As babies get older, the time to acquaint them with “complementary foods” draws closer. Complementary foods, which should accompany milk feed and not take their place, are usually introduced to the baby at around six months. These are essential to the child’s growth and development - but fret not, we’re here to show you how!
Preparing Baby’s First Food
Your baby’s first food should not consist of much sugar or salt and must be abundant in iron and zinc. These minerals are found in pureed meat as well as single-grain cereals. Other complementary foods include pureed vegetables, fruits and other meats. When your child reaches eight to ten months, you may try feeding your baby finely-chopped pasta, soft fruits, veggies, cheese, done meat, dry cereal and baby crackers.
Baby’s First Food Options
It is an easily digestible food and tolerated quite well by first-time eaters. Other single-grain options include quinoa, barley, brown rice and oats1. Provide iron-fortified cereals as iron is an essential element for blood production and delivery of oxygen in the body. Without enough iron, kids may get pale skin, lack appetite, be prone to slow weight gain and irritability2.
Pureed fruits and veggies
These are versatile and easy to make using sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes and pumpkin3, as well as green beans, spinach, bananas, pears, plums, blueberries, avocados and peaches. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre3. Fruits in particular, also have antioxidants and fibre which boost immunity and promote good digestion4.
Do’s and Don’ts
As your baby is still getting used to solids, give only one type of food within three days to ensure that they are not allergic and allow their digestive system to adapt7. Evidence suggests that introducing allergenic food such as peanuts, eggs and fish can reduce their risk of developing these allergies4. For children with a family history of food allergies or eczema, certain foods should be delayed to avoid serious allergic reaction8. With regards to food allergies, it is always best to consult a pediatrician.
Avoid giving sugary food before the age of one year as it can promote sweet tooth and tooth decay. Instead of fruit juices, provide more nutritious alternatives like milk and whole fruit, which has fibre and promotes healthy digestion6. Salt is another ingredient that should be avoided at this stage as children’s kidneys are still developing. Other foods such as honey should also be avoided before the age of one year as it may have spores causing infant botulism, a disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum5.
With all these tips in mind, you can be sure to have a smooth-sailing introduction to your baby’s first food!
Foods and Drinks for 6 to 24 Month Olds. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/index.html. Accessed 8 Aug 2020.
Iron needs of babies and children. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528681/. Accessed 8 Aug 2020
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.
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.
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.
Should I Give My Child Juice? Here’s What Experts Say. https://time.com/5669503/is-juice-bad-for-you/. Accessed 22 Sept 2020.
Do’s and Dont’s for Solid Foods. https://drsmiths.com/dont-donts-solid-foods/. Accessed 13 Oct 2020.
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.