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At six months of age, your baby will soon be ready for his first introduction to food. Here are some tried and tested tips for you to introduce solid food to your baby.
Now that your baby has completed 6 months, he is ready to start solids and you can introduce him to the wonderful world of food. And, you must! As he is now growing rapidly, the nutritional needs of your little one cannot be met with breast milk or formula alone. It is time to slowly get your baby on solids as you keep on breastfeeding for as long as both baby and you desire.
This process, of switching an infant from a milk-only diet to a mixed one that includes other solid food, is called complementary feeding. If this is your first child, you will have many questions regarding the introduction of solid food. Read on to pick up some practical tips to get you started and your baby will be eating solid foods in no time.
Your baby might be ready for solids but remember that your baby’s first food must suit his ability to eat. We want to be very careful of choking hazards so keep the texture smooth and runny to help your infant enjoy the process of learning to eat. As he develops the ability to chew and bite, vary the texture to allow him to experience a wider variety of food.
Rice is a good first-food when introducing solid foods, as it is least likely to cause any food allergies or adverse reaction. After that, add on grains such as fine oat, barley, and wheat porridges to provide additional energy. Start with iron-fortified rice cereal as it meets the baby’s urgent need for iron at this stage. Any lack of iron in the first two years of life may cause anaemia - a blood condition that delays your child’s ability to learn, play, and stay healthy.
Introduce soft mashed fruit and cooked strained vegetables. There is no recommended order but your baby will naturally enjoy sweeter and milder choices much better than bitter and tart varieties.
Soft protein-rich foods that are easy to feed initially are soybean curd, cooked and mashed lentils, and finely flaked fish. As your baby’s ability to chew and bite improves, add small amounts of finely minced meat and finely shredded poultry to his diet.
To encourage your little one to appreciate and accept natural flavours, do not add salt, sugar, and spice in preparing his food.
In the earliest phase, the process of introducing solids aims to help your child learn to swallow food. Start with a teaspoon of solid food and as your baby grows and develops, increase the amount gradually to build up to a small meal that will replace a feed. Use the feeding guide to plan a menu that includes a variety of food in the right portion, to meet nutrient needs. When you introduce solids to your child, milk should still remain a staple part of his diet. One of the simplest ways to know your baby is eating enough is to monitor his weight and length and compare it with infant growth charts.
Number of Servings / Day
Examples of 1 Serving
Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread
1 - 2
(Fruit should not be used to replace vegetables in the diet or vice versa because they contain different kinds of nutrients)
Meat and Others
Breast milk / follow on infant formula
(Do include the recommended milk serving in addition to the Meat and Others serving needs)
* rice bowl** 250ml mug*** 250ml cup+ 10-inch plate
Pick the best time of the day when he is alert and not too hungry. Usually, a mid-morning feed is a good time for most babies. Later, add on solid food to baby’s menu to mimic meal and snack times and, train him to settle into a regular meal pattern.
When feeding your baby, make sure it’s an enjoyable experience. Seat baby in a safe high chair and minimise distractions. Allow sufficient time to complete the meal and do not force your baby if he is not hungry or interested in eating.
Learning to eat is a big achievement for little ones. Place a small amount of smooth and runny rice cereal about half a teaspoon in a rounded baby spoon. Bring the spoon towards the baby’s mouth and if he opens his mouth, place the food gently at the back of the tongue. Withdraw the spoon and allow the baby to learn to swallow.
As the baby becomes confident, increase the portion gradually. Use the feeding guide to estimate a suitable portion for your baby’s meal or snack.
Encourage your child to learn to feed himself. Allow him to pick up food with his fingers or a spoon and learn to put it in his mouth. Teach him to drink from a sipper cup and then, transit to a regular cup.
Always serve your baby clean and safe food and supervise your baby during feeding. Make sure that the texture of the solid food you are serving is suitable for your baby’s eating ability. Avoid food that may cause choking.
Introduce one new food at a time. Continue to feed your baby the same food for three days in a row and observe your baby for any adverse effects such as the eruption of rash or diarrhoea.
If your baby tolerates the food well, then add on another new item to the menu. If there is a history of food allergy in the family, take particular care to avoid introducing known allergens. Over the course of time, your baby will be exposed to many flavours and tastes, and this will allow him to accept new food more often.
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This article was last reviewed on
Thursday, February 20, 2020
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