Weaning is the process of gradually introducing foods other than breast milk into the child’s feeding schedule. The growth rate in infancy being high, breast milk is not enough to meet the child’s increasing needs for energy and protein. Milk is a poor source of iron and also provides a small amount of Vitamin C. They are sufficient to meet an infant’s need until the three months of age.
Weaning should be a gradual and slow process so as to make the child adapt to the new foods. The consistency and amount of weaning foods should be slowly modified according to the increasing age of the child.
For infants around the age of 4-6 months, liquid supplements are given. These include soups, juices, and animal milk
For infants of 6-8 months, semisolid supplements which are well cooked and mashed or pureed like mashed or pureed vegetables, well cooked mashed pulses, khichri and porridge etc
For older children, solid supplements that are cooked and finely chopped or lumpy, are suitable like well-cooked pulses, vegetable khichri, stewed fruits etc.
Important points should be considered during weaning are:
- Consistency should be slowly changed from liquid to semisolid and then solid supplements.
- The amount should be gradually increased.
- Only one new food should be introduced at a time. Only when the child gets used to it, another weaning food should be introduced.
- Force feeding should be avoided if the child shows a persistent dislike for a particular food.
- Use locally available ingredients while preparing a weaning food.
- Only salt should be used for seasoning.
- Although egg yolk may be started at the age of 4-5 months, egg white should not be given until the infant is 8-9 month old as it is likely to cause allergy in some children.
- The fibre content of the weaning food should be low. Foods should be well cooked to soften the fibre.
- Highly flavoured foods should be avoided.
Most common weaning foods:
- Lentil Soup
- Vegetable Soup
- Mashed Banana with Milk
- Semolina Porridge/ Suji ki Kheer
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet/Savoury Dalia
- Vegetable Khichri
- Vermicelli Khichri
- Moong Dal Khichri
- Stewed Apple