Weaning is the act of accustoming the child to foods other than mother’s milk. Period of weaning starts when the infant is around six months old. A child is considered fully weaned when he stops feeding on breast milk and changes over completely to a different diet.
Weaning is a problem when the child continues to prefer breast milk to other foods. In order to make weaning an easy transition, only one new food needs to be introduced to the infant at one time. Introducing too many new things may confuse the child and may delay the weaning process.
The infant must be given time to get familiar with the newly introduced food before starting another. This will help the infant to get familiar with the new taste before switching to a different one.
Weaning foods need to given in small quantities in the beginning. A teaspoon or less amount of food needs to be introduced initially.
The consistency of food can be changed gradually from liquid to solid depending on the acceptance level of the infant, digestive capacity and growth of teeth.
At first, fruits and vegetables must be strained and given. Later on, when the baby can chew, the same fruits and vegetables can be finely chopped and given. It is a good idea to mix fruits or vegetables with milk before feeding the child as the child is already familiar to the taste of milk.
Sometimes babies have a strong dislike to some foods. It is best to try such foods after a fortnight or substitute the same food with another temporarily. It is not a good idea to force an infant to eat what he does not like as it may make weaning extremely difficult.
Food given to the infant must be fresh and hygienically prepared. If, variety of food is given during weaning, it will help the child to get accustomed to different tastes and also help in making the diet balanced.
Feeding the child is a skill. Mothers need to be patient, tactful and enthusiastic while feeding children. If mothers can portray that the food given to children is of great benefit to them, they will consume it immediately. Slow modification and adaptation of dietary pattern to that of an adult is a test of creativity, patience and resourcefulness of the mother.