Weaning tips

​Weaning tips

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. 

Starting on solids 

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. 

Vary the form and texture of food with your baby's age

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What and how much to feed 

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.​ 

Know the serving sizes 

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.​

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Note: 

*All weights listed are for edible portions only. 

**Rice bowl      ***250ml       + 10-inch plate 

Sample Daily Menus​ for your child

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.

6 - 9 months old: smooth and lumpy food


10 - 12 months old: mashed, chopped and cut food


How to introduce solids 

Establishing a routine whilst allowing your baby to enjoy his food 

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: 

  • Set a time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. 
  • Seat your baby in the same place at mealtimes, preferably at the dining table. Put him in a high chair. Remember to pull the straps on the high chair firmly so that he cannot climb his way out.​ 
  • Minimise distractions. Keep toys away and do not switch on the television. 

Feeding baby 

  • Start your baby on a single-ingredient food. Give him only half a spoonful of the food. Bring the spoon towards his mouth and if he opens his mouth, place the food gently at the back of the tongue. Remove the spoon and see how he learns to swallow. 
  • Give your baby sufficient time to finish his food. Do not force him if he is not hungry or is not interested. If he rejects the food, give him milk and try weaning again during the next meal. It may take your baby up to 8-10 times before he accepts a new food. Many babies have a tongue-thrusting reflex ​​when trying new solids, but this does not mean that he does not like the food. 
  • Use the above table on “Recommended number of servings per day for infants 6-1​2 months” ​to transit your baby towards eating regular meals and snacks from all the food groups in age-appropriate portions. 
  • Teach him how to feed himself. Allow him to pick up food with his fingers or a spoon and to put it in his mouth. This will help develop his motor skills. Teach him to drink from a sipper cup. Do not be fussy about neatness during mealtimes. 
  • Introduce one new food every 3-4 days. 

Prevent choking 

  • Never leave your baby alone when he is eating. Always watch him to make sure he does not choke. 
  • Ensure he sits upright and is not slouched over while eating. 
  • Ensure that the food is properly pureed, mashed or scraped so that it is easy for your baby to swallow without choking. As he gets older, food should still be soft, but chunkier and textured to help him learn how to chew properly. 

​​​​​​Avoid: 

  • ​Hard food such as nuts, raw carrots, apples. These should be grated or cooked until soft. 
  • Food with small bones. Fish bones should be removed. 
  • Small, round food such as grapes and berries. These should be cut into bite-size portions and served.

Food preparation 

  • ​​Food hygiene in food preparation is very important. 
  • Wash your hands before and after preparing your baby’s food. 
  • Have a designated space in the kitchen for food preparation. Clean surfaces before and after preparing food. 
  • Do not use cracked or chipped utensils (these have a higher chance of harbouring germs). 
  • Do not mix raw food, especially meats, with cooked food. Meats, if used, must be cooked thoroughly. 
  • If you re-heat food, make sure you bring it to full boil for a few minutes. 
  • Discard unfinished food from your baby’s bowl. 
  • Keep food storage areas pest-free. 
  • Cover rubbish bins properly and empty them regularly. 

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