What is weaning?
Weaning is a significant step for Indian babies while growing up, as it is the process where the baby stops feeding from the mother and is slowly introduced to solid foods. The word weaning itself denotes the passage from one habit or attachment to another. The onset of the process is marked when the baby, for the first time intakes food apart from the mother’s breast. The importance of weaning in Indian babies is discussed further in detail below.
When to wean your baby?
Many people wonder what is the right time to wean your baby. The World Health Organisation recommends that every baby be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, post which safe and nutritious solid food be introduced to the baby with simultaneous breastfeeding until 2 years. Ideally it is recommended to introduce runny, semi-solid nutritious food like mashed vegetables to 6 month old babies to support their nutritional requirements. However, in India a significant portion of women, especially in rural areas, practice extended exclusive breastfeeding of upto 8-12 months. This practice might severely impair the baby’s nutritional requirements resulting in infant malnutrition. This is a major reason why the importance of weaning in Indian babies needs to be highlighted. Get an online consultation with a pediatrician to know the right time to weaning your baby.
Why is it important to wean your baby?
The author of The Baby Book, William and Martha Sears equates the process of weaning to a fruit ripening and ready to leave the vine. Similarly, it is like a graduation for the baby from one source of food to another. Each baby is unique in the sense of their willingness to wean. While some babies will readily wean in 6-8 months, some babies can take upto a year or two. Total weaning or forcing the child to stop from breastfeeding is not recommended by doctors. Do an online consultation with a trusted paediatrician for more advice on it and to further understand the importance of weaning in Indian babies.
This transformation is necessary as the baby’s nutritional requirements and appetite expands after 6 months. In India the common solid foods introduced to babies during weaning are rice with milk and ghee, boiled potatoes, mashed pulses, dal and soft fruits. Weaning at the right time not only provides the baby high level nutrition but also improves hand, jaw and tongue coordination when the child tries to eat and chew its own food. Familiarising them to eat with their own hands or colorful spoons along with different solid foods, boosts their confidence, experimental skills and leads to personality development. It is at this stage that the baby develops likes and dislikes towards particular foods.
To avoid weaning conflict, give yourself and your baby ample time to ease into the process. Introduce healthy fruits and vegetables that are easy-going on your baby’s digestive system and gradually embrace the weaning process! To get personalised advice on weaning and breastfeeding, do an online consultation now.