When a baby is born, he remains on her mother’s milk for the first few months of life. As he starts growing, his appetite also starts increasing and requires the introduction of solid foods step-by-step. This gradual transition from breast milk to solid food is known as weaning.
When babies start weaning, they are given different types of foods to develop the taste for new foods. When fed with a spoon or hand, babies also learn to coordinate their lips, jaws, and tongue. It is also a great socializing activity as family members enjoy taking turns in feeding a weaning baby.
Advantages of Weaning That You Must Know
Weaning is the most important transitional phase for a baby as he starts tasting and eating foods that add nutrients to his body. The need to wean babies generally starts from the age of 6 months and can go on till that of 12 months to 2 years depending on the baby’s intake, and the type of weaning foods and portions. But since his stomach is still very delicate, he needs food which is easy on his digestive system. The foods that parents can start with once a day are cooked and mashed vegetables, soft fruits, and baby cereals mixed with breastmilk or formula.
The importance of weaning a baby at the right time cannot be stressed enough as it is the way to the all-round development.
1. Babies Start Becoming Self-Dependent
As babies grow, they start experimenting with food by trying to eat it themselves, which can be messy. But this promotes better hand-mouth coordination. Thus, it is important to encourage babies to eat on their own.
2. Personality Development
He starts developing his likes and dislikes towards food starting now. This, slowly but eventually, shapes his food choices. Since the baby is now included in mealtimes along with other family members, he gains more confidence and his personality improves.
3. No More Making Special Food
Babies learn to taste different foods apart from milk and food specially prepared for them. You can also include baby versions of your meal in his diet and introduce him to what you are eating. If you don’t feel like preparing a different meal, you can always opt for a meal which is suited to your baby’s delicate appetite.
4. Free Time for Mommy
There is a break from feeding duties, so now the mother can have some time for herself. No routine breastfeeding and breast pumping mean that she has more time to herself. This is the time to get the other parent also actively involved in the baby’s feeding sessions.
5. Balanced Diet
New, nutrient-rich foods mean that your baby has now access to all the nutrients required for growth and development. With breastmilk no longer being the only source of nutrition, your baby’s body can have its share of iron, protein, minerals, etc., from a varied set of food items.
6. Builds Important Developmental Skills
From learning how to coordinate his tongue, lips and jaw movement to chewing and swallowing, babies learn important motor and developmental skills during weaning. They also learn to control hand-eye and hand-mouth coordination as they pick up and eat food on their own.
The benefits of weaning far transcend just the nutritional needs of your baby. It sets the edifice of healthy eating habits, builds his food likings, develops social and motor skills, and gives you a break from being the only source of food for your little one.
A happy weaning to all new mothers and babies out there!