Welcome to the Bumps & Babes weaning calendar. In it, learn how to transition your baby from a diet of milk only, to a diet consisting mainly of solid foods. Because there are so many different opinions out there (varying by country or even by specialist!), we asked Lua Wilkinson, pediatric nutritionist from our panel of experts, to help!
We asked her the following questions:
When should I start?
When to start weaning is a personal decision between you and your baby. Until 6 months, your baby only needs breastmilk or infant formula as a nutrition source. In fact, babies younger than 6 months do not need water, juice, or other foods at all. Weaning often begins naturally at 6 months, when you start to introduce solid foods, but can be initiated by mom or baby before or after. Weaning should be carried out in such a way that your child does not get upset, and you do not suffer from engorgement.
How should I do it?
Take the weaning process slowly, and don't try to rush it (for you and your baby's sake). Eliminate one breastfeeding session a day, and do this every 2-3 days. This should help prevent discomfort due to engorgement, and is also good for your baby. Start by offering a few spoonfuls of food, a few times a day, to get them used to the idea. The child may not like the thicker consistency of food, so adding breastmilk or infant formula can help ease the transition from liquid to solid. Allow your child a wide range of foods to taste and try. Children tend to be more attached to the first and last feeding of the day, when the need for comfort is greater, so dropping the midday session first may be easier. When eliminating a session, avoid sitting in your usual feeding spots. Distractions such as books or toys can be utilized.
What should I introduce and when?
If you wean your child before 12 months, substitute breast milk with infant formula. The first time they are being offered a bottle, it may be helpful if another caregiver introduces the bottle (some children may refuse a bottle if the breast is available). Choose a bottle nipple with a slow flow at first.
If you have exclusively breastfed up until 6 months, the first food for your child should be an iron and zinc rich food such as red meat. (the amount will depend on your own baby, but about 1 oz a day should suffice at first). Then introduce one new food every 3-5 days, depending on how sensitive you think he or she might be to developing allergies.
Your child should be fed solid foods 2-3 times a day at age 6-8 months, and 3-4 times a day between 9-11 months, then should be put on a regular eating schedule after that (3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between).
I always steer parents away from counting every calorie their child takes in during the weaning process. This may cause undue stress and won't help the process at all. Instead, address the child's overall well being and growth. You can download the WHO growth charts for infants under 2 years of age from the CDC website.
Are there any foods I should avoid?
Prior to six months, some foods should be avoided or they may cause allergies or cause illness in your chlid. These include:
- fish or shellfish
- cows milk
- whole eggs (egg white)
Prior to 1 year, foods to avoid include:
- shark, swordfish or other predatory fish
- high fiber foods
After twelve months of age, if you think your child is at risk for developing food allergies, you should delay these foods until 1-3 years of age.
Here is a summary of what to feed your child, when:
|Approximate Age||Feeding Recommendations to Meet Nutrient Needs|
|Birth To 6 Months||
|1 year old||