Toddler weaning is the gradual change-over from a diet of milk to a variety of foods. Most of the foods are solid rather than liquid.
Milk is the perfect food for the first few months of life. As babies get older, they begin to need foods containing starch and fiber. They also need more vitamins and minerals, particularly iron, that are present in milk alone in order to continue growing and developing properly.
When to Start Toddler Weaning
It takes several months for a baby’s digestive system to develop fully. For example, starch cannot be readily digested until the baby is a few months old. There is no point in toddler weaning a baby until he is able to make proper use of food. The danger of weaning too early is that the baby may become too fat, develop allergies to food, or suffer from indigestion.
The time to begin weaning is when the baby is 3-4-month-old and still seems hungry and restless after a good milk feed or wakes early for his next feed and starts; to suck his fists.
Toddler Weaning Should not be a Battle
New foods must be present one at a time. Even at this young age, babies make it clear whether they enjoy the taste or not. Babies are like adults in preferring some foods to others. If they forced to eat a particular food it can easily lead to a feeding problem. When a baby appears not to like a food, it is wise to wait for a week or two Before Offering it again. By this time there might be a change of mind.
Stages in Toddler Weaning: Starting to wean.
Young babies cannot yet chew. They also have difficulty in swallowing and digesting lumps. So solid food such as cereals, fruit, vegetables, and meat need to be ground up finely to remove the lumps. It is then mixed with milk or other suitable liquid to make a thickened liquid that can be given to the baby on a spoon.
Ways of Removing Lumps from Food
A small amount of such food once a day enough to start with Soon the baby comes to expect a little with
each milk feed and the amount gradually increases. Different sorts of food should be given so that the baby gets used to a variety of flavors.
Examples are baby, rich mixed with milk, mashed potato with gravy, mashed banana, a vegetable which has been made into a puree, meat stew which has been put through a blender.
Giving Solid Foods
Most babies learn to chew at about 6 months, whether they have teeth. Solid food is important for the baby to give hard foods such as crusts and rusks on which to chew. A baby who does not encourage to chew at this age may refuse to do a few months later.
A baby who is able to chew can give solid foods such as sandwiches, toast, chase, boiled egg and a wide variety of other foods. There is no need to wait until the baby has a mouthful of teeth before giving such foods. However, tougher foods such as meat should be cut into small pieces first.
Reducing the Amount of Milk
As the amount of solid food increases, the need for milk decreases. Usually, by the age of 9 months to 1 year, a baby has given up the breast or the bottle and fully weaned on to a diet of mainly solid foods. He can then be eating food that is not very much different from the rest of the family. Milk is still needed each day, but it can be given in different forms such as milk puddings, etc. A 6-month-old baby can give cow’s milk, babies need not boil as long as it is pasteurized and fresh.
Drinking from a Cup
Although breast or bottle-feeding may continue until the baby is 9-10 months or older, the number of feeds becomes less and eventually stops. Cup-feeding usually begins about 5-6 months of age. Milk from a cup gradually replaces that from the breast or bottle.
It is quite common for babies suddenly to refuse to take any more milk from breast or bottle. Other babies are reluctant to give up the bottle. They may drink readily from a cup during the day, but still, like a bottle at bedtime. After the age of 1 year, the older the baby gets, the more difficult it becomes for him to give up his bottle.
Toddler Weaning Foods
Tins, jars, and packets of baby foods can be very useful for toddler weaning. They are quick and easy to prepare, convenient when only small quantities required, and very useful when traveling. These commercially prepared foods provide good nourishment and come in an increasingly wide variety.
Commercially prepared foods should not replace fresh foods and home-prepared foods altogether. Babies can try most foods served to the rest of the family. This provides a greater range of tastes and textures found in commercially prepared foods and makes eating more interesting. More Important, the baby uses to eating the same food as other members of the family.
Gluten a type of protein found in wheat and rye. A few babies are unable to digest gluten and this only becomes apparent when they are weaning. These children have a very rare condition called coeliac disease. They need to have a gluten-free diet, and cannot eat foods containing wheat-rye flour.