Weaning your baby from the breast or the bottle starts at around 4-6 months as it’s time to introduce them to ‘non-milk’ foods to meet their daily dose of iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and other nutrients.

The idea of weaning is to gradually introduce them to mashed veggies, fruits, juices, rice and making your baby a part of family meals.

The need for weaning

By the time your baby turns 6 months old, breastfeeding won’t be adequate enough to meet the nutritional needs of your child, in particular to iron and vitamin C. At this age, the baby develops enzymes that would help in digesting solid foods.

Few babies may experiment with eating on their own. Encourage the baby to play with cups, spoons and get accustomed to eating solids.

Principles of weaning

Start weaning when the child is free from any disease particularly from any gastrointestinal troubles.

Try introducing one-food item at an interval of 4-7 days to learn if the baby is allergic to any food item.

Feed in small amounts, from one teaspoon to a few tablespoons, put the spoon midway back on the tongue to facilitate swallowing of semi-solid food.

Never force the infant to eat new food.

Vegetables and non-sweetened foods may be introduced before sweetened ones to reduce the tendency in developing a desire for sweets.

What are the right foods to start during weaning?

Juices

Start with clear and fresh fruit juices. Go for fruits that are available round-the-year.

Apples are generally considered the best pick. Peel an apple, cut it into small pieces, boil it in a pan. Mash the apple with a spoon or your hand and put it in a strainer. Strain out all the juice and collect it in a container.

Watery dal

cis the preferred dal of choice for infants. Cook dal in a pressure cooker, mash well and run it through a sieve.  Feed the infants a few spoons of clear dal water at a time. 

Vegetables

Potato makes a good start to introduce veggies. Ensure the potato is well boiled and mashed thoroughly.

Once your baby is seven months old try other vegetables like carrot, bottle gourd, pumpkin, tomatoes and fruits like well ripen bananas, papaya, and watermelon.

By the time baby reaches 9-12 months it’s time to introduce starchy foods like khichdi, porridges, dahlia, oats, idly and breakfast cereals well cooked.

Foods to avoid for babies under one year

Salt- Your baby's kidneys can't handle the salt yet.

Honey- Even if the baby has a cough, your baby shouldn't be given honey until one year.

Sugar- Never add sugar to baby’s food until one year. Try sweetening desserts with mashed banana or a purée of stewed dried fruit.

Whole nuts- Avoid whole nuts as they risk choking.

Raw egg or half boiled eggs to be avoided, chance of infections.

Cow's (or goat's or sheep's) milk as a main drink under one year.

Always ensure the food is at the right temperature for the baby and hygienically prepared as it helps in avoiding various infections in the infants.