Cross-cultural weaning in a South African context - Part 2

Posted by Kath Megaw on 24/02/2015

Weaning suggestions for different cultures

The great thing about all these different cultures is that we have access to such a variety of foods that can be used for weaning, many of which have wonderful health benefits for our little ones.  Here are some ideas for moms of different South African cultures:


First foods: Start with 1-3 teaspoons plain soft cooked vegetables once a day. Good vegetables are

  • Sweet potato (Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Ndebele, Afrikaans, Indian)
  • Amadumbe (Zulu)
  • Pumpkin leaves or spinach with fibrous stalks removed (Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Ndebele)
  • Pumpkin and butternut squash (Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Ndebele, Afrikaans, Indian)
  • Green beans and potato (Afrikaans)
  • Beetroot (Sotho).

Avoid cabbage and onion for now as they can cause gas in little tummies. After a few days when baby is used to this meal, give vegetables twice a day.


Second foods: After one or two weeks of vegetables, start to give fruit as a second or third meal. You can give fruit alone or mix it with some of the sweeter vegetables. Stick to fruits that are in season in your area, such as mashed papaya, avocado and apple in winter or mashed banana and peaches in summer.


Third foods: Now is the time to start introducing grains that are gentle on little tummies.

  • Maize meal (which has the added bonus of being fortified with iron and vitamin A) (Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Ndebele, Afrikaans)
  • Sorghum (Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Ndebele)
  • Millet ( Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Ndebele) and finger millet (Indian)
  • Fermented grains such as mageu, ting or si (Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Xhosa) are easy to digest, are hygienically safe, contain beneficial bacteria, and improve iron absorption which can be a problem with maize porridges.
  • Rice (Indian, Cape Malay) can cause constipation.


Fourth foods: When baby is eating three meals a day and is happy with solids, you can start to introduce protein foods. When introducing a protein food, wait 3 days between each new food to establish tolerance and allergic reactions.

  • Smooth peanut butter mixed with porridge or vegetables (Ndebele, Sotho),
  • Soft cooked egg
  • Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, mutton, oxtail (Sotho) and fish with bones removed (Cape Malay)
  • Stewing is a popular cooking method in all South African cultures, and is ideal for softening meats
  • Chicken feet (Zulu, Ndebele, Xhosa, Sotho) and tripe (Ndebele) should be included in moderation – these are high in fat and lower in protein than other meats
  • Legumes such as lentils, dhall and red kidney beans (Indian),  porridge mixed with butter beans (Zulu) or samp mixed with sugar beans (Xhosa)
  • Soft fermented dairy such as amasi/maas (Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Ndebele, Afrikaans) or yoghurt (Indian)


Spices: When little one is used to a broad spectrum of foods, slowly start to introduce flavours that you usually use in cooking.  If you eat heavily flavoured foods while breastfeeding, baby will be used to the taste from your breastmilk and should adapt well to cinnamon and clove (Afrikaans) or mild spices (Indian, Cape Malay, Zulu. Avoid adding sugar and salt.


Finger foods: Small frikkadels (Afrikaans, Cape Malay), maize dumplings (Sotho), large pieces of unsalted biltong pieces to gum on (Afrikaans) and rusks that can melt in baby’s mouth (Afrikaans) are awesome South African finger foods to develop fine motor skills and facial muscles.


Recipes that compliment this discussion:

Blended Carrot and Lentil mash

Amazi milk and Banana smoothie

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