Thinking of introducing solid food to your baby? It’s interesting to note that the current recommendations of the World Health Organisation are that infants should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months (180 days). From then onwards, solids should be introduced in small amounts, and the quantity and frequency of meals should be increased gradually as the baby gets older.
Easy, right? Hardly! Many parents find that their babies want to experiment with food a little earlier – at around five months, sometimes even four months – so it’s common for weaning to begin before the six month mark.
The traditional method of weaning is to start by feeding babies puréed vegetables and fruit such as sweet potato, potato, carrot, pumpkin, apple and pear. Eggs, meat, fish and food with more texture are introduced here and there; babies tend to start wanting finger food at around nine months.
Another increasingly popular method of weaning is baby-led weaning (BLW), which involves babies feeding themselves from six months when they can sit upright. This requires no purées or spoon-feeding, and babies sit with the rest of the family at mealtimes. Food is offered in sizes and shapes that babies can handle with their fingers and feed themselves. Some like to use this method simply because it’s easier and less time-consuming for the whole family to sit and eat similar food.
Weaning is an important time in babies’ lives, and it’s best to introduce them to the widest variety of food possible in their first year. Whichever route you choose, the goal is to have a contented baby who is not a fussy eater.
5 signs that babies could be ready to start on solids
#1 They no longer seem satisfied by a full milk feed
#2 They demand frequent milk feeds
#3 They wake in the night for a feed despite having previously slept through the night
#4 They’re interested in watching others eat
#5 They’re able to support their head and neck well when seated
Ask the panel: When did you decide to wean your child? Did you follow baby led weaning? Any tips?
Katy: I weaned at six months through baby-led weaning. These books were great: Baby-led Weaning and The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley, and River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy. I also did a course on Introduction to Solids with Miranda from BumpWise, who unfortunately no longer lives in Singapore. I recommend doing an infant and child first-aid course so you know what to do if your child chokes, and also to know the difference between choking and gagging. I did a course with Red Cross and my helper did a course with Mother & Child.
Laura: Weaning our daughter has been difficult, not only because of her allergies, but also because of her sensitive gag reflex and weakened muscles at the entrance of her stomach. We have to think very carefully about textures and know when to stop feeding her before she’s too full. We have to feed her every two hours throughout the day for this reason as she has been underweight her whole life. I’m happy to say that she is gaining weight and we are seeing the first signs of the adorable baby rolls on her legs now!
Lorraine: At six months, we introduced solids to both of our kids. We did a combination of baby-led weaning and feeding. (Sometimes I’m in too much of a hurry to get food in them and can’t deal with the mess!)
Abigail: I weaned at six months as per Australian guidelines. I set out to do baby-led weaning, but I mixed it with pureed food as well. My daughter was also in day-care then, so we worked with the centre to ensure she was trying new foods; it worked well for us.
Tanya: I started them on solids at about six months; mainly pureed fruit and vegetables.
Kathryn: I weaned both just before six months, mainly with purees.
Mariel: I did it at six months as she was happy with breastmilk and formula. She also couldn’t sit well unassisted.
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