Weaning - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development
important not only for you to give your baby nutritious foods and drinks but
also for you and your baby to interact with each other during mealtimes. These
things help your baby's mind and body grow. Breast milk (with supplements) and formula give babies
all the calories and nutrients they need until they are 6 months old. After
that, babies need other nutrients and energy from solid foods. You can
wean gradually or abruptly in order to get your baby
what he or she needs for growth. When you make choices about weaning, always
think of your baby's emotional needs, age, and readiness as well as your own
The weaning process
The American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends that babies be breast-fed for at least a year and as long
after a year as mother and child desire.1
- If you are not breast-feeding and your baby is younger than 12
months of age, use
iron-fortified formula. Do not offer your baby cow's
milk.1 The iron in cow's milk is not well-absorbed,
and iron is necessary for healthy development. Also, some babies may be more
likely to react to the
protein in cow's milk.
- Most children need whole milk when they are 1 to 2 years of age. But your doctor may recommend 2% milk if your child is overweight or if there is a family history of obesity, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
- Switching from breast milk to formula may cause
differences in how often your baby feeds and a change
in the color and consistency of your baby's stools.
When you have decided that you and your child are ready
to give up breast- or bottle-feeding, develop a plan for what you will do. Talk
with other family members and get their help.
In general, you can
start giving your baby solid foods at 4 to 6 months of age.
Feed your baby at the table with the rest of the family. Follow your doctor's
advice on when and what to feed your baby. 1 Usually, the more
solid foods a baby eats, the less breast milk or formula he or she needs, and
the easier it is for your baby to switch from the breast or bottle. Be sure your child gets the recommended vitamin and minerals for children.
Weaning from breast- or bottle-feeding can be done gradually or abruptly.
signs that your baby is ready to wean. To gradually stop breast- or
bottle-feeding while you
offer cup-feeding and/or solid foods, give up the least important feeding
first, which is usually the midday one. Then stop the late afternoon and
morning feedings. Stop the most important feeding (the one that provides the
baby the greatest emotional comfort) last: this is usually the first or last
feeding of the day. Whether you are weaning or not, the last feeding should
gradually be moved up so that by 4 months it is no longer at bedtime and other
soothing rituals can be established. Pay attention to whether your baby is
sucking for comfort or hunger. If your baby uses a pacifier, think about
replacing it with a blanket or a stuffed toy for comfort.