Weaning doesn’t have to be difficult but it is not always easy. Weaning could take days, weeks or even months. It depends on your baby but it could be a nice process without too much drama. Just be patient, persistent and experiment. There is plenty of information and countless tips on how to wean a baby. Ask your pediatrician about this process and everything you care about. Still, you know your child best, you will feed your baby, you will see how behaves and what your baby likes and what doesn’t like. Apply different strategies, watch your kid and listen to your heart. Collect information and decide for yourself when to start weaning and how to do it. There are, of course, basic rules to comply with, as well as those that will not apply to you and your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (and many others) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth. And breastfeeding in combination with solid foods until at least age one. Breastfeeding is recommended as long as you and your baby wish to continue with it. Regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or using formulated milk, the recommendations are to start with solid food after the sixth month if you breastfeeding and around the fifth month if using a formula, but at the earliest after the fourth month.
Solid foods are typically introduced at the age of six months and then weaning naturally begins. If your baby is struggling with the weaning process, stop for a while and try again after week or two. You can wean your child to a bottle and then a cup or directly to a cup, depends on the baby. You can continue with breastfeeding until you finish with power supply, depends on you. Anyway, around the first year is good to consider transitioning from bottle to cup and no later than eighteen months to avoid a stubborn toddler revolt. And there are some risks like dental decay, ear infections and increase the risk of obesity in cases of long-term bottle feeding.
In general, weaning happens by gradually replacing the baby’s meals with solid food instead of milk (breast or formulated milk). Around the fifth to the sixth month, your baby will suck at certain times and fairly regular intervals during the day. That’s why the power supply usually starts at the sixth month. About four-six months of age, the baby could show signs of being ready for solid food – can sit well, take items and put them in the mouth, the saliva in the baby’s mouth grows, the first tooth grows, shortens the intervals between breastfeeding or the baby shows interest in the food of the elderly.
The inclusion of new food starts only when the baby is completely healthy! Start with solid food little by little, with one or two teaspoons on the first day, double the amount on the second day, and then reach a full portion for a week. It is advisable to give the new food at the beginning of the meal and then to feed the infant with breast milk or formula. Include only one new food per week in the first month of the power supply. After that, when your baby has one meal only with solid food, you can introduce new foods a bit more quickly. The best time to give new food is in the morning or at lunch. This will make it easier to watch out for possible food allergies, rashes, disorder, constipation, vomiting. Changes in color, consistency and frequency of the baby’s stools are expected. This is normal and depends on the type of food that is included.
At the beginning of the process the goal is to get the baby to eat with a spoon, but breast milk or formula remains a major source of nutrients. Gradually increasing the amount of solid food you will reach the stage where the baby will have two to three meals a day with solid food.
By the age of eight to ten months, your baby should be able to eat textured food like finely chopped soft fruits, roast vegetable wedges, pasta, soft cheese, bread, rice cakes and baby crackers. And step by step when the baby becomes one year old, you will probably have reached а stage where all the baby’s basic meals will be with solid food. The nighttime feedings are removed too at this time. In most cases the babies just refuse midnight eating at a certain time. But if it lasts long it is good to try to replace it with water. Often this process is slow and difficult. So be patient, and be persistent. Usually the last feeding to be removed is the one before sleep. It can be removed by switching it with a little hot water or reading a book to the baby, or the dad can get the baby to sleep.
When you stop nursing, your body also needs time to cope with the upcoming changes and stop breastmilk production. If you do it slowly and gradually, your milk glands will start to reduce the milk flow a little by little until they stop completely over time. On rare occasions this process can take months, so keep calm. At first is possible to feel your chest slightly tense. If this happens, use a pump, but only until you release the strain. Excessive gland stimulation enhances lactation.
Weaning is not super easy but it is a nice, interesting and even fun process most of the time. So enjoy the time with your grown baby!
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