• Baby’s first food in Singapore: Mom feeding baby

Baby's first foods are also called ‘complementary’ foods because they are meant to complement milk feeds and not replace them. Prior to planning your baby’s first food in Singapore, you should ensure that he/she is ready by considering the following:

  1. Make sure the baby can hold his/her own head up

  2. Make sure the baby can sit upright with support

  3. Able to open his/her mouth when food approaches

  4. Has lost the tongue-thrust reflex that pushes the spoon back out of the mouth

  5. Can somewhat draw in food from a spoon into the mouth

Mothers typically can introduce solid foods to their child’s diet at around six months. This transition into solids is a big one as it involves not only progress in the baby’s nourishment but also their overall development. Let’s take a closer look at what else goes into consideration for your baby’s first food in Singapore.

How to Prepare Your Baby’s First Food in Singapore?

The baby’s first food in Singapore is essential for proper growth and development, especially in the first three years. Parents may at first introduce single-ingredient foods with no added sugar or salt and foods rich in iron and zinc, particularly, which are found in pureed meats and single-grain cereals. Traditionally, single-grain cereals are usually introduced as the first solids, however there is no medical evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order has an advantage for your baby. When feeding the baby's first food in Singapore, pureed fruits, vegetables and meats are nutritious options to consider. It is also important to increase the texture and consistency according to how the baby progresses. When the baby gets older (around 8 to 10 months), try feeding your baby with finely chopped foods like:

  • pasta

  • soft fruits

  • veggies

  • cheese

  • well-cooked meat

  • dry cereal

  • baby crackers

Baby's First Food in Singapore: Meal Options

Rice Cereal

Rice cereal is one of the top options for the baby’s first food in Singapore as it is easily digestible and well-tolerated by first-time solid food eaters.

It is also good to add other single-grain variants to the baby’s solid diet, like quinoa, barley and oats5 as well as the brown rice variant. Choosing iron-fortified cereals is important too, as babies need iron to deliver oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. Children lacking iron are prone to slow weight gain, pale skin, irritability and lack of appetite7.

Pureed Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetable and fruit puree are staples in baby's first food in Singapore and they are versatile and easily made. Parents can make purees out of sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes and pumpkin8. Practically any food can be pureed: green beans, spinach, and fruits such as bananas, pears, plums, blueberries, avocados and peaches. These veggies can be steamed, boiled or baked before being mashed or whipped to the appropriate consistency.

Fruits and vegetables are generally a great source of many vitamins, minerals and fibre8. Fruits are beneficial to babies as they are packed with antioxidants and fiber that strengthens the immune system and fosters healthy digestion9.

Baby’s First Food in Singapore: Do's and Don'ts

Do’s:

In planning your baby’s first food in Singapore, one of the more important baby-feeding do’s includes following the three-day rule which involves feeding your baby only one type of food over that period to ensure they are not allergic, and to give their digestive system time to adapt12.

Be sure to also speak to your pediatrician about the risk of food allergies, although it has been shown that introducing allergenic food to the child―peanuts, eggs and fish, among others―may reduce the risk of developing that allergy4. However, for babies who stem from a family tree with a history of food allergies or eczema, it is suggested that introduction to certain solid foods be delayed to avoid triggering a serious allergic reaction13. It would be best to consult a specialist while planning your baby’s first food in Singapore should there be any concerns or questions about introducing allergenic foods to babies in this situation.

Don’ts – Food to avoid in babies:

  • Sugar and sugary foods
    They are to be avoided before the age of one as they not only encourage the development of a sweet tooth but can also promote tooth decay. Fruit juices are as such not encouraged, in addition to the fact that they can fill up an infant’s tummy, preventing him/her from being able to take other more nutrient dense food and drinks such as milk. Consider including whole fruit in planning your baby’s first food in Singapore as it contains fibre and can help promote healthy digestion11.

  • Honey
    It should also be avoided till the age of 1 year because it may contain spores that cause infant botulism, a gastrointestinal disease due to Clostridium botulinum bacteria10.

  • Salt
    It is also important to note that salt should be avoided before the age of one year as the child’s kidneys are not very mature, in addition to preventing them from developing a liking for salty foods as they grow.

Keeping all of these things in mind, you are well on your way to putting into practice your baby’s first food in Singapore. Good luck, mommy!

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Expert Resource:
Dr. Raymond Choy Wai Mun
(MCR 18097A)
MBChB (UK), Aviation Medicine (Singapore)


REFERENCES:

1. Breastfeeding.
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

2. Starting Solid Foods.
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx Accessed 8 Aug 2020

3. Foods and Drinks for 6 to 24 Month Olds.
https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/index.html. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

4. Solid foods: How to get your baby started
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20046200.Accessed 8 Aug 2020

5. Baby Food for Thought: How Safe is Rice Cereal?
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/publications/health-matters/baby-food-for-thought-how-safe-is-rice-cereal. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

6. 3 reasons your child shouldn’t go “gluten-free” (unless your doctor says so).
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/3-reasons-not-put-child-gluten-free-diet-unless-doctor-says-201606079760. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

7. Iron needs of babies and children.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528681/. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

8. 5 Best Vegetable Puree for Babies: Recipes and Tips.
https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/best-5-homemade-vegetable-puree-for-baby/. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

9. Food for Children: Why Fruits and Vegetables are Important.
https://www.healthxchange.sg/children/food-nutrition/food-children-fruits-vegetables-important. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

10. Infant botulism: Can it be prevented?
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/infant-botulism/faq-20058477. Accessed 8 Aug 2020

11. Should I Give My Child Juice? Here’s What Experts Say
https://time.com/5669503/is-juice-bad-for-you/. Accessed 22 Sept 2020

12. Do’s and Dont’s for Solid Foods.
https://drsmiths.com/dont-donts-solid-foods/. Accessed 13 Oct 2020

13. Introducing highly allergenic foods to infants and children.
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/introducing-highly-allergenic-foods-to-infants-and-children. Accessed 13 Oct 2020.