Weaning is the gradual replacement of breastfeeding with other foods and ways of nurturing. The weaning process begins when you start to introduce first foods for baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for ideal nutrition, your baby should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Nursing should continue after the introduction of solids for at least 12 months, and longer if mother and baby wish. The World Health Organization recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, and that breastfeeding be continued for up to two years of age or beyond.
Weaning or complementary feeding gives the child other nutritious foods in addition to breast milk. These should complement rather than replace breast milk. Weaning is essential to prevent the baby’s growth from faltering.
How Long Should Babies Be Breastfed?
Ayurveda advises that a baby should be breastfed for at least six months of age. During this initial six months, it’s important to make sure that mom is having a nutritious diet otherwise the baby won’t receive proper nutrition. Moms should make wise food choices. If the baby can’t digest and assimilate the milk properly, it will result in colic and loose stools.
In Ayurveda the age classification in children is done on the basis of the food they eat. There are three classifications.
- Ksheerapa – These are children up to one year of age. Their main diet is milk.
- Ksheerannada – These are children up to 2 years of age on a diet of both milk and semisolid food.
- Annada – These are children who take solid food as their main food.
What are the foods advised for babies under 12 months? Here is a list of foods that are easy on your baby’s little tummy. They also make great options for weaning.
Weaning Tips: Easy To Digest First Foods For Babies
First: Fresh Fruit Juices
Start with clear and fresh fruit juices. Choose a fruit that’s available throughout the year. Apples are usually considered the best pick. Peel an apple, cut it into small pieces and boil it in a pan. Mash the apple with a spoon and put it in a strainer. Strain out all the juice and collect it in a container. Cool to room temperature and only after it’s cooled, offer spoonfuls of this clear liquid to your baby. This is a great start to first foods.
Next: Introduce Fruits
After your baby gets accustomed to fruit juices, gradually start him or her on fruits. An overripe banana is every child’s favorite weaning food. Mash it up with a spoon or fork and offer it to your little one. You may also try fruits like papaya, mango and chickoo or sapodilla. Introduce only one fruit at a time.
And then… Vegetables
You can start with a mashed potato at first. Once the baby is 7 months old, you can introduce carrots, pumpkins and bottle gourd. All should be mashed well by hand.
Make clear vegetable soups. Boil the veggies or pressure-cook them. Mash them and put them in a strainer to strain out the clear liquid. Add a pinch of salt if needed. Eight months is the ideal month to start your baby on soups.
Add spinach and greens during the eighth and ninth months. Clean the greens first with a vegetable wash and then boil them in water. Let the water evaporate so it forms a thick paste and give the green paste to your baby.
After eight months your baby can have cooked foods like rice and dal preparations along with nutritious vegetables. Here’s a simple Ayurvedic recipe that’s easy for everyone to digest, including baby. It’s made with rice, moong beans and vegetables.
A few notes about the recipe… This recipe uses white rice though brown rice is considered healthier. An introduction to brown rice however must be gradual due to its increased fiber content and hence difficulty in digestion for babies. Moong dal (moong beans) is highly nutritious and can be easily digested by babies. You can find them in the international section of your grocery store or at most health food stores. Ajwain is carom seeds and these are the best pick for baby’s colic and indigestion. Pumpkin, carrots, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, spinach or fenugreek (methi) leaves can be digested well along with dal. These are great choices for baby’s first foods.
Kitchari Recipe For Babies (after 8 months)
1 tsp ghee
2 Tbsp organic white rice
1/2 Tbsp moong dal, husked split green gram
pinch of turmeric powder
pinch of ajwain powder
pinch of black pepper powder (optional)
pinch of salt
Wash the rice and dal together and soak for at least 60 minutes in water. In a pressure cooker add one cup of water along with the rice-dal mixture. Just before cooking add freshly grated or chopped vegetables. On a medium heat pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Let the pressure go off. While the rice is still hot mash the rice with a spoon or ladle. Add the turmeric, ajwain, salt and pepper powder. Mix well. Add 1 tsp of ghee in the end. If required add a little warm water in the end for desired consistency. Serve warm since warm food digests better for babies.