How do I know when to start Weaning?
Most babies should start taking a mixed diet by about 6 months cos they need more iron. Relatively later after 26 weeks may make babies less receptive to new tastes, flavours and textures. Any earlier than 17 weeks, baby’s digestive system is not mature yet.
You might wanna consider introducing first foods when your LO:
1. does not seem satisfied after his usual milk feeds and you have tried feeding more often OR reduced milk intake (dislikes milk)
2. can sit up
3. lost his “tongue-thrust” reflex (does not automatically pushes things out of his mouth)
4. mouthing, can pick up small things and put them in his mouth (developed the “pincher” grip, grabbing things between his thumb and forefinger)
5. shows interest to your food
6. sudden night-wakings when he has been sleeping through the night previously
Premature babies will be ready to start around 6-8 months after their birth because they do catch up with their birth age due to their experiences outside the womb. Discuss with your GP or PD on what’s best for your baby.
What do I feed at first?
Most parents start with baby rice/porridge or iron-fortified cereal as it is highly neutral and less likely to cause allergic reactions.
There’s mixed opinions on whether brown or white rice is better. Brown rice, without the milling process, retains more nutrients and is naturally healthier. But local pediatrician Dr. Ang Aik Tin states that brown rice is more suited for adults and contains phytate which blocks iron absorption, as well as calcium and zinc. It also causes baby to feel full and hamper their calories intake. White rice, usually made of highly processed white rice, is stripped of it’s nutrients and is what PD Alan Greene suggests: “feeding sugar to the baby.” and potential danger for obesity.
I believe if baby doesn’t have a particular sensitivity, brown or white doesn’t make a big difference as baby will be taking nutrients from other sources like milk and veg/meat as well. “Obesity is about an excess of calories, not about a particular food.” (Keith Ayoob, Ped) Introducing brown rice into his diet probably just adds to the variety. Especially in Chinese Asian countries, disregarding white rice is almost impossible as we have a white-rice eating culture.
How and when do I feed?
Start with single food and continue for 4-5 days before proceeding to the next food so in it’s easier to determine allergy culprits. Try introducing new food in the morning, late morning or mid-afternoon when baby is awake and adventurous, not sleepy and ravenous. This also allows time for any allergy to show up before the end of the day.
Offer 1 tsp of baby rice/cereal mixed with his usual milk to orientate baby and increase amount slowly.
Potential fussy eaters & solutions: 1. Babies who are very small or big in birth- give small, frequent feeds 2. Poor salivation (genetic)- add more fluids 3. Rejecting most feeds (sensitive taste buds)- make milder tasting food 4. Poor mothering mindset (forcing food, repetitive meals, negative comments)- Encourage and let baby feed at will 5. Distracted- take away distractions
Babies are naturally born sweet-toothed and enjoys food like sweet potato and pumpkin, banana and papaya. However, these food are more glycemic (high sugar) and it’s important to expose babies to a variety of food, as they tend to eat only familiar food from 18 mths to 2 years old.
Symptoms my baby is allergic to a food: Upset gut, unusual rashes or phelgm and fussy behaviour (most prob due to upset tummy)
Wheat, gluten glues food together and is to be avoided when constipated. Black particles or blood in stools is abnormal and should be alerted to your GP/PD. Consider the texture over frequency of stools. Soft, slightly runny stool every 1-3 days is normal. Papaya, pear are good sources to aid bowel movements. Glucose can be administered to irritate bowels in cases of constipation.
*Information above is consolidated from: “kellymom.com”, “First Foods- Expert advice and easy recipes by dietitians for parents of 6-24 months old”, “First Foods and Weaning- The National Childbirth Trust”, Dr Ang Aik Tin’s “Weaning” talk on 26 Nov 2011.
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