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Method of Weaning : To do this, substitute for a morning and afternoon nursing a bottle containing the lowest strength of formula. This is continued for a few days when the next strongest formula is substituted. By the time the baby is learning to take the bottle well and the stomach is becoming accustomed to the new food, a third bottle feeding can be substituted for a nursing. In this way continue very gradually to increase the number of feedings until the weaning is complete, and the formula has been reached upon which the infant thrives. Too much stress cannot be laid upon going slowly and cautiously in this process. It is always wiser to underfeed than to overfeed, and the bowels, weight and general condition must be carefully watched.
Rapid weaning is not desirable, but it is sometimes necessary. In this case, the child should be removed at once from the mother's breast, and the lowest formula substituted and gradually increased until the one which corresponds to the infant's needs is reached.
Hot Weather : It is not wise to wean an infant during the hot weather, because at this time there is more danger of intestinal disturbance, and the milk is more likely to be tainted.
Age for Weaning : With a normal breast fed infant, the weaning may take place from the ninth to the twelfth month. At this time the baby may be taught to take food from a spoon, but there is no serious objection to substituting a bottle if desired. Here again the same rules apply, and it is best to begin even at this age with a low formula, and increase it gradually up to the twelfth month, when the baby can take plain milk. A baby of nine or ten months should be started on the formula which is given in the tables for bottle fed infants, as proper for the fifth or sixth month. The strength of the formula can, however, be increased more rapidly than with younger babies.
Weaning should not be commenced when the infant is suffering from teething or any other illness.
Weaning is accomplished more easily if the child has been taught to take water from a nursing bottle or from a teaspoon before the actual weaning begins. This can be done easily after the sixth month and saves time and trouble later.
Great care must be used in selecting a healthy nurse. She should be examined carefully by a physician, and during the nursing period her surroundings and habits of life should be carefully regulated.
There are three important food elements in milk; the fat or butter, the proteids which form curds, and the milk sugar. These three elements exist in both cow's milk and mother's milk, and although the proteids of cow's milk differ chemically from those of mother's milk, yet for practical purposes this difference may here be disregarded. But assuming that the constituents of cow's milk and mother's milk are practically the same, the quantities of these three elements differ markedly. This is illustrated in the following table :
FATS PROTEIDS SUGAR
Mother's Milk, . . . .4 % 1.50 % 7 %
Cow's Milk, . . . . . .2 to 4 % 3.50 % 4.75 %
It will thus be seen that mother's milk contains less proteid matter than cow's milk and more sugar.