Most parents are overwhelmed by pregnancy, labour followed by breastfeeding. Time flies past for the first few months of post-delivery and your baby is now 4 to 6 months old!
If your baby is able to:
- Lift his head unsupported
- Put toys into his mouth
- Follow what you are eating with interest and tries to grab them
Then you are ready to start him off with some healthy food! 6 months old is when all the babies can start eating some food but I do have many friends, including my own daughter, who was ready at 4 months old and started grabbing our food!
The question is, what to start off with?
For the first food or snack, as the baby does not know how to chew or bite yet and will swallow everything, a soft, runny texture is compulsory. Mashed fruits or boiled, mash vegetables and grains are the top choices. They can usually take a few teaspoons as they learn how to swallow food.
These are some ideas to start you off:
- Avocado, bananas, mashed apples
- Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, broccoli, pumpkins
- Porridge / baby cereal
Tips when feeding your baby:
- Get them seated in a high chair or baby chair.
- Allow them to play with the food, it will make them more interested to eat.
- Afternoon is always the best choice because they are hungrier and can take more.
- Let them have a bottle of milk right after if they request for it.
- Do not force them to eat more.
- Observe them for a few days to check for allergies, then move on to new food.
- Gradually, increase the amount of food so it can replace a feeding of breast milk.
After they are used to eating food, you can move on to other fruits and vegetables, bread, meat, eggs, cheese and even yoghurt. Get them interested in different textures and taste so that they look forward to meal times. One final tip:
Introduce nuts into their diet!
You can include some soft, mashed peanuts in porridge or let them taste some peanut butter. This is because studies have shown that the earlier nuts are fed to babies, the lower the risk of nuts allergy!
For older babies from 6 to 12 months, these are some food ideas:
1) Blended fruits and vegetables
- For eg: Mango and banana or yoghurt and berry puree
2) Boiled soups with bits of meat and smashed peanuts
- For eg: Lotus root or watercress soup
3) Porridge with peanuts, meats or vegetables
- For eg: Blend scallops and ikan bilis with scallops
Only after 1 year old, you can explore whole new cooking methods besides boiling, blending and mashing. Breast milk can still be taken alongside solid food but if you intend to wean off breastfeeding, do consider cow milk instead of formula milk.
Remember, no salt or sugar should be added in baby's diet before 1 year old and try your best to breastfeed for at least 6 months!