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The why, when, and how of weaning

A mother’s love for her children surges as they grow as does their nutrient requirement. As per the guidelines weaning should be started after 6 months. Before this, nutrients needed by the child were met by breast milk alone. Now it is time to shift the access to nutrients through other sources of food. Babies show signs of readiness to wean when they start becoming fussy, have increased hunger or weight issues.

As a first time parent, you will be filled with doubts and will never be confident about your instincts. I am sure that there would be frequent searches on ‘Google’: ‘When to start weaning?’, ‘Why there is a need to wean your child after 6 months?’, ‘How do I go about introducing solid foods to my baby?’, ‘Which cereal, vegetable or fruit should I start weaning my child’, ‘What should I do if my baby is not accepting a particular food?’.

These biggest dilemmas when you have to move your child from breast milk to weaning/solid foods need to be answered:

All You Need To Know About Weaning

  • When? – After 6 months. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months

Babies are allowed to wean at their own pace.

  • Why? – Increased nutritional requirements for growth and development and to meet deficient nutrient stores (iron stores).
  • How & What? – Start with a basic single ingredient (probably cereal, e.g.: rice carries a very low risk of causing allergies) and the baby will start adapting to it, then gradually add vegetables, fruits or dals to the diet, based on the baby’s acceptance

A word of advice: Take care not to overburden the baby, as their organs are not completely developed and can only digest the simplest compounds (emulsified fat, simple carbohydrates). Once your child reaches toddlerhood, it will be necessary to give him/her a wider variety of baby foods that offer the range of nutrients to help their growth.

This is the best age to develop food preferences, so choose carefully. Try to include food which adds variety, avoid foods with high sugar, salt & anything with high fiber, low fat or low calorie. There are various baby food recipes available which allow you to make changes in your babies’ diet. Starting to wean your child could become a mess with foods flying all over but you and your child will soon get accustomed to it.

A great alternative to increase the energy content and to lower the dietary bulk of traditionally prepared weaning food is by incorporation of Amylase Rich Food (ARF), mainly obtained from cereals. Preparation of ARF is very simple and can be done by mothers at home.

Preparation of Amylase Rich Food (ARF)

  • Take 250 g of wheat
  • Add 2-3 volumes of water
  • Soak it for 8 hrs
  • Drain excess water and germinate wheat in the dark for 24-48 hours
  • Sundry for 5-8 hours
  • Roast gently in the flat pan to remove water
  • Grind and powder the grains (ARF)
  • Store in airtight bottles/jars

Use 5 g (one teaspoon) of ARF, after cooking, to every feed

Here are a few simple recipes with which you can start weaning your baby:


Ingredients: Rice (35g), Green gram dhal (10g), Leafy vegetables (2 tsp), Fat (2 tsp),  Cumin (jeera).

Method: Clean rice and dhal and cook them in water with salt till the grains are soft and water is absorbed. Leafy vegetables can be added when the cereal/pulse is 3/4th done. Cumin is fried in fat and added towards the end.

Malted Ragi Porridge

Ingredients: Malted Ragi (30g), Roasted Groundnut (15g), Jaggery (20g).

Method: Powder the malted ragi, roasted groundnut, and jaggery. Add sufficient water and cook for a few minutes till done.

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