Your weaning questions… SORTED
Should I continue giving milk feeds once my baby starts solids?
The recommended weaning period for a baby is at six months old. Breastmilk, infant formula or follow-up milk should still remain as baby’s main source of food to meet his nutritional needs during the early stages of weaning. As mixed feeding continues, your baby will naturally cut down on the number of milk feeds, but milk will remain an important part of a child’s diet. Due to low level of iron and vitamins C and D, cow’s milk should not be their main drink until after 12 months.
When can I skip sterilising my baby’s bottles and utensils?
The purpose of sterilising is to kill germs on the surface.
As a baby’s immune system is not as strong as an adult’s, it is recommended to sterilise all of baby’s feeding equipment. This is especially important for the milk storage bottles used to keep your expressed breastmilk. How you store them matters too; if done improperly, you will just be wasting your effort in sterilising. It is recommended to sterilise your baby’s bottles and utensils up to one year old as after that, his immune system is stronger to fight off any germs or infections. Once baby turns one, encourage him to use a cup instead of bottle for his milk feeds. This also helps in training his hand grip muscle, tongue, jaw and brain development. Once they wean themselves off bottle feeding, you can stop worrying about sterilising.
What if my baby refuses solids?
When it comes to dealing with new food, baby behaves the same as adult. What is your reaction when you are asked to try a new food that you have never seen, tasted or smelled before? This characteristic is know as ‘neophobia’. For baby to accept new things/new foods, we need at least 15 attempts. Some babies can accept the texture very well, but not the taste; some can accept the taste but not in a different texture. Sensory ability for all babies is different. If you feel that a particular food is important or nutritious for your baby, keep trying and offering it to him.
However, if your baby coughs, vomits or does not progress to a certain texture supposingly suitable for his age, please consult your paediatrician, ENT specialist or speech language pathology for further assessment and investigation. It may be related to metabolism, sensorial or even neurological issues. If your child is under the third percentile in the length and weight growth chart or not gaining weight for a period of time, consult a dietician.
What are the most nutritional foods for a baby, and how much should I give?
The texture and type of food introduced are important due to baby’s immature digestive system. You may begin with semi-solid food like mashed or puréed food, and move on to soft solid food (porridge in softer form) before integrating family food at 12 months. For example, you may offer grains, cereals and rice-based food, followed by vegetables and fruits (except berries), meat and marine products and even the whole egg as long as there is no family history of the food allergy mentioned. It is best to avoid adding any flavouring such as salt, soy sauce and sugar in baby’s food. This helps your baby or toddler acquire the genuine food taste, making it easier for them to accept new foods in the future.
How much to feed depends on your baby’s body weight. At the beginning, start with a few spoons once to twice daily and increase the portion gradually from half a cup, one cup and eventually, a bowl size as they grow older.
How can I stop my baby from playing with his food?
What may seem like playing to you may not be exactly play to your baby. In fact, your baby is exploring new sensations and learning to improve his motor skills. Sometimes it is good to encourage and find ways to reduce the impact of ‘play’ by just preparing yourself for what’s ahead.
As your baby learns to feed himself, you will find that he may make quite a mess during feeding. One technique that I often tell parents is to start your baby with a Bumbo seat before moving on to a baby/high chair. This gives baby the idea that when he’s on a chair, it’s mealtime. It would also allow you to contain the mess as he learns to eat. As baby begins to use his hands to feed himself or reach for the spoon, it will be a good idea to layer the floor area right below the chair with newspaper before each meal. So when food starts to fall or should we say, fly around, the mess can be cleaned up by just tossing away the newspaper. At this stage of weaning, baby may even find it amusing to put food everywhere – nose, face, hands etc., and so patience on your side is really crucial. Rest assured, playing with food is a passing phase in his growing years.
What if my baby won’t eat lumps in his food?
Typically there are a few reasons why baby won’t eat lumps in his food.
Teething makes baby extremely uncomfortable due to tender and painful gums. When this happens, baby will often move a step back from their current weaning stage. For instance, if baby is in the lumps stage, he will want purée during the teething period.
Every baby is different. Some will be very eager to start using his jaw and add new challenges to his experiences. Others will be happy at their current stage of weaning and will take their own time. There are however, ways to encourage baby to progress to lumpier food. Gradually thicken up purées over a few weeks until they become lumpier.
What should I feed my baby when we’re out?
Main meals: Freeze purées and main meals, and bring along when you’re out for family activities. Heat up using microwave, baby food warmer or dip in hot water. Always choose natural food over processed varieties.
Snacks: Depending on the age group, typically offer natural snacks like raisins, cranberries and dried apricots. Bananas and little mandarin oranges (satsumas) are good choices too.