Kauvery Hospital | Patient Newsletters | Weaning

What Is Weaning?

Weaning is the process of changing an infant's diet from milk to solid foods and other liquids. This is a critical part of the developmental process as it is where the foundation of healthy eating and dietary habits are laid and also where the baby learns how to use a spoon, to chew food and then to swallow it. In due course, the food the child eats will provide all the nutrition that he or she needs. Weaning also plays a role in getting the child to accept new flavors and textures that it has not experienced before.

When Should You Start?

There is no hard and fast rule for this. Generally, a child should be ready for weaning when it is 6 months old. Look for the following signs that the child is ready for weaning:

  • It sits up and holds its head steady
  • It picks up things and places them in its mouth
  • It shows interest in the food adults are eating
  • It starts swallowing when food is offered

How Long Does Weaning Take?

Once again, there are no set rules for this. Some children become used to eating solids very quickly and look forward to it while others it may take longer to develop a taste for the new textures and flavors. Do not worry if your child takes time to accept the change of diet - every child is different and whether the process of weaning is fast or slow is of no consequence. Be patient and keep working on the weaning process until the baby is comfortable with it.

Baby Led Weaning

This is an interesting concept that may suit some babies. It means allowing the baby to feed itself from the very beginning of the weaning process. It can begin with soft finger foods the baby can pick up, hold and put in its mouth and progress till the child is able to hold a spoon to place small amounts of mashed food in its mouth.

Coughing And Spitting Are Normal

Start weaning with soft smooth-textured foods as these will be easy for the baby to swallow. Learning to swallow is natural but it takes some practice. Do not worry if the baby coughs or spits out food. It is part of the natural gag reflex that happens when food is difficult to swallow.

Do Not Stop Milk

In the early stages of weaning continue with the milk as it will remain the baby's main source of nutrition. Over time there will be a natural shift to more solid foods and less milk.

*** Things To Remember ***

  • Do not give honey to a child younger than 6 months as it can cause botulism.
  • Do not give cow's milk to a child below the age of 1 year.
  • Use a small spoon to feed the baby. It is easy to put in the mouth and the quantity is manageable.
  • Stick to the same food for 3 days at a stretch. This will allow you to watch for any allergies that may develop. If the child is comfortable, you can move on to another food.
  • Avoid foods with added sugar and/or salt.
  • Do not give the baby foods that could cause choking like pieces of raw apple, raw vegetables, dry fruits, popcorn, candies, etc.

Help Is At Hand

Weaning is a natural and normal process, but it can be stressful for both the mother and child. The doctors at the Pediatrics Department of Kauvery Hospital are available for counseling and advice on weaning and other issues affecting the well-being and growth of your child.

Article by Dr. Pushkala.M.S.
MBBS, MD (Paediatrics), PGDID (UNSW-Australia)
Consultant Paediatrician, Kauvery Hospital

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