Weaning Your Baby

Weaningby: Li Jin

In the first few months of her life, all your baby needs is milk. By the time she reaches six months old, she will be ready for a new chapter of her life – eating.

The World Health Organization recommends weaning at six months because the digestive system of a baby is not mature enough before that to digest solid food.

After the sixth month, your baby would be going through a growth spurt as she starts to learn how to roll over, crawl, walk and talk. The additional activity means that she will need more nutrients to help her grow optimally. On top of milk, she will need solid foods.

If you’ve been wondering what and how to feed your baby, wonder no more. Parenting2u speaks to Heidi Shamsuddin, mother of three and owner of Gourmet Goo, a brand of homemade baby food, to find out more:

What do I need to wean my baby?

Heidi: Babies have simple needs. All you need is a cooking pot or a steamer, a blender and some small containers to freeze the baby food. Steaming is the best way to prepare baby food as it preserves more nutrients in the food. Boiling is the next best option to soften the food.

What should I feed baby?

Heidi: Most parents start with baby cereal rice that is easily available commercially. You can also make your own by boiling rice porridge and blending it to a smooth consistency. After your baby has tried the rice and is used to having food, you can try making your own baby foods with fruits and vegetables.

What are the fruits and vegetables that are suitable for baby?

Heidi: Your baby might be allergic to some foods, so it helps to start with one type of fruit or vegetable before trying the next one. If your baby is clear of any allergy, then you can start having fun mixing the flavors around.

If your baby develops an allergic reaction (watch out for symptoms such as bloating, colic, rashes on the face or body, red and puffy eyes), see a doctor immediately and avoid feeding your baby that particular food until she is older.

Fruits and vegetables that are usually safe for babies include carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, potato, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, capsicum, green beans (without the stringy bits), peas, tomato (remove skin), celery, apple, leek and pear. Fruit such as mango, banana, papaya and melon don’t require cooking- just mash and mix them with your breast milk.

What should baby food look like?

Heidi: At six months, the food should be smooth and runny, like a puree. Also, mix some breast milk into the food so that it smells familiar to baby.

After eight months, the texture of the food can be lumpier as he starts developing baby teeth. The rougher texture will help your baby learn how to chew and exercise his jaw muscles, which are important for speech development.

At 10-12 months, fruits and vegetables can be chopped into small bite-sized pieces for baby to hold and chew on.

What should I NOT feed baby with?

Heidi: Don’t add any salt, sugar, MSG or flavoring into your baby’s food- don’t worry about it being bland as your baby will enjoy the natural taste of the fruits and vegetables. Also avoid honey (some babies may get a severe allergic reaction) and processed foods such as nuggets, hot dogs or snacks. Nuts should also be avoid the risk of choking.

How much is my baby supposed to eat?

Heidi: Don’t be surprised if your baby only takes one or two mouthfuls of food and decides it’s enough for a meal! Babies typically need very little food in the first year, so many moms or caregivers often get frustrated to see the food they have so painstakingly prepared go to waste.

The best way to go about this is to make a larger portion of baby food each time with your blender, then freeze them in small containers or as ice-cubes. Take out one small container or cube each time and thaw it by placing it in bowl of hot water for use.

What else should I know about weaning my baby?

Heidi: Never leave your baby to eat unattended to avoid choking risk. Small amounts of protein such as chicken, fish, meat and beans can be slowly introduced when your baby is 8-months-old.

Want to have homemade baby food but don’t have the time to prepare them? Grab some babylicious food from Gourmet Goo! More details at www.gourmetgoo.com.

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