Question: Do I have to wait 6 months to wean baby?
Reply : At present WHO guidelines recommend that babies should be breastfed exclusively until 6 months at least and that weaning should not be any earlier, unless of course if baby shows signs of being ready to wean. At 6 months, your baby's immune system is at that point when the risk of an allergic reaction is lower. Also babies at this stage begin to respond to small amounts of food well. Mainly breast milk or formula on their own is not able to provide iron and other key nutrients which can be obtained from solid foods. Solid foods also enable baby to develop facial and mouth muscles vital for speech development later on. BUT in case you or your family have a history of allergies such as asthma, eczema and the like, delayed weaning decreases the chances of your baby getting these conditions.
Question: How does one start giving baby the first spoon?
Before you give the first spoonful, keep in mind that it is a brand new experience for your baby, in fact a strange one! Both baby and mother should be sitting comfortably. Start when baby is hungry but not very hungry. It can be time-consuming in the beginning and sometimes every session can take up a lot of your time â€“ be patient and don't give up. Give your baby your undivided attention and use encouraging words to get her to eat. Start with small serving sizes of one to two teaspoons and offer more only if baby shows interest. Never force feed, especially if baby is refusing the food. Try again the next day.
Question : When is the best time to introduce new foods to baby?
Introduce new foods when your baby is least fussy and you are relaxed. That could be in the middle of the day (lunch time feed) or after her morning nap. When your baby is not too tired or sleepy she is less likely to resist food, let alone try new ones. Minimize distractions as well. Offer half spoonfuls since most of the food will dribble out of her mouth anyway. Give your baby time to learn the new reflex of taking in food from the spoon.
Question : Apart from store-bought cereals what else can I offer to my baby?
Introduce and develop your baby's taste for vegetable and fruit purees, tiny feeds of one food at a time so that you can monitor the reactions. In the early stages fruits and vegetables that do not require cooking such as banana, avocado, papaya, mango etc can be served raw. That way you are giving your baby food with all the vitamins and minerals intact instead of them getting lost during the cooking process.