The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, giving baby’s body the chance to have all necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals for growing and developing physical, motor and social skills.
As of month 6, baby’s supply of iron, Zinc and Vitamins A and D starts to decrease while his tiny body increases its demand for energy in an unusual way that makes his mother’s breast milk content not enough to meet his needs.
In general, baby starts to develop his skills to sit, grab things and explore his mouth few months after birth. As time goes by, baby is likely to be more interested in food. And when he will start showing this interest, it will be the right time for weaning. Yet, that doesn’t mean that all babies are alike and none of them has the capacity to develop his skills faster than others.
That’s why, the World Health Organization suggests the likelihood of introducing baby to food other than milk at the end of month 4 minimum, while taking into consideration the types of food that are not safe for infants under 6 months old or those that can expose them to allergies, especially that children this age have limited control over food, can’t swallow food properly without causing them to choke, and have immature digestive systems that are still not ready to handle all kinds of nutrition.
That said, we advise you to initiate your baby’s weaning slowly, carefully and on three phases:
Phase One: between 4 and 6 month old
During the first weeks of weaning, introduce your baby gradually to different food tastes and textures, and continue breastfeeding him not less than 600 ml of milk per day.
Choose your baby’s new tastes and textures from carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, non-leafy veggies, and fruits such as apples, bananas, pears, mangoes, and serve them boiled, well mashed and with no additives of any kind.
At this stage, don’t force your bundle of joy to eat food he doesn’t like, but try with him again the next day. If you want, you can introduce your child to a new food after or in the middle of a breastfeeding session.
Phase Two: between 6 and 9 month old
During this phase, increase the quantity of food you’re offering your child, either before breastfeeding or afterwards.
Moreover, teach your baby how to drink from the cup, introduce him to finger foods and other types of food known for their strong taste and hard texture, following these recommendations: 2 to 3 servings of carbs, 2 servings of fruits and veggies, 1 serving of meat, fish or other protein sources, such as legumes and eggs, as well as 500 to 600 ml of milk.
Phase Three: between 9 and 12 month old
Continue breastfeeding your baby like before and prepare him meals from different healthy food following these dietary recommendations: 3 to 4 servings of carbs or complex carbs, 3 to 4 servings of fruits and veggies, one serving of meat, fish or eggs, or 2 servings of beans, lentils and other legumes.
It is to be noted that weaning is a gradual process that takes much time and needs lots of patience and care. Enjoy it, encourage your baby to go with it but do not force him to, and that’s until he’s capable of joining your other family members on the dinner table when he’s one year old.
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