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If you’re a new mom, you may be wondering when exactly should you start to introduce other food options in your baby’s diet. It may seem hard at first to understand all the new concepts related to a newborn, however, it is not that difficult at all. Weaning is the process by which a baby is weaned off from a milkonly diet to introduce new foods and flavors. Weaning is a timely and step-wise transition from liquid to semi-liquid to solid foods. Introducing new foods ensures that your baby is receiving all the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and development. There are 3 stages of weaning, namely stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3.
This article describes stage 1 of weaning and provides practical ideas to help you feed your baby correctly. The first stage of weaning begins at around 4 months of age and lasts until the 6 th month. During this period, a baby learns how to get used to foods that have more texture. A baby may refuse new foods. This is completely normal. Do not force your baby to feed on new foods if he refuses to. Instead, wait for 5 to 7 days and reintroduce the same foods. This will slowly help him adapt to new tastes and textures. Some great starting foods include smooth baby rice or porridge, vegetables, and fruit purées. You can try vegetable purées made from carrots, squash, broccoli, and cauliflower.
You may also add pureed chicken and fish. Make sure to remove all the bones and blend animal proteins correctly. Do not add salt, sugar, gravies, sauces, or stock cubes to the foods. Your baby’s stools will change in color and consistency as you initiate different foods. You should not worry as this is completely normal. At the end of the first stage, your baby should be able to take foods from a spoon and shift food from the front of the mouth to the back of the mouth for swallowing.
The second stage of weaning begins at around 6 months of age and ends at around 9 months. Second stage foods should be of a thicker consistency than stage 1. The aim of stage 2 is to slowly make the transition from thick purées to mashed foods to soft lumps. The meal plan for stage 2 should include three meals per day with each meal consisting of 2 – 4 tablespoons. You can include yogurt, rice, pasta, porridge, and cereals. As proteins, you can include poultry, fish, peas, and beans. You should also introduce soft finger foods at this stage.
Some great examples of soft finger foods include cheese cubes, broccoli florets, cooked soft vegetable sticks made from potatoes, courgettes, or carrots. Soften the texture of these different food options before feeding it to your child by mashing the solids to create a soft but thick purée. Stage 2 is also the stage where you introduce drinks.
You can help him take sips of cool boiled water from a cup or baby beaker at mealtimes or diluted juices to delight his taste buds. You should end each meal by feeding milk. Different children have different likings so trial and error is the right way to find out your child’s preferences. At the end of the second stage, your baby would have learned how to chew lumps, self-feed using hands and fingers, and drink from a cup
Weaning stage 3 takes place from 9 to 12 months of age. During this stage, you can introduce all the foods from stage 1, stage 2 as well as family foods that have been prepared without salt, sugar, and sauces. This stage is ideal to encourage your child to feed on his own. Third stage foods are more solid in consistency. The meal plan for stage 3 includes three main meals each consisting of 4-6 tablespoons and 2-3 nutritious snacks. Great food options to include at this stage are sliced fruits, breadsticks, strips of cooked meat, smaller portions of family foods like soups and stews. They should be minced or chopped to facilitate chewing. Ideal drinks include breast milk on demand, formula milk, or cool boiled water.
Do not introduce honey, salt, sugar, and processed foods that have been preserved in a lot of salt before 12 months of age. Honey is sometimes contaminated with the Clostridium bacteria, a harmful bacterium that can cause muscle weakness in a baby. It is also advisable to avoid nuts and seeds until your child turns 5 years old due to allergic reactions. At the end of the third stage, your child should be able to chew chopped and lumpy foods, self-feed with a spoon, and drink comfortably from a cup