Parenting 101: What should be a baby’s first diet after baby-led weaning?  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
In a nuclear family setup, where a mother doesn’t have any help, baby-led weaning is a good method of weaning the baby from breastfeeding. Under this method, a child is allowed to explore his/her food and self-feed from the age of six months. The process not only makes your child an independent eater but also allows the baby to be a less fussy eater with full control over how much to eat when the child grows up. Because of this, BLW is a popular weaning method in western counties. But some are of the opinion that it often leads to a lack of nutrition in the child. So, it’s crucial that parents should understand the nutritional needs of their child as they grow up. In this article, Dr Ramani Ranjan, Pediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida, shares insights on how to begin weaning for your baby, and the correct way to do so.
It’s said that the growth and development of the baby’s brain are highest in the first 2 years of life and therefore body needs all kind of nutrients in optimal amounts for proper development. According to WHO, weaning should be started from 6 months onwards. After 6 months, the baby’s brain development would need nutrition more than what breast milk could offer. If the complementary foods are not introduced after six months then the growth of the baby may falter. A baby shows a few common signs when they are ready to accept solid food alongside mothers’ milk.
- Holding their head firm and sitting with support
- Coordination among eye, mouth and hands
- Capability to swallow food and sometimes spill it out too.
How you can start the procedure of baby-led weaning
It’s essential that while introducing the complimentary food to the infant, parents should analyze the portion and textures. They should initially avoid food which could be complex for the child to have it no matter how nutritious it could be. Don’t fret over the issue that if the baby is initially not consuming solid food because they are getting the nutrients from the mother’s milk. Breast milk acts as a bridge till the baby is fully dependent on home-based food and breastfeeding is therefore recommended till 2 years of age.
Parents should ideally introduce small amounts of home-cooked food to a six-month-old infant in a puree form or well-mashed form and can gradually increase the quantity as the child gets older. This also inculcates spoon-feeding in the child. When the baby becomes 8-9 months old, they should be graduated to mashed food or granular form. Adding granular foods to a baby’s diet enables baby to develop different tastes and textures.
Some ideal starter foods could be:
- Sweet potatoes
- Mashed banana, beans
- Oranges without inner skin
- Steamed Carrots and apples
When the baby starts chewing the granular food it helps in the development of speech. Including baby in family mealtime also helps to establish a liking towards foods and babies tend to learn the act of chewing form parents. At 1 year of age, most babies are able to tolerate most home-based food items. Parents should refrain from offering foods that babies cannot chew initially because of tender gums and can eventually obstruct baby’s airway such as certain raw foods, round-shaped or coin-shaped foods and sticky foods.
Weaning is mostly baby directed process and it’s important to avoid forced feeding as it may lead to food aversion.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.