Weaning in Children

Weaning is an important milestone in a child’s development, marking the transition from exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding to introducing solid foods.

When to Start Weaning:

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life. Around six months of age, most infants show signs of readiness for solid foods, such as the ability to sit upright with support, good head control, and showing interest in food.

Introducing Solid Foods:

  • Start Slowly:  Begin with small amounts of single-ingredient pureed or mashed foods, such as cooked vegetables or fruits, iron-fortified baby cereals, or well-cooked grains. Offer one new food at a time, waiting a few days before introducing another to monitor for any potential allergies or adverse reactions.
  • Consistency and Texture: Gradually progress from smooth purees to mashed, soft, and eventually chopped or minced foods. As your child becomes more skilled at eating, introduce finger foods for self-feeding and encourage the development of chewing and swallowing skills.
  • Nutritional Variety: Offer a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products (or suitable alternatives if lactose intolerant). Aim to provide a balanced diet that meets your child’s nutritional needs.

Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding:

During the weaning process, it is important to continue breastfeeding or formula feeding alongside the introduction of solid foods. Breast milk or formula remains an essential part of your child’s nutrition, providing them with necessary nutrients and immune protection.

Responsive Feeding and Signs of Fullness:

Pay attention to your child’s hunger and fullness cues during mealtimes. Encourage responsive feeding by allowing your child to decide how much they want to eat. Signs of fullness may include turning their head away, closing their mouth, or losing interest in food.

Potential Challenges:

Every child is unique, and some may experience challenges during the weaning process. It’s important to be patient and flexible. Common challenges may include food refusal, gagging, or messy eating. Seek guidance from a paediatrician if you have concerns or need assistance in addressing these challenges.

Weaning is an exciting journey that allows children to explore new tastes, textures, and develop important feeding skills. By following the recommended guidelines, introducing a variety of nutritious foods, and paying attention to your child’s cues, you can support their healthy transition to solid foods. Remember, every child is different, so be patient and adapt to their individual needs. Consult with a paediatrician for personalised advice and to address any concerns you may have along the way.