Weaning

Weaning: When is baby ready for solid foods?

The transition from liquid foods (mother’s milk, artificial milk) to the first solid or semi-solid foods (such as baby food and baby food) requires the baby to get used to a new way of eating. There are some small rules that help us understand when he’s ready for this novelty and the best ways to start with baby food.

To begin weaning, the child must be able to :

  • stay in a sitting position, keeping your head still
  • coordinate eyes, hands and mouth so that you can look at the food, pick it up and put it in your mouth
  • swallow food instead of spitting it out

To remember . As recommended by the World Health Organization, weaning should be started after 6 months whether it is breastfed or bottle-fed with formula milk. The old weaning schemes from the 4th month are outdated even if still in use.

Weaning (also weaning) is the gradual transition from liquid nourishment to solid nourishment and from exclusive food (milk) to a wide range of foods with different tastes and compositions.

The amount of food introduced in the first few days of weaning doesn’t matter much: what matters is that the child slowly gets used to the idea of ​​eating .

Suckling from the breast or bottle is very different from chewing and swallowing solid foods and the baby must be accompanied in this phase without forcing it .

In the early stages of weaning he will continue to receive most of the nutrients he needs for growth from his mother’s milk or formula and therefore there is no need to worry if there is more food in the high chair than in the baby’s mouth.

The signs that tell us if the baby is ready to wean

There are 3 clear signs which, when they appear together from 6 months of age , show that the baby is ready for his first solid foods, alongside breast milk or formula milk.

  • stay in a sitting position, keeping your head still
  • coordinate eyes, hands and mouth so that you can look at the food, pick it up and put it in your mouth
  • swallow food instead of spitting it out

The following behaviors are not a valid indication to start with baby food:

  • chew fists
  • (return to) waking up during the night, when he was previously asleep
  • ask for milk more often

These are normal infant behaviors and not necessarily a signal that the baby is ready for solid food. Starting weaning also won’t make your baby more likely to sleep through the night .

If your baby was born premature, ask your pediatrician for advice on when to start weaning.

How to introduce the first solid foods

Don’t worry about how much food you eat the first few times. There will be some days when the child eats more and others when he eats less or even completely refuses to put food in his mouth.

Start with fruit , once a day when it is most congenial to you, perhaps in the morning between one feed and another.

You can use homogenized fruit or cooked vegetable puree (potatoes, carrots or zucchini) to bring the child closer not only to different tastes but also to different textures.

Each food should be introduced one at a time to verify that it does not trigger allergies.

It is important to remember that salt must not be added (read weaning and salt in baby food ) and sugar must not be added (read weaning and sugar in baby food ).

The first and second porridge in the day

If the baby is ready, you can start with the first meal (see the ingredients for the first meal ) which will replace the feeding that takes place around lunchtime.

Only when it has started well (usually 2-4 weeks later) can the second meal be introduced , the evening one.

When the child swallows and chews without problems, to help him get used to different consistencies, you can try to let him taste small pieces of food (careful they must be very small to avoid the risk of choking ).

Pieces of food

It takes children a while to get used to solid bits, but it’s an important skill they need to acquire. Continue to offer the baby very small pieces of food always and only in your presence . They can be small pieces of soft fruit or boiled vegetables that you will gradually offer to the child.

[box]Do not give whole grapes (or other round fruits) but cut them in halves or quarters.[/box]

The size of the pieces vary according to age as Jenna Helwig explains well in her books (find it on Amazon ).

At around 6 months, most babies have not yet developed the pincer grip (thumb and forefinger). So to collect the food they grab it with the whole palm. For this reason, to help them put food into their mouths, it is best to cut them into thin sticks.

At about 8-10 months  when the thumb-index grip is developed, food can be cut into small pieces, the size of chickpeas. Small round foods such as chickpeas or blueberries should be crushed slightly before giving them to the child.

Regardless of age, foods should always be soft enough to break with light pressure between thumb and forefinger. This means no raw carrots for example or tough pieces of meat.

You’ll find that babies love to pick up bits of food and put them in their mouths – this also helps develop hand and eye coordination.

To avoid food on the floor…

It’s actually impossible to avoid it, both because children’s grip is very uncertain and because, especially if they start using the spoon, it’s a lot of fun for them to use it as a catapult.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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