When should you start and how do you know if your baby is ready?
WORDS JOANNA ONG
When do I Have to Introduce Solids to Baby?
According to Dr Christelle Tan, specialist in Paediatric Medicine, Raffles Specialist @ Raffles Holland Village, weaning is generally recommended at six months of age. Some evidence shows that weaning earlier around four to six months of age can result in decreased allergies. As such, there is a move to start weaning babies as they approach six months in developed countries. Dr Rajeev Ramachandran, consultant, Division of General Ambulatory Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, National University Hospital adds that there is now more recent evidence that shows with early weaning, a baby is more likely to tolerate solid food. He advises not to delay weaning beyond six months.
Are there any Signs to Look Out for?
“This comes in the form of being able to sit with some support, having fairly good head and neck control, opening their mouth when a spoon is present, putting things into their mouth and watching others eat with interest,” says Dr Tan. Other signs that the baby is ready for the introduction of solid foods include being hungry after his usual milk feed, demanding more frequent feeds, and a previously settled baby waking up in the night again for a feed, Dr Ramachandran adds.
How Frequent and How Much of these Solids should I Give My Baby?
Dr Low Kah Tzay, paediatrician, Mount Elizabeth Hospital recommends that you start with a small amount such as 60ml of cereals twice a day. Solids can be increased gradually according to baby’s interest and ability. For purees, start with one or two teaspoons for the first week and avoid foods that are notorious for choking hazards in children, Dr Ramachandran emphasises.
What if I Don’t Have Time to Prepare These Foods? Can I Rely on Pre-packaged Baby Food Sold in Stores?
Both Dr Ramachandran and Meave Graham, paediatric registered dietitian, Child Nutrition Singapore, agree that pre-packaged baby food is a convenient option, especially when travelling or there's a lack of time but homemade foods offer better nutritional and economical value as well as a variety of flavours and textures.
Dr Low suggests that it is best to prepare some home food for variety and this can be done
during weekends when there is more time. Alternatively, food can be prepared
in bulkand stored in the freezers in ready-to-eat portions.
To save time, Dr Tan points out that these many portions of the homemade purees can be stored in ice cube trays for up to two weeks. It is recommended that the food is defrosted once only prior to consumption. Repeated defrosting and refrosting of food is not advisable. The defrosting can be done via microwave defrosting or by using a water bath.