This Is How To Wean A Baby In Nigeria
Paediatricians recommend that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Thereafter, you should introduce complementary feeds, while you keep breastfeeding for as long as you can.
After about 6 months of breastfeeding (hopefully exclusive), it’s time to wean your baby and start offering solid food. During this period the most common question is how to wean a baby in Nigeria? Other concerns include how much milk should baby drink, what is the best time to start the weaning process and what foods to offer?
There’s no magic age for weaning your baby. As long as you and your little one are happy, you can continue breastfeeding for all of your baby’s first two years. It’s also worth noting that, given enough time, all babies will wean themselves naturally; gradually reducing the number of times they nurse while increasing the amount of solid food they eat; until eventually they are no longer breastfeeding. See the following useful tips below:
10 Tips For How To Wean A Baby In Nigeria
Pick the Perfect Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding exclusively until your baby is 6 months old, then serving a combination of solids and breast milk until she’s 1 year old. But ultimately, weaning is a personal decision and should be based on what’s best for your family. Perhaps you’re returning to work and need the flexibility of bottle-feeding, for instance.
Watch out for Signs of Readiness
Telltale signs that little trooper is ready for solids? Your baby should be able to do the following:
- hold his head in an upright position
- sit with support
- express interest in what you’re eating.
Also, your baby’s active tongue-thrust reflex must have disappeared or is in the process of disappearing. He/she may also act indifferent or cranky during routine breastfeeding sessions.
Set a Schedule
Check your calendar: Choosing a specific date for when you want to wean can help you strategically plan. Then allow yourself a full month to successfully complete weaning. This gives you and your baby a little extra breathing room should you experience obstacles and setbacks along the way.
Settle into a Routine
Easing into a weaning routine allows you and your baby to adjust more smoothly to the change. For instance, you may omit one breastfeeding session a week; probably the most inconvenient feeding for you or the one your baby’s least interested in. And then, gradually drop feedings until he/she is only using bottles or cups or eating solids.
Let Your Little One Lead
Some babies excel at weaning when they’re in control. If you’re fine with letting your baby call the shots, rely on the tried-and-true “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method. In a nutshell, you nurse when your child expresses interest, but you don’t actually initiate it. It’s not the quickest weaning strategy, but it ensures your baby’s needs are met. Some people refer to this as baby-led weaning.
Switch Up Your Routine
Let Dad, Grandma, or another caregiver assist with weaning. If your baby resists a bottle from you, La Leche League International recommends seeing if your baby will accept a bottle from someone else while you’re in another room. Or if you’re the one serving the bottle, change up your routine. If you nurse in your bedroom, try nursing in the living room. Consider holding him in another position. If this doesn’t work, revert to your old routine, then try again in a few weeks.
For Older Babies
If your baby is 9 months or older, it’s best to wean directly to a cup so you don’t have to deal with getting her off the bottle in a few months. And if your baby is older than 1 year old, wear complicated clothing; such as a dress with a zipper down the back or a buttoned-up shirt to help her wean. Limit your baby’s nursing time and regularly comfort her with your undivided attention.
Another reason to take it slow: Rapid weaning can cause engorgement. Why? Your milk ducts miss the memo that they need to reduce milk production. And all that milk has nowhere to go. If you’re engorged, soothe the pain with cool ice packs or acetaminophen. Or reach for your trusty breast pump. You can serve the pumped milk in a bottle or mix it with your baby’s cereal.
Understand Your Emotions
Your baby isn’t the only one who has to adjust while weaning. You too must deal with a whirlwind of emotions — some moms want their bodies back; others feel rejected when their baby passes up the breast. Though you may be pleased to end nursing once and for all, it’s totally natural to feel pangs of nostalgia about your baby getting older. Your best bet? Embrace her independence, know that weaning is an emotional experience, and talk to other breastfeeding mothers who can relate.
Serve Up Nutrition
For baby’s first foray into solid foods, most parents start with pap or ogi baba. Some also offer 1 teaspoon of single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal (such as rice cereal) mixed with 4-5 teaspoons of breast milk. Once he/she gets the hang of pap and cereal, you can introduce pureed veggies, fruits, and meats.
The AAP recommends trying one new food at a time and waiting at least 2-3 days before starting another to monitor any allergic reactions. Once he/she reaches 9-12 months old, your baby might enjoy small portions of finely chopped or mashed finger foods.
To wean a baby in Nigeria, the very common starting food is pap, or what we locally call pap, Ogi or Akamu.
Also see this list of Nigerian foods that are great for weaning babies.
Also read: 5 Practical Steps To Produce More Breastmilk