Weaning your Little One

Weaning is the introduction of any food other than the breast milk or bottle feed that the baby has been taking from birth and can be done between 3 to 4 months of age.

It is ideal to start with orange juice when the baby has completed 3 months of age. Try and avoid sour oranges and see that it is well diluted, one part of orange juice to 3 parts of water with a little sugar. Taste it yourself. It should be mild and pleasant to taste. Do remember that orange juice is not a substitute for milk. As it is mainly water, it should be given between 2 milk feeds. Please use boiled and cooled water and a clean sterile bottle. Musambi (sweet lime) can also be used.

In the beginning the baby may take 1 - 2 tsp. of it but this can be increased within a week, to 50 ml and then to 100 ml. After a month or so the concentration of juice to water can be increased to 1:2 or 1:1. If the child is not showing any revulsion or allergic reaction, it can be given in all seasons. If the weather is cold, use lukewarm water to mix the juice. Hot water will destroy Vit C. One of the Vitamins that milk lacks significantly is Vit C, which is important for healthy growth, resistance to infection and improving iron absorption. Therefore, fruit juice rich in Vit C such as orange and musambi is usually the first thing to be started for the baby.

Multi vitamin drops like must be given from 4 months to 1 year. Also expose the child regularly to morning sunlight so that Vitamin D is formed in their body.

To meet the increased calorie needs from the 3rd or 4th month a cereal and milk porridge type of preparation is to be started. Rice is the safest choice as it has been seen to be easily accepted by children and not causing any irritation or allergy in babies. One level tsp. of roasted rice powder can be mixed in 100ml-diluted cow's milk and cooked to a gruel or porridge on a slow fire. More milk may be added if it is too thick and sugar for taste. This can be spooned into the baby's mouth little by little. Gradually increase the quantity as per the requirement of the baby.

If you would prefer a commercial brand you may go for a rice based cereal which already contains milk and you have to add only warm water. There is no harm in using the so-called commercial foods as it is safe, clean and convenient. Follow the instructions and quantities prescribed on the packet or container. Please introduce this as a breakfast feed around 8 or 9 am and continue all other milk feeds. Water must be introduced with the cereal feed. Spoon a few teaspoons into the baby's mouth after the feed.

When the baby is 4 or 5 months, and can hold up her head, allow her to sip water from a small narrow cup (e.g. the cap of a feeding bottle.) This prevents water from spilling. Avoid water in a feeding bottle. The baby must be trained to drink water from a glass from this stage. The water must be boiled and cooled.

Mashed banana can be introduced in small quantities when the baby is 5 or 6 months old. Mash thoroughly with a fork and spoon small amount of this into the baby’s mouth. Banana again, is not a substitute for a milk feed or a meal. It should be given in between two feeds, e.g. at 11am or 4pm.

Ragi porridge may be introduced at breakfast instead of the rice cereal after 6 months of age. Sieve coarse ragi powder and using the fine powder make a gruel of it with water and milk, add a little sugar or jaggery for taste. A 6-month-old baby is also ready for lunch. Well cooked rice with a little dhal and vegetables like potato and carrot can be mashed with a fork and made into a semisolid. Start with a couple of teaspoons of this at lunch everyday(strictly avoid grinding the food in the mixi). At this stage the baby is ready for mashed food. Continue the milk feed at this time soon after the few spoons of rice.

As the intake of rice increases, reduce the quantity of milk. Please avoid adding additional ghee or butter to the baby's meal. It is very taxing to the baby's digestive system and should be strictly avoided till 9 months of age.

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