The Process of Weaning a Child from Breastfeeding is discussed in this article. We hope you find it informative and helpful for your research.
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Weaning means the gradual replacement of breast milk by a good mixed diet so that good quality proteins, minerals, and Vitamins replace those of breast milk.
The methods used in some parts of the world today have been the outcome of varying cultural, agricultural, and industrial developments. It is comparatively recently that the baby has been weaned as early as months.
Weaning at this age has become possible in areas where there are strict public health regulations regarding the production and distribution of milk.
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Clean, germ-free milk is now available to all in these areas. Commercial preparations of dried milk powders, now used in Baby foods, should be made available.
There is no danger of infection from breast milk, but there is danger from unclean cow’s milk. For many children, breastfeeding up to the age of 18 months to two years is necessary for growth and survival, but as the sole source of food for the growing infant after the age of 6 months, breast milk is inadequate in protein, calories, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A.
While the quantity of protein in milk may not be sufficient entirely to support growth after 6 months, breastfeeding will assure the infant of some high-quality protein that would not be available from other foods.
In some parts of the world, breast milk is supplemented at about 6 months with one of the following: a gruel made from ground millet or maize meal, chewed banana, baked bananas, baked potatoes, or cooked pumpkin.
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These supplements provide the infant with additional calories and perhaps a little protein, but they do not supply iron, vitamin C, vitamin A or enough of the additional protein needed at this age. Germinating millet or sorghum are sometimes used. They contribute to vitamin C.
Pastoral tribes often give cow’s milk at an early age. Where clean, fresh supplies of cow’s milk are available and can be afforded, it is good food for all growing children.
It will increase the protein and vitamin A content of the diet. Dried skim milk powder can be bought in some, places, but it needs to be prepared with a knowledge of quantities and of hygiene. Care must be used not to dilute the milk and to keep the milk free of infection.
Mixed into gruels and soups, the dried skim milk increases protein and calcium content, but skim milk will not add vitamin A. Carotene-rich foods can be added to the staple food used.
Mashed pawpaw, mango, yellow sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach, and other dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of carotene.
It is thought that children do not absorb carotene readily and large quantities may be needed to supply enough vita: min A. Egg yolk will supply several nutrients, vitamin A, some fat, protein, and iron. Eggs are a very valuable food for children of all ages.
Fish will supply good protein. Where cow’s milk, eggs, and fish are scarce, good quality vegetable proteins, for example, those of groundnuts, soya bean, and elusive millet should be used as a supplement to the local food. Some edible local oil should be included every day.
In conclusion, when the child has become accustomed to a good mixed diet in addition to breast milk, the baby can then gradually be taken off breastfeeding.
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The actual age at which breastfeeding will stop will depend on whether other milk is available and whether it can be afforded.