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When is the right time to start weaning?

Weaning is not about charts or time. Weaning is about readiness. So, a gradual shift from breast milk to supplementary feeds is always advised.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) both recommend exclusive breast feeding for the first six months (180 days), after which you can introduce supplementary feeds gradually along with breast feeding till the age of one year.

Most paediatricians also follow the weaning patterns suggested by WHO and UNICEF. But, depending on individual needs, some paediatricians might recommend weaning foods by the end of sixth month (i.e., after 5 1/2 months). You can definitely go ahead with your paediatrician’s recommendations as all babies are not the same. Your paediatrician is the best person to know about your baby's nutritional needs. Babies are also a good guide of readiness. When you see babies putting things in their mouth, showing interest when others eat, demanding more frequent feeds, or being restless at night, it might signal the time to start weaning.

Remember to start additional supplementary feeds at the appropriate time because research shows that babies who are weaned later have a harder time adjusting to weaning.

Weaning your Baby

What to Start with?

Weaning is a period of experiments, both for you and your baby. It is really a matter of trial and error to find out what is best for your baby. Most paediatricians advise weaning gradually over a period of time beginning with home-cooked foods using fresh ingredients as these are healthy and easily-digestible for your little one.

Starting off…

When you initiate your baby to weaning, the question uppermost in your mind will be — "What and how much to start with?" Well, the answer to this one is simple. Start with anything that is healthy and easily-digestible and let your baby guide you about the quantity she is ready for.

It is usual to start with half to one teaspoon of a cereal water like rice or even dal water, and to gradually increase the quantity to about half a cup. Both liquid and semi-solid supplements can be introduced to your baby's diet at seven months. Try Moong Dal Water or Rice Water. Start with one or two additional feeds each day, during the first month of weaning. Gradually, as the number of supplementary feeds increase, the interval between breast feeds will also increase.

Be patient…

Your little one may really enjoy this treat and begin to show signs of savouring the first taste of real food. However, it is also possible that she may take some time getting used to newer foods. Some babies adapt to weaning quicker while others may be fussy for a while before they adjust. You will have to be patient during this period. Introduce your baby to weaning gradually and lovingly, making it a pleasurable experience both for you and your precious one. Do not force your baby to eat foods she does not want to eat. It is not unusual for babies to react badly or be allergic to some foods, so watch your baby's reactions closely when you introduce a new food.

The best time to introduce supplementary foods is during the daytime, when your baby is fresh and also hungry. If she is not hungry, she will not accept any new food and even become cranky. So, feeding during the day will save both you and your little one an uncomfortable night as digestion is easier earlier during the day than in the latter half.

Start by offering one food at a time and continue this for a couple of days before trying something new. This way, if your baby does have any adverse reaction to a particular food, you will know the likely culprit.

Do it yourself…

It is recommended that you feed your baby yourself till she is one year old. This will give you exclusive personal time with your little one and strengthen the maternal bond of love. This is the most important time for nurturing your precious one. You will soon be adept at feeding your baby and this time spent together will be precious for both of you.

Always hold your baby comfortably on your lap in an upright position while feeding. This will make swallowing easier for your baby and also prevent choking on foods. A small, rounded spoon with a long handle is the safest means to feed your baby as it will not injure her mouth or gums. Put a small portion of food on the spoon and gently place it on your baby's tongue. If she likes it, you will hear a swallow and if not, you'll see a splatter!

This section has a collection of interesting recipes like Banana and Papaya Puree, Beetroot and Carrot Soup, which will make weaning a fruitful and smooth exercise for you and your baby.

Pulao is usually associated with rice. Here, i have tried to make a different kind of pulao using bulgur wheat ....