cow’s milk should not be included either. Other foods such as Artificial sweeteners, Tea and Coffee should be avoided completely.