After attending the Starting Solids for Babies talk organized by Columbia Asia Hospital Petaling Jaya on 9 October, we’d like to share with you important and interesting tips presented by the speakers.
There were three topics by three speakers:
- How to Win at Weaning by Dr. Sharifah Aida Alhabshi, Consultant Pediatrician
- Feeding Fussy Eaters by Dr. Shalini Shanmugam, Consultant Pediatrician
- Fun & Yummy Healthy Meals by Ms. Ng Yee Voon, Registered Dietitian
Here are the notes. We do hope they will be helpful for you!
I. How to Win at Weaning
What is weaning?
Weaning is transitioning from exclusive breastfeeding / milk feeds to complementary solid food and finally into family food. This happens after six months old right up to 24 months.
The rules of weaning
- Appropriate timing – look out for signs of readiness
- Baby can sit up
- Baby shows interest in food
- Baby opens his mouth when food is offered
- Baby can turn head away from spoon when he’s full
- Baby can pick up pieces of food for self-feeding
- Provide adequate amount of energy for optimal growth
- Give energy-rich food from grains (rice) and tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes)
- Can add butter / margarine for adequate fat content
- Provide adequate nutrition
- Give a variety of nutrient-rich food from meat, fruits and vegetables
- Introduce one type of food at a time for 3-4 days and watch out for any symptoms, especially if there’s history of food allergies in your family
- Provide enough fluid and fiber intake
- Increase frequency of solid food by age
- At 6-8 months: 2-3 main meals + 1-2 snacks (if needed) – start with 1/2 teaspoon, can dilute with breastmilk / milk for familiar taste
- At 9-11 months: 3-4 main meals + 1-2 snacks (if needed)
- Above 12 months: 3-4 main meals + 2 snacks
- Do not replace / reduce breastfeeding / milk feeds with main meals
- Increase food consistency by age
- > 6 months – pureed, smooth
- 7-8 months – mashed
- > 8 months – chopped
- By 12 months – family food
II. Feeding Fussy Eaters
Who are fussy eaters?
They are usually older babies or toddlers from one to two years old:
- Eats very slowly
- Eats a limited variety of food
- Only eats small meals
- Don’t like fruits and vegetables
- Isn’t interested in food
- Only eats what he / she likes
- Won’t try new foods
How to make meal times work for fussy eaters?
- Minimize distractions by turning off TV and other devices (zero screen time) during meal times
- Eat at the dining table
- Eat together as a family and everyone eats the same meal
- Let your child make a mess! Be patient, set rules but be flexible (authoritative parenting)
- Stick to a routine, don’t skip or keep on changing it
- Color – make colorful meals with shapes and decorations (e.g. food art)
- Texture – increase food texture gradually to avoid boredom
- Taste – use natural sweetness from fruits and flavorings from cheese, onion, garlic
- Let your child eat food that he least likes first, followed by food that he likes
- Don’t resort to food rewards, i.e. if you eat your rice, I’ll let you eat some cake
- Make healthy choices for snacks, e.g. give fruits instead of chocolate
- Go grocery/food shopping with your child and let him choose what he wants to eat
- Let your child take part in food preparation
- Make sure that your child is sufficiently hungry and NO snacks before a main meal
- As a parent, don’t show negative emotions such as anger and disappointment, be patient, be mindful of the food portion that you’re asking your child to eat, and finally, try and try again!
It is known that it can take up to 15 or more exposures for the baby to accept a new taste.
How to tackle sweet cravings?
- Serve a small treat with your child’s meal (e.g. one cookie / small muffin)
- Rationale: He may eat it first or only that. Over time, he learns that he will get hungry for other food if he only eats sweet things first
- Serve a small treat at the end of the meal regardless of how much your child has eaten
- Rationale: He will learn that sweet stuff, when eaten in moderate servings, have their place. This also takes away the power of dessert being a big, special reward. In fact, when you avoid negotiating (“if you eat this, you get that”), you eliminate a big power struggle
- Best is, eliminate sweets altogether. Instead, try offering fresh fruits or cheese to end the meal
How to feed a fussy eater during illness?
- They need extra fluid and soft food in small but frequent portions
- Add hydration with oral rehydration salts (ORS), water, juices, and coconut water
- Continue breastfeeding if you are breastfeeding
- Offer cold foods (yogurt, ice cream, fruits) if your child has ulcers in their mouth
About baby-led weaning
This method of weaning allows babies to control their consumption / portions of solids by “self-feeding”. The theory behind this method is that baby will choose foods which he/she is lacking in nutrients, guided by taste.
- Improves hand-eye coordination, chewing
- Less stressful for parents
- Takes time
- Baby must be able to sit up
- At the start, baby is allowed to reject food but it may be offered again at a later date
- Not encouraged if baby is less well developed
III. Fun & Yummy Healthy Meals
Recommendation: Introduce nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at six months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond.
Registered Dietitian, Ms. Ng Yee Voon, prepared some baby food recipes for tasting.
Check out our website for organic baby food and snacks, lunch boxes, thermal food jars, feeding spoons, plates, water bottles, etc. Click on the links below to view the brands and items we have in store.