This is the process whereby adult meal is gradually introduced into an infant’s diet.  Pediatricians usually encourage this process to take place at the age of 6 months and above.  Research has shown that a baby gets all the nutrients needed before the age of 6 months from breast milk alone, after the age of 6 month it becomes insufficient.  It is important to note that every child has a different taste. The weaning phase requires patience and the mother/ care giver must be willing to try different meals with the child to get the desired meal for the child.

According to WHO, a child should be breast feed up to the age of two along with the added adult meal. Before you commence weaning the child should be able to sit up, pick up objects and swallow easily {except in cases of some birth defects like cerebral palsy, spinal bifida}

When weaning your child take note of the following;

  • Always make sure you are with your child when feeding
  • Never force feed your child as this can cause aspiration of food in to the lungs
  • Try to always give your child a balanced meal with sufficient protein and vitamins

It is important to note that children all have their individual taste and usually have preference for different meals.The process of weaning is a gradual process. It is important you continue to breastfed your child during the weaning phase. If your child prefers breast milk to solid meals you can express milk into a cup and give with spoon. If you will use feeding bottle it is important to appropriately sterilize the bottle to avoid diarrhea.

Different meals you can wean you child with include;

  • Mashed vegetables; carrots, broccoli, bananas
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Fortified pap; pap can be fortified with fish, eggs, crayfish,
  • Morsels; such as Amala , semovita , wheat{all this should be made very soft}. This can be given with mashed vegetables {ewedu} fortified with fish, crayfish,
  • Iron fortified baby milk formula
  • Mashed beans with little oil

The United Kingdom’s NHS recommends withholding foods including those “that contain wheat, gluten, nuts, peanuts, peanut products, seeds, liver, eggs, fish, shellfish, cows’ milk and soft or unpasteurized cheese” until a baby is six months old, as they may cause food allergies or make the baby ill.

Stress-free weaning tips

  • Don’t get worried about the initial quantity of meal your child is taking. They are still getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula.
  • Weaning is all about letting them try new tastes and textures. This excites the child and encourages increase consumption of the meals.
  • When you start weaning your child, the child doesn’t have to eat 3 times a day. It is usually a gradual process.
  • Choose a time of day when both you and your baby are relaxed (not too tired or too hungry) to introduce your weaning meals.
  • Keep smiling; it is important you create a happy, relaxed atmosphere and keep mealtimes fun. Don’t worry if he doesn’t eat anything, and certainly don’t get cross (even if you have spent ages lovingly preparing it!). Instead, lots of praise and smiles for anything he does put into his mouth.
  • Prepare and expect mess always have wipes, damp flannels, bibs and plastic mats under the feeding chair (cheap shower curtains are good for this). You might also need a change of clothes – for both of you.
  • It doesn’t have to be home-made; there’s an unwritten rule that babies (and small children) follow: the more time you’ve spent preparing a meal, the less likely they are to eat it! So give yourself a break and invest in some fruit pouches for when you’re out and about, and jars for when you’re short on time at home.
  • It is important to try new foods several times. Just because he rejects banana the first time doesn’t mean he doesn’t like it. It’s all new to him and takes a while to get used to, so keep trying.
  • New eating opportunities don’t just have to come at meal times. Let your baby try healthy snacks such as; rice cakes, baby biscuits or strips of toast.
  • Eat together at meal times; it is important you eat when your child is eating as this gives the child a better understanding about the feeding process. It also makes meal times happy and sociable.
  • Don’t encourage a sweet tooth; most babies will happily wolf down fruits, but it’s important to develop their taste for savory foods too. Try mixing vegetable and fruit purees, and give those ‘fun’ vegetables like soft, steamed broccoli to munch on.
  • It is important you know more about choking and what you can do to avoid it and also manage it when it occurs.
  • Say cheese Have that camera ready to take pictures of that hummus-covered face because messy as it is, this stage doesn’t last for long and these are the photos you’ll look back on with a big smile.