Weaning - Importance,tips and a few recipes ideas....

Weaning starts from the 5th month onwards and breastfeeding is supplemented with liquid feeds, semi solids and gradually progresses to solid foods.This transition in diet will vary depending on the personal preferences ,teething, baby’s ability to accept and adapt to the changes in diet, pediatricians advice etc.
Weaning is essential after the 5th month since the breast milk alone is not sufficient provide all the nutrients especially Iron.When you start weaning the infant, it has to get used to swallow 'non fluid food'.The lil one has to get used to new flavors, use of different muscles etc and hence this period can be a trying one not only for the infant but also to the mother.

I will classify the toddlers into two groups.. 

5 months to 12 months
1 year to 3 years.

Semisolid food

Some tasty bites for the lil ones : These are just a few examples and based on the lil ones preferences you can prepare plenty of tasty bites for the toddler.

5 to 6 months
Rice mash
Moong dhal water
Masoor dhal water
Barley water
Moong dhal kichidi
Fruit juices[Papaya,musk melon,sapota]
Soups[carrot,beetrootbottlegourd,potato,mixed veggies]
Dhal mash
Fruit purees[Banana,papaya,mango,apricot,figs]
Porridges[Ragi,malted porridges]

7-9 months
Milkshakes[sapota, banana, strawberry]
Apple porridge
Add cream cheese/paneer to fruits like apricots, figs, dates etc.
Spinach puree
Mashed curd rice
Vegetable kitchidi
Chickpea spinach mash

10-12 months
Rotis /chapathi plain or with veggies
Mildly flavoured veggie pulao
Add soya in small quantities
Vegetable idlis
Fruit custard

Over 1 year

The choice is unlimited and all we need to do is use our creativity in preparing food for the toddler. Incorporating the foods with the right nutrient is essential and sometimes we may need to ‘conceal’ certain foods in order to feed a fussy child. You can try meethi paratha if the lil one hates greens and give vegetable idlis if the child does not like to eat veggies.

MIL used to say that her sister had a superb way to feed egg to her daughter.She would conceal bits of boiled egg in the idli.[Pour half a ladle batter into the mold ,put in a few pieces of boiled egg and top it up with more batter.]This iddli would then be soaked in sambar and her niece not knowing what is inside used to gobble up the idli!!! Great idea, rite!!!

Whatever is the method used to feed the toddler, it is essential to ensure that he/she takes a well balanced diet.

What to avoid till the baby is 1 year old...

Many a times mothers are not aware of what to give or what to avoid till the infant is a year old. There are numerous myths and misconceptions and these easily confuse them. But some common advises are listed-

1. Avoid honey and limit the use of sugar and salt.

2. Avoid feeding the child tea/coffee. The tannin in tea interferes with iron absorption and caffeine is not recommended for children.

3. Avoid giving fruit squashes or diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners are not suitable for babies and young children.

4.It is better to avoid foods which may carry a risk of food poisoning, such as soft mould-ripened cheeses (brie, camembert) and soft-boiled or raw eggs.

5.Baby's need calories so don't feed the baby with skim milk or low fat milk.

6. Some pediatricians recommend fruits like custard apple, guava, grapes etc after the baby is one year old.

So talk to your peadiatrician about the food choices.

Here are some guidelines for weaning [includes liquid, semi solid or solid]

1) Weaning is a period of experimentation not only for the baby but also to the mother. For some this transition can be easy while for others it can be difficult phase. Mothers tend to overfeed the baby or worry if the baby is eating too little. The baby actually guides us and all we need to do is to understand the needs of the baby. If the baby cries at the sight of food or understands and signals when u ask if he is hungry then its meal time. If the baby feeds and then turns his head away from food then it means he’s full. A little bit of understanding will make this period a very enjoyable one for the mother and the baby.

2) Always consult your pediatrician before starting anything new to feed.
3) Use sterilized vessels, cups and spoon for the baby and also boiled water to feed the infant. Prepare food in a hygienic condition.

4) Start a new food a few spoons at a time and then go on to larger quantities.

5) Start the new foods in the day time so that you can watch-out for any allergy/reaction[like cough, rashes, etc] and moreover the food is easily digestible during the day.

6) Also it is important to introduce one food at a time. In case any allergy develops we will not be aware of food that caused the allergy. Hence it is better to leave a gap of a few days between each new food.

7) Do not show personal dislike towards the food as the baby is easily influenced by the mother.

8) It is said that the baby does not show the preference towards salty or sweet foods hence its wiser to avoid them till around 7 months.Also it is advisable to avoid use of strong spices till this time.

9) Check the temperature and the taste of the food before feeding it to the little one.

10) When the lil one is sick ask the pediatrician about the changes to be done in the diet.

So if you have any recipes, tips or ideas do send it across for the event 'Tasty bites for toddlers'

Please note:This information provided here is just a guideline and not a medical advice. Consult your pediatrician before starting a new food....