Weaning is giving family foods in addition to breast milk. Family foods are foods that the rest of the family normally eat, can give babies all the nourishment they need without any additional cost. Weaning is a gradual process by which the infant becomes accustomed to the adult diet. The weaning period is the most crucial period in the child’s development. Weaning, if not done properly, lead to diarrhea and malnutrition.
Weaning is the gradual replacement of breastfeeding with other foods.Weaning is the process by which a baby slowly gets used to eating family or adult foods and relies less and less on breast milk.
It is a gradual process starting around the age of 6 months, because the mother’s milk alone is not sufficient to sustain growth beyond 6 months.
During weaning, suitable foods rich in protein and other nutrients are given to the child. These foods are called supplementary foods. These are usually cow’s milk, fruit juice, soft cooked rice, dhal, vegetables and egg yolk. As far as possible, locally available foods should be used in weaning the child. The weaning/ supplementary foods do not replace breastmilk, they complement it. As the baby gets older it needs more food to grow and stay healthy.
High in energy
· Easy to digest
· Low in bulk and viscosity (not too thick)
· Fresh and clean
· Inexpensive and easy to prepare
· Not too highly seasoned
· Wash hand thoroughly with soap before preparation of weaning foods.
· Introduce one food at a time
· Let the baby get used to one food for a few days before introducing another.
· Start by giving one or two teaspoons and gradually increase the quantity
· Give food in addition to regular breast feeds.
· Do not use a feeding bottle.
· Slowly increase the number of meals and the amount of food given.
· Feed babies using a clean cup and spoon.
· Do not add water to the weaning food.
· Encourage the child to hold the food
· Encourage eating on its own
· Avoid force feeding
· Avoid ready made processed foods
By the age of eight months, most babies need four ‘meals’ a day including a variety of foods, in addition to regular breastfeeding. At one year old a child should be able to be given all types of family foods, although the food may still need to be softened or mashed. Patience is needed when babies are first starting to eat family foods. There is no need to buy expensive commercially manufactured weaning foods.
· Wash hands before preparing food
· Prepare weaning foods immediately before they will be eaten
· Wash all utensils before preparing food, and scrub chopping boards and tables
· Cook or boil food well
Mash foods up with a clean spoon.
· Use the cleanest water available for making weaning foods and for washing uncooked foods.
· If possible boil the water if it has not come from a clean source such as a tap or water pump.
· Boiling water will kill the germs that cause diarrhoea.
· Do not store weaning foods for more than two hours if possible.
· Keep them stored in clean covered containers that keep out flies and other insects.