Weaning your baby is a crucial moment in your little one’s life. For this reason, the process must be carried out with patience and bearing in mind that you could reject new foods, at least initially.Weaning is the process by which breast milk is withdrawn. This step can be taken at different ages, because how and when to start it depends on each family. In any case, it should be a gradual and loving experience.
It is influenced by biological, social and cultural aspects. Science has not established how and when the ideal weaning should be done, although it is known that exclusive breastfeeding is very necessary up to 6 months and, according to the World Health Organization, it is not recommended to exceed 2 years.
A variable process
In Inuit culture, for example, breastfeeding is practiced until around the age of 7. In Western cultures, on the other hand, such long lactations are not common. When and how to finish is a decision that has to do with social aspects and with each mother and her baby.
However, international entities indicate that breastfeeding should extend up to 2 years at most. It is also recommended that up to 6 months the child be fed only breast milk, exclusively, since the liquid has all the necessary nutrients for that stage.
Types of weaning a baby
Weaning of the baby can be of different types. The forced is one that must be done for medical reasons or other force majeure that prevent continuing breastfeeding. Examples of these are prolonged mom-baby separation or infectious diseases.
Voluntary weaning is at the request of the child or at the request of the mother. In the first case, it may happen that the child does not want to continue taking the breast or gradually loses interest in it. On the other hand, in the second, the mother decides to end breastfeeding for personal or work reasons.
It should be borne in mind that the baby may express displeasure at weaning if it has not been his initiative. It is a process that requires effort and the ideal is to carry it out gradually, with a lot of patience.
How to introduce the first solid foods?
When to start solid foods and which should be the first has changed over time. In general, pediatricians recommend that the baby begin to ingest solids when he can keep his head up and open his mouth when he feels food being approached. This is around 4 to 6 months.
The baby who has not eaten solids before may manifest difficulties and even rejection of his first meals. It is advisable to give it half a tablespoon at a time, to make it easier for you to move the food from the front of your mouth to the back. You can give a few tablespoons of breast milk before the meal, so that it does not taste so strange.
It is not good to force the baby to eat. The important thing is to try singing to him and playing games that help him gradually acquire the new learning. And if he has not eaten enough to feed himself, he should be given a feeding from a breast or bottle.
There are two ways to introduce the first solid foods in the baby’s diet: the traditional one, which includes baby food at the beginning and then foods with other textures. And the self-regulated by the baby, in which they are allowed to take pieces of food with their little hands, put them in their mouths and taste them, to adapt to solid food.
Tips for weaning the baby
The weaning of the baby must be progressive. This process of neglecting breast milk as the main food is not the same for all little ones. In children under 12 months it is carried out by gradually reducing the intake; On the other hand, in those older than that age, the method of distraction tends to be used, such as playing games or going for a walk.
It is recommended to avoid the resounding no. You can tell him that he will take the breast when he gets home or distract him with a toy that catches his attention and makes him forget, for a moment, his urge to suckle. When the baby has already developed some understanding, it can be negotiated; for example, you will only drink breast milk before sleeping.
It is important to note that the weaning of the baby should not begin at certain crucial moments in his life. For example, when you have started daycare, have gone through a recent move or are experiencing the arrival of a little brother. Nor should it be done during so-called growth crises.
It is important to note that weaning is stressful for the child. For this reason, dedicating compensation times when the stakes are suppressed is beneficial.