Most doctors and medical experts recommend that a baby be fed only breast milk for the first 6 months of their life. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first few months can decrease the likelihood of your baby getting a number of illnesses. These illnesses include infections, rashes, allergies, asthma, vision and hearing troubles, and stomach problems. Nothing is better suited to supply the nutritional needs of your baby than breast milk and it is the best thing for your baby. Experts also recommend continuing to breast feed until the child is at least 12 months old. This will be after he starts weaning, which is usually around six to eight months of age. You can breastfeed longer and there is no harm in breast feeding for as long as you and your child want.
What is weaning?
Weaning is the process of breastfeeding your baby less and eventually stop using breast milk entirely. You supplement the breast milk with solid foods. Weaning starts naturally and is the time where your baby begins to need more than just milk and will start craving actual solid foods. They will start to breastfeed less during this time and this is the time moms usually start introducing baby foods, cereals, and formula.
When should weaning begin?
It is important to talk with your child’s doctor about when is the best time to wean your baby and how to best go about it. Here are some things that can help make the process smoother.
- Introducing solid foods: When you child is able to sit on their own in a high chair and are beginning to learn chewing motions with their mouths you can start introducing baby food.
- Weaning from breast milk: If you cannot breast feed for 6-8 months at least you will need to supplement with formula. Infants under 6 months old cannot eat solid foods and need milk or formula.
Why early weaning be avoided?
Some problems and concerns can arise if you wean your baby too soon:
- Digestive problems: Babies cannot digest solid food until 6-8 months of age, and trying to add solid food before then can lead to diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, and other issues.
- Skin problems: Early weaning can lead to issues such as skin swelling, rash, peeling, redness, hives and itching. Skin issues can become a major problem in infants and can lead to infection.
- Excess weight gain: Your baby could gain too much weight from eating higher calorie foods before their body can handle them. This can lead to weight issues and many health problems later in life.
- Nutritional problems: Your baby could drink too much water and not get enough fat and nutrients in their food. This can lead to nutritional and developmental concerns as their body lacks the building blocks for growth.
Choosing to breastfeed if you are able to is an important part of healthy development and growth for any infant.
The following was a post by Sarah Jo Lorenz-Coryell