After seeing the signs baby is ready for solid food, a parent starts the baby weaning process.

By Health Promotion Board in collaboration with A/Prof Mary Daniel Lourdes, Head & Senior Consultant, Clinical Services, Department of Child Development, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

At What Age Should My Baby Start Eating Solid Food?

You should start introducing baby weaning foods after your baby is 6 months of age. However, there’s no need to stick stubbornly to this age for babies to start eating solid food. Your baby is the best person to let you know when to start solid food for babies.

Signs Your Baby Is Ready for Solid Food

Here are some signs baby is ready for solid food:

  1. Your baby can sit up well against the back of a chair and hold his head upright with some support.
  2. He shows interest in food, looking around or even reaching out for your food when you’re eating.
  3. He opens his mouth for an incoming spoon and can close his lips around it.
  4. He wants to chew and put objects in his mouth.
  5. He seems hungry, even after you feed him milk (breast or formula)

If the little one keeps pushing the spoon out with his tongue or has difficulty swallowing solids, then it’s not time to start feeding your baby solids just yet! Try again in a week. It’s normal for food to spill out from the sides of your baby’s mouth initially. This will improve as he develops better control of his oral muscles.

Related: Help Your Baby Develop

How to Start Feeding Your Baby

Once your baby starts exhibiting all the above signs that baby is ready for solid food, what should you do next?

Milk is the main component

Milk, whether breast milk or formula milk, should remain the main component—and the main source of nutrition—of your baby’s meal plan for the time being, until he is about 10 to 12 months old. When your baby is about 6-9 months old, solid foods are supposed to complement your baby’s milk feeds and not replace them just yet!

Related: An Eating Guide for Breastfeeding Mothers

baby drinking either breast milk or formula milk from a baby bottle, because milk should still be the main source of nutrition for a baby when introducing solid foods.>

Start with small amounts of solids

1 to 2 teaspoons are enough when you’re just starting out. This is the first time your baby is eating something new, and the aim is to give your baby just a tiny taste of what’s to come.

Slowly increase the amount of solid food to 1 to 2 tablespoons, 2 to 3 times a day. As your baby gets used to the weaning, you can gradually increase portion sizes to a full meal, which can replace one of his milk feeds. Once your baby turns about 10-12 months old, you can offer him three full meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) of solids per day.

Don’t rush the process! Let your little one decide how much milk (breast milk or formula) or solid food he wants.

Related: Healthy Start For Your Baby

How Much Solid Food to Offer Your Baby?

When your baby is ready for a few more mouthfuls, refer to the table below for the recommended number of servings of each food group your baby should have per day.

Recommended Number of Servings Per Day (6 to 12 months old)

Food groups

Recommended number of servings per day

Brown rice and wholemeal bread

1 — 2

Fruit

½

Vegetables

½

Meat & Others

½

​Dairy
1 ½

If you’re unsure on what counts as one serving, here are some examples!

Rice & Alternatives:

  • ½ bowl of brown rice/rice (100g)
  • ½ bowl of noodles, spaghetti or beehoon (100g)
  • 1 large potato (180g)

Fruit

  • 1 small apple, orange, pear or mango (130g)
  • 1 wedge pineapple, papaya or watermelon (130g)
  • 1 medium banana

Vegetable

  • ¾ mug or a small rice bowl of cooked leafy vegetables (100g)
  • ¾ mug or a small rice bowl of cooked non-leafy vegetables (100g)
  • ¼ round dinner plate of vegetables

Meat & Alternatives:

  • 1 palm-sized piece of fish, lean meat or skinless poultry (90g)
  • 2 small blocks of soft beancurd (170g)
  • ¾ cup or a small rice bowl of cooked pulses (e.g. lentils) (120g)

Related: Baby’s First Food Journey

What to Feed Your Baby

3 bowls of baby food puree, ideal for when starting solid food for babies.>

Texture: Start smooth and soft

6 to 9 months: When you first start weaning your baby onto solids, the food you feed him should be smooth, soft, and fine in texture. As the little one grows older and gets better at chewing, you can gradually feed him food that is thicker and coarser—for example, a thicker puree.

10 to 12 months: At this stage, the food you feed the little one needs to only be mashed, chopped or cut into small pieces.

Related: Your Growing Baby

Food prep pointers for mummy and daddy

Here are some handy materials and tools you can use to prepare his food:

  • Steamer to steam your veggies and meat to make them soft
  • Hand blender or food processor for purees and fine chopping—a pestle and mortar could work too
  • Sieve to strain the puree and remove the bigger bits of food
  • Fork to mash up food
  • Spoon to scrape food

If you’re making your own baby food, make sure to prepare it without oil. Some great cooking methods are steaming, boiling, baking, or microwaving. No stir-frying or grilling yet for the little one!

Remember to skip the sugar, salt and any other seasonings (e.g. soy sauce) when preparing the meals. Your baby’s delicate taste buds don’t need them!

Here’s another tip: freeze fruit or vegetable purees in ice cube trays, and keep them up to a month. They’re convenient for busy mums and dads, just pop one cube out and defrost and reheat it in the microwave! Do remember to label your baby food with the preparation date.

Related: Early Childhood Nutrition

How to puree

  • Hard fruit: Steam the fruit, mash it with some breast or formula milk.
  • Soft fruit: Puree with some water in a blender or processor (or a fork!).
  • Vegetable: Cook the vegetable (steam, blanch or bake), then puree it in a blender, processor, or fork. Add water or milk (breast/formula) till desired consistency. You may also add pureed potato if your pureed vegetable is too watery.
  • Meat: Cook deboned and skinless meat (steam, boil or bake), cut into small pieces, blend with broth or water till smooth.

baby food puree in a small cup with a baby spoon, and also in ice cube trays. You can freeze baby food puree in an ice tray when feeding your baby weaning foods.>

These are just rough guidelines for preparing purees. For the best results, you might want to do a quick search on the internet for the best cooking and blending method for the specific food you are preparing.

For example, sites might advise you to avoid boiling vegetables because the method causes a loss in vitamins and nutrients.

Related: 5 Recipes for Healthy Eating

Suitable Foods for the Little One

Something simple to start your little one on solids would be a teaspoon or two of iron-fortified brown rice cereal mixed with breast or formula milk.

Your baby needs iron at this stage, and most infant rice cereal is iron-fortified. Other iron-rich foods include dark green veggies like spinach and broccoli, and finely minced or flaked meat (chicken, pork, fish or beef).

Help your baby better absorb iron by giving him a variety of foods high in Vitamin C, such as vegetables and fruit. Suitable food choices include porridge blended with mashed or pureed vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot.

Here are some yummy foods you can puree or mash:

Food Groups

Suitable Food

Brown rice & wholemeal bread

Brown rice/White rice
Iron-fortified Rice Cereals
Sweet Potato
Potato

Fruit

Apple
Banana
Peach
Watermelon
Pear
Mango

Vegetables

Spinach
Peas
Eggplant
Cabbage
Broccoli
Pumpkin
Carrot
Tomato

Meat & Others

Ikan Bilis
Tofu
Fish
Soybean
Chicken
Lentils

Related: Benefits of Vegetables

Introducing New Food to Your Baby

feeding a baby solid food puree on a baby spoon, waiting to see any signs baby is ready for solid food.>

There is no “correct” order to introduce the little one to new food or food groups. Let your baby slowly explore new flavours: there’s no rush to give your baby everything at once!

Introduce a new food every 3 to 4 days before gradually giving your baby a variety of food from all the basic food groups.

When you’re trying to feed your baby dark green veggies like spinach or chye sim, they might refuse because of the slightly bitter taste. One way is to persist over several meals until your baby takes a mouthful or chop it up finely and mix it into his food. If this doesn’t work, you can always start him out with sweeter veggies like pureed corn or carrot.

Related: Smart Ways to Fill Up on Fruit and Vegetables

Look Out for Signs of Allergies

Observe your baby for signs of food allergy after you introduce him to a new food. These include:

  • Hives and worsening eczema
  • Swollen face, eyes, tongue, mouth and lips
  • Watery stools
  • Vomiting

Relatively rare but serious symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting

Bring your baby to a paediatrician immediately if your baby displays any of these reactions!

Related: When Allergies Occur

What Not to Feed Your Baby

Do not feed your baby:

  • Uncooked food
  • Unpasteurized dairy products
  • Fish with high levels of mercury, e.g. tuna, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, yellowback seabream
  • Food high in salt e.g. preserved food, processed food (such as sausages) or food seasoned with salt, soy sauce, or chicken powder
  • Sugary drinks (e.g. soft drinks) or fruit juice
  • Caffeinated drinks, e.g. coffee or tea
  • Honey
  • Cow’s milk (except for infant formula) if your baby is below 12 months old

Avoid food that can be a choking hazard:

  • Small and hard pieces of food (e.g. nuts, raisins)
  • Crunchy or hard food like raw veggies
  • Fish or meat with bones
  • Fruits with seeds
  • Sticky rice

Related: Important Nutrients: What Should You Eat More Of?

Tips for Happy Meals

Baby holding a baby spoon in her mouth and smiling. These are signs baby is ready for solid food.>

Set a routine

Routines are great not just for you, but for the baby too. It doesn’t matter at what age your baby starts to eat solid food. You should try to establish a fixed time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time, and get your baby used to the schedule as soon as you can. All meals should be taken preferably at the same place, such as the dining table. The routine helps your baby get used to eating solids.

Use a high chair

You are going to need both your hands to feed your baby, so keep your baby sitting upright, safe and secure in a high chair.

Never leave your baby alone during mealtimes

Keep a watchful eye to make sure that there are no risks of choking.

Related: Baby Up and About Safely

No distractions, please

Your baby has one job to do: eat. Let’s help your baby get the job done by switching off the television and keeping the toys away. There will be plenty of time to play after the meal.

Make mealtime relaxing

Feed your baby in a calm and quiet environment so he is relaxed and happy. Don’t rush or scold the little one! To make mealtimes more fun, you can also try mimicking the sounds of an airplane, with the baby spoon hovering in the air waiting to make its way into your baby’s mouth.

Related: Stimulate Your Baby’s First Year Brain Development

Be patient

Bring the baby spoon to your baby’s mouth and wait. If your baby opens his mouth, you may begin to place the food gently at the back of the tongue. Give your baby enough time and see if he is able to swallow.

If your baby isn’t interested, do not force it. Switch to milk (breast milk or formula) and try again during the next meal. It might take 10 or more tries before your baby opens up, so keep it up, mummy and daddy!

No need for a clean plate

There’s no need to force your child to finish everything on his plate! Stop feeding him if he rejects the food, and try again during the next meal. Right now, your baby knows best about how much he wants to eat.

For more information on early nutrition and weaning recipes for your little one, visit Early Childhood Nutrition.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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References

  1. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN. The Complete Guide to Starting Solids. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.parents.com/baby/feeding/solid-foods/starting-solids-guide/
  2. Bridget Swinney, R.D. First Year Feeding Guide. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.parents.com/baby/feeding/solid-foods/first-year-baby-feeding-guide/
  3. Karin A. Bilich. Introducing Solid Foods to Baby, Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.parents.com/baby/feeding/solid-foods/introducing-solid-foods-to-baby/
  4. Introducing Solids. (2017, September). Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.babycenter.com/0_introducing-solids_113.bc
  5. How to Make Your Own Baby Food. (2016, September). Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.babycenter.com/101_how-to-make-your-own-baby-food_10415266.bc
  6. Ella Walsh. (2017, July 4). How to Make Your Own Baby Food. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.kidspot.com.au/baby/feeding/weaning/how-to-make-your-own-baby-food/news-story/e3ca0f976fe0be95f2d8084475930b48
  7. Bernadette Machard de Gramont. 21 Homemade Baby Food Recipes. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/homemade-baby-food-recipes#1
  8. Making and Freezing Baby Food in Advance. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.huggies.com.au/parenting/time-management-tips/kitchen/freezing-baby-food
  9. Rebecca Malachi. (2017, December 20). 20 Amazingly Healthy and Tasty Fruit Purees for Babies. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.momjunction.com/articles/yummy-fruit-purees-baby_0085485/
  10. Heather Morgan Shott. How to Make Veggie Purees for Babies. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.parents.com/recipes/baby-food/how-to-vegetable-puree/
  11. Homemade Meat Baby Food Recipes and Meat Purees for Babies. Retrieved November 2018 from http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/meatrecipes.htm