Babies around 4 to 6 months can start on solids.
There are a few schools of thoughts regarding the ‘perfect’ age to start baby on solids.
I’ll be honest, it is really up to individual parents to read up and decide on what they think is best for their baby.
I subscribe to starting before 6 months, AS LONG AS BABY IS READY. My purpose in starting once baby is ready is to expose baby to larger variety of of foods before meal replacement starts.
How do I know if baby is ready?
– Able to hold head steady (no bobbing of head)
– Able to sit with minimum support (may lean slightly, but not flopping all over)
– Shows interest in your food (stares intently or shows excitement when seeing others eat)
– Plays with tongue
– Show chewing/gnawing motion
– May have a sudden disinterest in milk
Again, there are a few schools of thought on what should be baby’s first food.
Traditional weaning means giving cereals or rice gruel.
There’s modern puree weaning, avoiding cereals which are empty calories and preferring to dive straight to nutrient rich pureed fruits & vegetables.
Baby Led Weaning (as the name tells: baby leads the weaning process by taking what they are ready) focuses on offering variety in small pieces, allowing baby to self feed. There are perks to this: Fine motor skills are better developed when they have to pick up their food using their bare hands. They also gain from textural stimulation.
I prefer a mixture of all.
Cereals give the convenience when you are busy.
Purees give the nutrients and ensure they get to really eat, plus they get to taste individual food flavours.
Baby Led Weaning trains up their find motor skills.
It is highly recommended to feed them in the mornings. Although serious allergies are not common, they can still happen and become life threatening. Or maybe not that serious, but you would still want a PD to take a look.
This means feeding in the morning, and allowing some time for digestion and reaction. Most reactions are immediate or within a few hours when the PD clinic is still open.
Feeding in the the morning for a start also allows baby to be in a better mood. You have to ensure baby is in a good mood to avoid baby disliking solids just because they got off on a wrong start.
A comfortable yet sturdy high chair is highly recommended.
A popular choice is Ikea’s plastic high chair as it is cheap and easy to clean. I agree on cheap & easy to clean, but Ahjussi and I can’t get past ‘safety’. It is too flimsy and based on our experience with our monkey boys, they will most likely topple over.
We ended up getting an Ikea wooden high chair and we have been using it for all 3 kids since 2007. Good investment if you are intending to have more. The size is also big so Monster sat in there till recently (4 years old) that he had to give it up for Meimei.
Popular High Chair from Ikea – $29.90
Common Ikea High Chair – At Old Town White Coffee KL (Bukit Bintang) in 2012
What is the purpose of introducing solids? Can I replace meals?
For a start, the purpose is to teach them to SWALLOW. It is NORMAL if they spit or push their tongue out because they are still learning to control their tongue and mouth.
Don’t give up. Just keep trying! Praises and encouragement works too. It is even better if they are fed at the dining table while the family is eating. They do learn by imitation and will watch your actions.
Meal replacement should only start around 7-8 months old. Start replacing 1 milk feed and gradually increase food portions or number of meals. They should be on 3 solid meals a day by 1 year old.
(1) Buy your materials
(2) Buy your ingredients
I used Uinlui‘s Twin Bowl. Uinlui is Made in Korea and made from SUGARCANE! Yes! Natural ingredients beat artificial plastics! Best of all, it can tahan steam/hot water sterilising and UV sterilising! Other natural utensils (made from corn) in the market now cannot be subjected to high heat or long moisture exposure.
For spoons, please use SOFT spoons as they may hurt their gums on hard spoons. I’m using Bebelock Silicone Spoon with case (great for keeping the spoon clean when heading out).
For bibs, I’m using Bebelock Soft Bib at home and thelittleonesimylife Disposable Bib when out.
For blending purees, we decided not to get any fancy machine because it is expensive and you will only be giving purees for a while (probably 1-2 months only). Worst of all, my niece who owns a steamer-blender combo machine complained that it was hard to wash and there was yellowish stuff stuck under the blades which she can’t get out.
All we have is a simple electric steamer which we redeemed many years back using our credit card points, and a simple handheld blender from Giant Hypermart. I’ve also use the blender for other purposes in our general daily cooking and I love it. Easy to wash too!
For storage of purees, I use Bebelock Ice Tok Tok from Korea and Bebelock Airtight Container (comes in 4 sizes!). They are awesome to have and check out pictures later on in this post.
Buying ORGANIC is purely a personal choice. You can choose not to purchase organic produce.
I chose organic (till at least 1 year old) as baby’s organs are still immature and it takes longer for them to process any chemicals ingested (pesticides, artificial fertilisers, etc).
I live in Punggol and with Compasspoint now CLOSED for a year, it is pretty hard for us to get organic produce. I used to get nice organic produce from Cold Storage (Compasspoint).
Now, I’ve resorted to ordering from REDMART.
It was my first order, so $30 and there’ll be free delivery! Click HERE and register, you will get $10 credit if you are a new customer! Subsequent orders, spend $49 and get free delivery.
My Order from Redmart.com
The items all came VERY FRESH. The pumpkin was already cut, thus I had to quickly cook that. The other items could be kept for another 5-7 days without any issues.
If you wish to not buy organic or only go partially organic, check this out article on which ones you should buy organic: The Dirty Dozen – Foods You Should Always Buy Organic
Summary: Apples, Strawberries, Grapes, Celery, Peaches, Spinach, Bell Peppers, Nectarines, Cucumber, Melons, Peas, Blueberries, Tomatoes and Potatoes.
For experience cooks, prepping baby food will be a breeze. However, for those not familiar in the kitchen, it can be a real challenge.
I started off with avocado as I was too lazy to take the blender out. Just something that I can mash easily and mix with expressed breast milk to create a smooth puree for Meimei will be good.
Mashing Up Avocado
So all I did was to cut a small portion which I wanted to feed her. Cling wrap the balance (ensure that the clingwrap is touching the avocado flesh to avoid oxidation).
Avocado doesn’t do very well when kept in the fridge once the flesh is exposed. It oxidises and turns brown fairly quickly.
How to Store Avocado
So I cut up the balance into small pieces so that they can fit into the Bebelock Ice Tok Tok. The beauty of this Ice Tok Tok is that it comes with a lid to keep your baby’s puree AWAY from other raw food items in your freezer. Also, it is specially designed to be able to POP OUT ONE AT A TIME! Yes! No more messy many-cubes-come-out-together situations! The bottom is soft, so just push up that particular cube that you want!
And don’t worry about wastage of these trays after baby is done with purees. Use it to freeze lemon juice for your drinks or store home made seasonings!
Using Frozen Avocado
We were heading out to church, so I popped out 2 cubes of frozen avocado and placed them in the Bebelock Airtight Container (120ml). Squirt in some breast milk (I have the habit of lifting my shirt up right in the kitchen and hand express directly into the bowl or container). Close it tight (won’t leak!).
By the time we had to feed her (around an hour later), the avocado was defrosted to room temp and I just had to mash it up a little more before feeding her.
So avocado is really easy to conquer even if you do not know how to operate the stove!
Meimei totally enjoyed it!
Meimei enjoying her first meal
Ok… But baby can’t be eating avocado only… So here’s pumpkin.
Again, I was too lazy to dig the steamer out from the cupboard so I just boiled it. It is better to steam it (retains more nutrients) but cooking time is longer when steaming.
Remove the skin of the pumpkin.
Cut into smaller pieces so it will cook faster.
Boil till soft (took me around 8 min).
Scoop out the pumpkin into a clean bowl.
Mash with fork (lazy to take out blender again).
Add a little of the cooking liquid if you find it hard to mash, but pumpkin is generally quite wet so very minimal additional cooking liquid is required.
Due to the LARGE pumpkin, I was pretty sure I won’t have enough Ice Tok Toks so I decided to put some of them into Bebelock airtight containers (120ml) since we are also using it as a bowl to heat up her food.
Quick Tip on Filling Up those Ice Tok Tok
It is pretty tiring to scoop the puree into ice trays, so I went to my lazy method again. Get a large plastic bag, fill it up, tie it off, cut a small corner and pipe away!
Easy and mess free!
What else can I give?
List of recommended food items to start on
*** Warning: Sweet potato & banana can cause constipation, do give more liquids when feeding these foods.
It is pretty hard to plan and keep track, especially if you have other kids to manage (like me).
This is an Excel file I use to keep track. You can simply download it from here, upload a copy into your Google Sheets and update daily! You can even share the file on your Google Sheets with your hubby so he is kept updated too!
How much do I give?
I start off with around 1-2 tsp a day, then gradually increase her portion every week. This is to avoid stuffing her tummy too full and getting indigestion. Remember, they are learning to taste, swallow and digest all these new stuff. So don’t overload their system. Give them some time.
Can we freeze baby’s puree?
I personally did it 8 years ago when I was teaching in school and I couldn’t trust the maid to cook daily. I preferred to be in control and made the purees on weekends, and simply took out whatever is needed for the day for the maid to heat up and feed.
And for my Monster, he was super active and we really couldn’t cope with having to cook fresh daily with him climbing all over the house. Freezing his food saved a lot of time and it was better than having to give commercial puree in pouches or bottles.
It is SAFE and common to freeze baby food, as long as you prepped the food hygienically, kept it in covered containers/trays and reheat it properly.
I do not recommend reheating in microwave. You just need to defrost it by placing in the fridge a few hours before you need it, then steam or use a bottle warmer to heat up.
This is why the Bebelock airtight containers come in very useful. You can place it into an electric bottle warmer or a cup of hot water to heat up the food like you would to expressed breast milk.
Korean mummies prefer to simmer the food and they use Bebelock airtight containers + Bebelock Silicon Suction Pads.
Read more about freezing baby food here: http://www.annabelkarmel.com/food-parenting/weaning/freezing-baby-food
I hope this has been a useful start for you!
If you wish to know more, you can check out my weaning blog: www.weaningyourlittleones.blogspot.com
My favourite book on weaning: Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
They now have apps and loads of information online if you do not like books. I still prefer hardcopy books. 🙂
Mother of 3 & Owner of TLO.com.sg
Note: Mummy Audrey has a Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a trained Home Economics Teacher, previously teaching in MOE schools.