Weaning your baby off Breast-Milk? Here's What You Need to Know

December 10, 2018

Weaning your baby off breast-milk? Here are some tips for a young mother to get it right as the baby progresses to a different diet.

The phase when a baby weans off the mother's milk and transitions to semi-solid or solid foods are absolutely critical. Once the baby is 6 months old, the diet should have nutritional supplements along with breast milk.
Here are some tips for a young mother to get it right as the baby progresses to a different diet.

1. What are some guidelines to follow while weaning a baby off breast milk?
Breast-milk alone is not enough for infants after 6 months of age.
Complimentary food should be given after 6 months of age, in addition to Breast-feeding.
Feed low-cost home-made food.
Feed on demand 3-4 times a day.
Provide fruits and well-cooked vegetables.
Observe hygienic practices while preparing food and feeding the baby
Read nutrition label on baby foods carefully

2. What are good home-made supplements?
The initial diet should be a mix of simple home-made supplements like cereals, dals, fruits and vegetables. Some things you can include in the diet are
Wheat, Rice, Jowar, Bajra and Ragi
Grams and dals
Nuts and oilseeds like Groundnut and Sesame can be given in fine particles once teeth start forming
Mashed fruits and vegetables like mashed potato, mashed carrots, mashed apples, Papaya, Mango, Banana and fruit custard. Leafy vegetables can be made a paste and provided as a weaning mix.

Weaning foods based on cereal-pulse-nut and sugar/jaggery combinations will provide good quality protein, adequate calories and other protective nutrients.

3. What to feed the baby when the mothers milk is not sufficient?
If breastfeeding fails, then the infant should be fed animal milk or commercial infant formula. Here are some things to keep in mind while doing so -
Milk should be boiled before being fed to the baby.
To start with, milk may be diluted with an equal volume of water.
Undiluted milk may be started from 4 weeks of age.
Infants who are fed animal milk should receive supplements of iron and vitamin C.
About 120-180 ml of milk should be fed with one teaspoon of sugar per feed, 6-8 times over the day.
While reconstituting the infant formula, the instructions given on the label should be strictly followed.
The feeds should be prepared and given using a sterile cup, spoon, bottles and nipples, taking utmost care.
Overfeeding should be avoided in artificially-fed infants to prevent obesity.
Low-cost home-made complementary foods should be preferred.

Also read about - Obesity Risk Factors, Symptoms and Prevention

4. What are the other nutrients crucial for the infant?
The infant should eat calcium rich food as part of the diet. This is crucial for growth and bone development. Children require more calcium than adults.
Calcium prevents osteoporosis (thinning of bones).
Also read about - Osteoporosis Risk Factors, Symptoms and prevention
Milk, curds and nuts are rich sources of bio-available calcium (Ragi and GLV are also good dietary sources of calcium).
Regular exercise reduces calcium loss from bones.
Exposure to sunlight maintains vitamin D status which helps in calcium absorption

5. What to keep in mind when the infant is sick?
As the infant is weaned off the mothers milk he/she may take time adjusting to the diet. If the infant falls sick, these are some things to keep in mind:
Never starve the child
Feed energy-rich cereal-pulse diets with milk and mashed vegetables.
Feed small quantities at frequent intervals.
Continue breastfeeding.
Give plenty of fluids during illness.
Use oral rehydration solution to prevent and correct dehydration during diarrheal episodes.

6. What are Amylase Rich Foods (ARFs) and why are they important?
ARFs help in increasing the energy density of weaning gruels and in reducing its bulk as well.
Take 250 g of wheat
Add 2-3 volumes of water soak it for 8 hrs
Drain excess water
Germinate wheat in dark for 24-48 hours
Sundry for 5-8 hours
Roast gently in a flat pan just to remove water
Grind and powder the grains (ARF)
Store in airtight bottles/jars
Add 5 g (one teaspoon) of ARF, after cooking, to every feed.

7. What are some other complementary foods while weaning?

Here are the recipes and methods to make complementary food while the infant is weaning.

Rice 35 g
Green gram dhal 10 g
Leafy vegetables 5g
Fat 5g
Cumin (jeera)few

Clean rice and dhal and cook them in water with salt until the grains are soft and water is absorbed.
Leafy vegetables can be added when the cereal/pulse is 3/4th done.
Cumin is fried in oil and added towards the end.

Malted Ragi Porridge
Malted Ragi 30 g
Roasted Groundnut 15 g
Jaggery 20 g

Powder malted ragi roasted groundnuts and jaggery.
Add sufficient water and cook.

Wheat Payasam
Wheat 30 g
Roasted Bengal gram flour 15 g
Roasted &crushed Groundnut 5 g
Sugar 15 g

Roast whole wheat and powder.
Add roasted Bengal gram flour, groundnut and sugar.
Cook with sufficient water.

Vermicelli/Rice 30 g
Milk 100 ml.
Water As required
Jaggery 20 g

Boil rice/vermicelli in water till half done.
Add milk and bring to boil.
Add jaggery and cook well.

All these recipes provide approximately 250 Kcals. and 5 g proteins and
Amounts given are for 2 servings.
Recipes Nos.2 and 3 can be prepared and stored in airtight containers to be
Used whenever required.
Non-vegetarian foods such as soft boiled egg, minced meat may be introduced at the age of 6 months.

Introduce (along with Breast Feeding)
Fresh milk 200-250ml/day
Mashed banana/ custard 1/4 - 1/2
Powdered murmura/ rice flakes 1/4- 1/2 katori
in milk+sugar+Ghee
Khichri (Liquid consistency) 1/4 - 1/2 katori
Washed moong dal + rice + Ghee
biscuit/ bread/Suji in milk 1/4 - 1/2 cup
Boiled mashed potato/ halwa

Continue breast feeding
Fresh milk (includes curd) 250-400 ml/day
Banana OR any other 3/4 - 1
Seasonal fruit
Suji/sago/Dalia in milk 1/2 - 1 katori
Khichri (semisolid consistency) 1/2 - 1 katori
(Dal + rice + Ghee) OR rice-dal
Biscuit/ bread in milk 1/2 - 1cup
Potato+ vegetable 1/2 - 1 cup

Continue breastfeeding.
Fresh milk (includes curd) 400 - 500 ml/day
Banana OR any other 1 or more
Seasonal fruit
Suji/sago/Dalia/Vermicelli in milk 1 katori or more
Khichri (semisolid consistency) 1katori or more
(Dal + rice + Ghee) OR rice-dal
Biscuit/ bread/chapatti/ paratha 1 cup or more Banana OR any other
(By 1 year)
Potato + any other vegetable as required
Curd/ Paneer / groundnut/Egg

Up to the age of 2years same foods can be followed by increasing the portion size.
While the child is weaning, encourage the consumption of nutritional food. This will pave the way for healthy habits and a healthy future.

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