Weaning First Steps
During the first 4 – 8 weeks of weaning, which ideally starts at 6 months – your goal is to get your baby eat from a spoon and introduce new flavours and varieties. When you first begin weaning, it is advised that you offer single ingredient meals as smooth puree, gradually thickening it as baby gets familiar with this new way of eating. Initially you will need only a teaspoonful or so of the puree, so you do not need to prepare a lot, but you can also freeze left overs in ice cube trays for later use. Offer the same food for 3 or 4 days until baby is used to it before you introduce a new food. This also allows you time to observe any reactions to the food. This may make for a boring menu, but it will only be for a few weeks and it really helps you set a good foundation for your baby’s future eating habits.
Here is a list of fruits and veggies that can be pureed for baby at this stage. These are just examples and you should look around to see what is available locally.
Spinach and other soft dark green leafy vegetables
For ripe banana and avocado you can puree straight out of the skin. For the others you need to steam first to soften before pureeing. Mix each of these foods with breast milk or formula to make a runny puree. You can adjust the thickness of the puree by adding more or less milk. Remember it is best to go for local fruits and vegetable that are fresh and in season
You can also offer baby cereal as a first food. Many experts recommend rice cereal to start with, as it is gluten free.
Baby cereals are fortified with key micronutrients that cereals don’t contain naturally, like iron. In order to ensure your baby gets the appropriate quantity of the micronutrients follow the manufacturer’s preparation instructions.
If you opt to go for flours to prepare uji /pap/porridge, avoid mixed flours as some mixtures interfere with each other so that nutrients cannot be absorbed optimally.
Other things to consider for successful weaning
Other considerations for weaning
Apart from the food selection you also need to consider the following when starting out to wean your baby:
- Pick a time when baby is not too tired or too full with milk.
- Feed baby in a familiar relaxed location with few distractions.
- Smile – if you show you don’t like a food your baby will pick up on how you are feeling
- Let baby play with the food.
- If they want to hold and play with the spoon let them.
- Avoid sugary snacks and drinks such as biscuits, jam, rusks, and concentrated juice
- Give lots of love and encouragement.