Most doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, followed by a combination of breastfeeding and solid food initiation before your infant turns one year old. 1 The decision to wean your baby is, though, a personal one, and it is entirely up to you.
Although some women begin weaning as soon as possible to return to work, others can wait until their children are toddlers to completely wean. When it comes to weaning, often the mother decides when to begin, and other times the baby does.
Every child is special, and each tolerates weaning in their way. Weaning is easy for some babies. They could enjoy using a spoon to try new foods and learning how to use a cup. Others remain stubborn about not avoiding breastfeeding and refuse to eat from a bottle or some other outlet. It can either be a smooth transition or a very stressful one.
You can also plan to begin weaning only to learn that neither you nor your child is fully ready. That’s fine. You can still change your mind later and try again, or try partial weaning. Weaning, like breastfeeding, does not appear to be an all-or-nothing proposition.
The Different Types of Weaning
There are a variety of weaning approaches and forms available; choose the one that is better for you and your baby:
- Weaning by the infant: Occasionally a baby will avoid breastfeeding on his own. Young babies, on the other hand, barely wean themselves. True self-weaning occurs after an infant has reached the age of a year.
- Gradual weaning: Gradual weaning is a form of weaning that takes a long time. It occurs over weeks, months, or years.
- Partial weaning: If you can’t breastfeed completely but don’t want to avoid breastfeeding entirely, partial weaning is a fantastic choice.
- Sudden weaning: Sudden weaning is the abrupt cessation of breastfeeding.
Tips for successful baby weaning!
- Gagging is normal, to begin with: Your kid would most likely vomit. Quite a little. Babies have an excellent automatic gag reflex, which allows them to transfer food that has travelled too far to the back of their mouths back to the front, preventing choking. While they will have a strange face and make a gagging expression, if you wait a few minutes, you may find that your baby is an expert at this and it will not choke. At six months of age, babies are behaviorally able to eat soft solid finger foods, so it’s impossible that he or she will choke on food. However, you can also take a child CPR/first aid course just in case (and for peace of mind). If you freak out when your child gags, your child would do the same. So remember to be patient and encouraging. You’ll soon get the hang of it.
- Plan baby-friendly meals: Since a baby’s kidneys aren’t mature enough to tolerate a lot of salt or sugar, keep this in mind when baking and cooking food. Set aside any of your cooked food for your baby before seasoning or spicing it. Make one patty plain for your kid before seasoning homemade hamburgers or scooping out some of your stir-fried meat and vegetables before applying your stir-fry sauce. Know that when it comes to whether to feed your infant, the same laws apply to baby-led weaning as they do to spoon-feeding. While there is no fixed order in which various foods should be introduced, it is critical to start with iron-rich foods
- Do a little out of the box thinking: You may be tempted to smash your baby’s food into teeny-tiny bits to avoid choking. Unfortunately, when they are about eight to nine months old, infants lack the fine motor abilities to pick up little bits of food and hold them to their mouths (or older). This is why it’s important to create food bits for babies that are big enough for them to grasp. A homemade potato wedge, a mini egg muffin (whisk an egg with grated vegetables and cheddar cheese in a muffin tin and bake in a muffin tin), or a pear slice (peeled) are all examples of suitably sized food. A slice of whole-grain toast slathered with butter and sliced into thick strips will also suffice.
- Go with what works for you and your baby: Your baby may enjoy self-feeding from the beginning, but there may be times when she prefers to be spoon-fed (perhaps when teething). It’s perfectly natural for your baby to refuse a snack, spit it out, or throw it away. It can take up to 20 exposures for a baby to consider a diet, so continue to reintroduce the food gently. Include the baby in family meals (this is one of the benefits of baby-led weaning) and feed him or her the same foods as the rest of the family (assuming it is soft enough and unseasoned).
- Embrace the mess: There would be a lot of mess if you don’t use a spoon. Make plans ahead of time and embrace the mess. Buy bibs to catch crumbs, high chairs that are easy to scrub, and splash pads. Make a mealtime schedule such that coping with the chaos would not get stressed. Dress them in soft baby overalls and use a soft baby muslin wrap when you are trying to wipe their mouth to avoid irritation.
- After the meal, you can need to give your child a mini shower, or if I’m being honest, several times. Skin and behind the ears get clogged with food. You’ll be more patient and ready to embark down the baby-led weaning path until you’ve psychologically planned for something.
AUTHOR’S BIO: I am Lana Murpy, a post-graduate in humanities and communications, and an inquisitive person who loves writing. My forte is a digital marketing and everything that has to do with phones and screens. I’m working for Tiny Twig. I am someone who believes that one person can make a change and that’s precisely why I took up writing which is the best tool to communicate these days. I have a decade of experience in writing and marketing.