Lets start with the principles of weaning:
- Start at around 6 months, definitely not before 4 months.
- Weaning means not only shifting from exclusive breast feed to other foods, but also involves the introduction of the "chewable" food concept, which means that we need to give semi-solid foods so as to acclimatize the child to chewing and swallowing.
- Start with a single new food item, so that in case your child vomits/does not like it you know what food to avoid for a little while.
- The quantity would be around 1-2 teaspoons initially, twice a day. Preferably the mid morning (9-11:00 AM feedtime) & evening (5:00-7:00 PM) time.
- Increase quantity over a week and then try something new.
- In case the child does not accept the new food, RELAX, take 2 deep breaths and try something else. Re-introduce the same food after a month and there is every chance that the child may take it!
- Start with food items like watery daal (arhar/ moong) with a little bit of daal in it (the "chewable food" concept)
- Other items that may be added include suji kheer, dalia (porridge), mashed potato, mashed banana, liquid khichdi, boiled and mashed apple and pear, soups of potato, tomato etc.
- Thicker things like mixed vegetables, egg, chicken soup may be introduced by around 9 months
- The aim is to get the child on home-made foods (without special preparations) by the age of 1 year
Any foods to avoid?
Hmmm... Do not add any salt initially but later you may give a mild taste to the bland food that is being cooked. A little bit of sugar is quite alright though. Always avoid seeds for small kids as they may get stuck in the throat. No outside food/ water as far as possible.
How long should breast feed be continued?
For around 2 years, give or take a few months
What about CERELAC, FAREX and other commercial weaning foods?
There is no advantage of these commercial weaning foods over home-made foods. The disadvantage is that there would always be some added preservatives (even though they may safe in kids) and that an year down the line you would have to wean your child off these weaning foods!
The only reason these may be preferred would the time saved in preparation of home-made weaning foods for a working mother.
Do remember that weaning is new time for everyone, and just like not many people like to change a routine, the kids too have an "adjustment period" before the weaning can be successful. Be patient, and enjoy the experience since it is a UNIQUE one!
More on weaning recipes in the future