Weaning

Posted in Kids Health on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 at 10:58 am    6 Responses

This is the process of accustoming a baby to a diet of solid foods which will eventually replace milk as the main source of nutrition. The process of weaning takes quite a few months, beginning when solids are first introduced and ending when a baby is on three meals a day and able to drink from a cup and use a spoon.

Breast milk and the infant’s own internal energy stores will meet most of the nutritional needs for the first six months. After six months, a baby needs more iron and other nutrients than milk alone can provide. All babies should be on some sort of solids by 8 months, as the risk of infection is higher in babies exclusively breast fed past this age.

Between four and six months babies begin to need more calories than the volume of milk which their stomachs can hold and will begin to want more frequent feeds. The early introduction of food is not intended to replace milk intake, simply to add to it. Chewing and swallowing also encourages speech development.

HOW TO WEAN

All foods should be organic or free range. It is important to wean slowly – over a period of a few months and in conjunction with a natural reduction in breast milk. This will allow time to monitor reactions to foods and reduce the risk of your baby developing an intolerance or allergy to a food.

When weaning it is useful to keep a food diary and note any reactions such as excessive sleepiness, running nose, asthmatic breathing, infection, hyperactivity, excessive thirst, unsettled behaviour, rashes, etc. Introduce foods one at a time leaving 3 or 4 days between each new food.  If there is a reaction, stop the food last introduced and see if the symptoms go away.

Stage 1 (from 4-6 months)
Food should be smooth in texture, bland in taste and contain no artificial flavourings or added salt or sugar.

The first foods tried should be:

  • Pure baby rice, made up with the baby’s normal milk or boiled water (not fruit juice)
  • Pureed vegetables and fruit are also good options
  • Root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, swede, turnips
  • Pears, bananas, apricots
  • NO citrus, berry fruits or tomatoes

Stage 2 (about 6-9 months)
Increase variety of tastes and textures (mashed and minced as well as pureed). As the quantity of solids increases, the amount of milk taken will decrease. Water can replace some of the milk feeds. Introduce drinking from a cup or beaker. Protein from milk will gradually be replaced with meat, fish, lentils, beans and cereals.

By this age, most babies can pick up small pieces of food and small lumps can be introduced to encourage chewing.

Finger foods can include gluten-free, sugar-free rusks, small pieces of cooked carrot or cooked green beans and small pieces of soft raw fruit such as banana or ripe pear.

Introduce:

  • Lamb and turkey. If OK, move slowly on to other meats, chicken and fish
  • Apples
  • Green vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, spinach)
  • Pulses (peas, beans, lentils)
  • Grains other than wheat such as millet, oats, barley (in small amounts to ascertain gluten tolerance)

Stage 3 (9-12 months)
Your baby may now be able to eat minced and chopped foods and will be eating a wide variety of foods. Offer more varied finger foods, including cooked potato and other vegetables, or small pieces of very soft meat and small cubes of soft fruit at each meal.

Stage 4 (at 12 months)
From a year old, your baby should be moving towards the same diet as the family and no longer needs specially prepared foods. This does not mean that all family foods are suitable. Fatty, fried, highly spiced, salty and sugary foods should not form a regular part of your baby’s diet.

Stage 5 (18 months – 2 years)
At 18 months to 2 years, your toddler will be eating the same food as the rest of the family. He/she will continue to need at least a pint a day of either formula, cow’s milk or suitable milk substitute once no longer breast feeding.

Encourage 3 regular meals and 2-3 milk drinks. Your toddler may also enjoy 2-3 between meal snacks including drinks and finger foods. Additional fluids given may include water or diluted unsweetened fruit juice.

Slowly introduce one at a time:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Wheat products (including bread, wheat cereals, pasta, etc)
  • Well cooked egg yolk can be introduced from 12 months
  • Dairy products including cheese, butter, full cream, boiled cows milk, yoghurt
  • Avoid peanuts – other nuts, finely ground with seeds can be introduced.

6 Comments

  1. Katherine Murphy June 22, 2010

    This is very interesting and useful – thank you. I understand honey is a big ‘no-no’ for babies – why is this the case? Also when can you introduce it? Also is it preferable to introduce egg whites or egg yolk first?

  2. Hannah June 23, 2010

    Egg white allergy tends to be more common so when introducing eggs start off with well cooked yolk first. If you suspect an egg allergy, you must consult with your paediatrician who will be able to advise you further.
    Honey (as well as corn syrup) is a potential source of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) spores. Bacteria from the spores can grow and multiply in a baby’s intestines, making a toxin that can cause infant botulism. The concern is only for children younger than age 1. Constipation is often the first sign of infant botulism, typically accompanied by floppy movements, a weak cry, and difficulty sucking or feeding. If you suspect your baby may have infant botulism, seek medical help immediately.

  3. Bianca Taljaard July 21, 2010

    Hi Hannah.
    I would like to know something–
    I breatfed until my son was 5/6 months. He’s been on NAN HypoAllergenic ever since. He’s been crawling since 6months and standing from 7/8 months. He’s now almost 10 months.
    He’s drinking 500ml devided in 3 drinks a day, and sometimes an extra small feed at night. Am I giving him enough milk? Further on during the day, he eats his veggies and fresh fruit ect. He’s eating anything, not fussy at all. I would just like to know if I’m feeding him correctly? He weighed 3.24kg on birth, he’s now 9.7kg on 9 and half months. Please help!

    Thank you
    Bianca Taljaard
    076 429 6616

  4. Hannah July 21, 2010

    Hi Bianca. Without seeing you or your son personally I can only give you very general recommendations.
    You should be feeding your son about 6 times per day with the formula milk making up around three of those feeds to ensure optimum nutrient intake. For formula milk the general recommendation is about 1 pint (approx 568 ml) per day.
    So an example day plan would be:
    Breakfast: Formula milk with oat and papaya
    Mid-morning: Formula milk
    Lunch: Chickpea, tomato and courgette, minced or chopped
    Mid-pm: Formula milk
    Supper: Potato, pea and spinach, chopped
    Bedtime: Formula milk
    (You can also include animal proteins such as chicken, fish & lean red meats)
    Green veg are important on a daily basis as they provide a good range of B vits, calcium and magnesium required for building strong bones and encourage teeth formation.
    Between 10-12 months, recommended daily fluid intake is about 110 ml/kg – however, this includes fluid found in foods like fruit & veg.
    Hope this answers your question.

  5. Name Dani July 30, 2010

    Very interesting article – thanks! Just a couple of questions: I believe it’s important to introduce wheat cereal as an alternative to rice cereal to avoid allergies. At what age should one do this? Also, how do you know what quantities of food to give a small baby. My 5-month old is quite like a puppy and will eat and eat so long as the food’s on offer…

  6. Hannah July 30, 2010

    Hi Dani. The general infant feeding guidelines suggest that foods that contain strong allergens such as fresh cow’s milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, tomatoes, citrus fruits, soy, chocolate, celery or wheat flour should be avoided for the entire first year. An infant’s / toddler’s gut bacteria are still being established throughout this time and it’s important to stay away from potential allergens. This is particularly true if you have an infant that has been on antibiotics / steroids, etc as well as a family history of allergy.

    Any allergen / intolerance-causing food will damage the epithelial lining of the gut as well as disrupt gut bacteria and once this happens it can lead to numerous problems further down the line – not least development of symptoms such as asthma, eczema and hayfever.

    I suggest to my mom’s that they avoid citrus, wheat, dairy and peanuts until 18 months as there are plenty alternatives. Additionally, wheat today is a polluted grain that goes through numerous levels of processing before it hits the cereal box.

    With regards to amounts there is no hard and fast rule – generally start small (2 tsp) and work up (7-8 tsp) over 5 weeks. You can offer foods 2-3 times per day. This will take you up to approx 6 months.

    Hope this helps.

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