You have breastfed your baby for 6 months and now you want to start him on solids. Here is how you can do it.
The process of switching an infant from a milk-only diet to a mixed one that includes other solid food is called complementary feeding or weaning. Parents are recommended to introduce a good balance of solid food to their babies by 6 months of age.
From 6 months of age, your baby is just about to learn how to swallow food. While milk should still be his staple, you can start by giving your child 3-5 baby spoonfuls of a single ingredient food.
Most parents begin weaning their babies with iron-fortified rice cereals. These cereals are fortified with iron to help meet the baby’s increased need for dietary iron at this time.
Vegetables and fruit can also be included to provide vitamin C which enhances iron absorption.
You can also give him porridge blended with mashed or pureed vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot. Introduce other cereals like wheat and mixed cereals when he is a little older. If your baby is eating well, gradually increase it to a meal. To see if your baby is eating well, look at his bowel movement, his weight and his height. By about 6 - 7 months, you can slowly introduce some protein food.
If your baby has a strong family history of allergy or has a personal history of other allergic problems, food allergy is more likely to occur. If you are concerned, consult your doctor.
The form and texture of each food should also vary with the age of your baby. Do not add sugar, salt and seasonings into the food. Salt cannot be added to baby's food till after 12 months as the kidneys may not be able to excrete the high salt load. Natural spices can be used in cooking to expose your child to a wide variety of tastes and flavours.
Start your baby on solid food gradually. Use
My Healthy Plate as a guide. There is no particular order for food introduction. However, most parents begin weaning their babies with plain iron-fortified rice cereal.
Introduce one new food every 3-4 days with the aim of giving your baby food from all the basic food groups eventually.
The table here shows the recommended number of servings per day from each food group for infants aged 6-12 months.
Start with giving only ½ teaspoon of solids at first. Slowly increase the amount to 1-2 tablespoons of solids, 2-3 times a
day. Prepare your child's food with no added salt or sugar. Oil may be recommended occasionally to ensure that the food has sufficient calorie density. Once your baby starts on solids, he may also need some extra fluids such as water.
The table below will help you get familiar with serving sizes of the various food groups. This will help you in meal planning for your little one.
*All weights listed are for edible portions only.
**Rice bowl ***250ml + 10-inch plate
The sample daily menus below will give you an idea of the food you can prepare for your little one.
When solids are first introduced, parents can feed your child just once a day. When eating of solids is more established, then work towards two meals per day, then three meals per day. Infants at 6-9 months may be taking only two meals of solids per day, rather than three meals.
Your baby may be ready for solids but he may not want to eat as he is not used to it yet. You need to establish a routine for eating. Once he is used to it, the process becomes easier and enjoyable for your baby.
Here are some tips on how to establish a routine:
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This article was last reviewed on
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
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