Starting solids for your baby marks a new milestone. World Health Organization recommends that babies should be exclusively breastfed (or formula-fed, for that matter) for the first 6 months of life. Before introducing solids, ensure that your baby is able to sit well, has good head control while seated and showing interest in food, to name a few.
Typically, the older generation would advise cooking porridge to feed the little one, or even adding brown rice powder to their milk. Porridge is usually simmered in a slow cooker or cooked over the stove to make it really soft. The adult takes control by spoon-feeding baby, who swallows the mush easily without much need to chew. This is referred to as Traditional Weaning.
A new school of thought emerged in recent years, which encourages babies to feed on their own. Baby Led Weaning (BLW), as coined by Gill Rapley, lets baby be in control of what and how he eats. This method allows baby to explore and facilitates development of oral motor skills and babies instinctively figure the process of putting food into mouth, chew or gum them and swallow. One thing for sure – be prepared for the mess – it’s all about the experience for your little eater’s yummy journey. To better prepare before embarking on BLW, the Do’s and Don’t’s document found at Gill Rapley’s site is a helpful guide.
While more and more new parents are doing it BLW way, it does take quite a bit of effort to convince and assure the older folks who are usually the main
caregiver. Everyone has baby’s best interest at heart – the key to avoid disagreements over this would be to establish a common understanding and comfortable arrangement. Baby’s safety and the caregiver’s confidence level are priority.
Here are some quick, easy and yet nutritious meals that you can prepare for your growing child.
First dips of veggie and fruit – Steam, boil and mash or put them thru a food processor to get smooth purees. Annabel Karmel shares a variety of puree ideas for clueless new parents. Carrots, potato, apple and pears are easily found in the supermarkets or wet markets. Avocadoes are a nutrient-packed good first food for its neutral taste and creamy texture. Find out how to prepare Acocado Puree.
Infant cereals are easily available at supermarkets (retail and online) – take your pick from Cerelac, Healthy Times, Hipp – they are convenient and easy to prepare and come in different flavours categorized for different age/stage. Simply by adding breastmilk or formula and baby can have it neat. You may like to add fruits for additional dose of vitamins. It only takes a few minutes to prepare, it’s a popular choice with busy mothers.
A warm bowl of soup comforts the tummy and heart. Soups provide a yummy concoction of fluids with essential vitamins and minerals. Boil the ingredients long enough (approx. 30 – 45 minutes or so) to extract their natural sweetness and serve without seasonings like salt. Instead, try ingredients such as big onion, red dates, wolfberries to help bring taste. Boil over stove or slow cooker. Offer with rice, bee hoon or mee sua for a well-balanced meal. Spoon-feeding your baby during the early stages may help caregivers feel more assured. For BLW, your bubba may attempt to nibble off the meats and veggies on his own and attempt drinking the broth from a bowl/cup; let your little wanderer explore! Soup stock can be freezed in cubes or pouches so busy mums can prepare for the week ahead, and provided to the caregiver while mummy is at work.
Most Asian families grow up with rice, and our Thai white rice is a good start to making baby’s porridge. Other grains options include brown rice, millet,
quinoa, oatmeal, macaroni, buckwheat which make nutritious carbo choices too. Vegetables and meat or fish are usually added into for a flavourful and colourful meal. Cook over stove or slow cooker with ingredients added. Soup stock can also be prepared prior for cooking the porridge with extra dose of calcium and iron from ikan bilis, pork ribs or chicken. Super Baby Foods suggests recipe for baby’s oatmeal meal.
Food Pouches and Jar Food
These handy options are life savers to busy parents and are great when traveling with baby. Simply have them at room temperature or lightly warmed up. Ella’s Kitchen, Heinz, Gerber’s are available at most supermarkets. Always check ingredient list to see if baby has had past allergy reactions with
any of what’s in it. Ensure you pick an age-appropriate pack too.
BLW babies learn how to hold their food to eat independently, so finger foods make great choices. Homemade bites can be done without taking too much time. Whole Baby Recipe has a library of simple recipes for your little prince and princesses.
Sticks of boiled carrot, celery, baby corn, potato make healthier alternatives to commercial treats. Baby can hold and feed himself with BLW. Smaller foods like blueberries help reinforce the pincer grasp development too. Not a regular chef? My Baby Recipe collates recipe contributions from mummies to share and exchange tips. Easy steam cake recipes that are healthy and tasty takes only minutes! Healthy and readily-available snacks are popular options with mummies too: Happy Puffs, Gerber Graduates Puffs, Plum.
Want homemade goodness but too strapped for time? Petit Bowl offers fuss-free frozen meals as a solution, taking the stress out of parents and caregivers. Their pre-freezed meals offers convenient wholesome dishes.
Mums and dads, if you are getting excited about your bub’s solids journey, do take time to understand more before starting. Allergenic foods are recommended to be avoided at the early stages. Enjoy this new solids journey with junior!
By Cindy Gan