Baby Eats! Part 4: Time for Variety!
Exciting times ahead! Time to introduce variety into baby’s diet. Variety in baby’s diet means baby can absorb a r-a-i-n-b-o-w of nutrients for optimum growth!
What food do we start first? My mother recommended apple (she fondly recalls how I accepted the scrapped apple readily). A nurse at the clinic recommended mashed bananas while the PD says anything will do as long as it is natural. Some friends suggested fish porridge, while some did baby led weaning. So confusing right? Let me clear the air. Vegetables are the most ideal ‘second’ foods simply because it is mild tasting, perhaps a little bitter too. Perfect! In fact, I think the yuckier the better! We need to train the little taste buds to accept a bland taste and it’s much easier if baby had not tasted any sweet food like bananas or sweet potatoes. Most babies will readily accept anything sweet, we are probably genetically programmed to adore sweet foods for survival purposes.
I must say that baby K was pretty co-operative at this stage. Even though she didn’t love the new foods, she ate whatever I fed her. Once baby K was eating rice well, I introduced a variety of grains like brown rice, oats and whole grains (eg: buck wheat etc…). Green vegetables were next: spinach, followed by avocado and broccoli. Check out 'Baby Eats! Video 7: Baby K’s experiences with Greens- Spinach!' 'Video 8: Baby K's experience with Greens- Avocado!'
Have a look at Baby K’s 'Solid' plan. Basically, I introduced a new food every 3 to 4 days. I also started to add 2 ingredients to baby K’s staple (cereal/porridge) after the 4th week. For example, I know that baby K has accepted spinach cereal and I could add a new food like fish or meat to that cereal. Familiarity can help babies accept new foods more readily.
There is no need to follow my plan to the tee, plan a menu that suits your baby. Please note that this list is for a weaning baby and the food repertoire will increase with age. If I have not listed any of your baby’s favourite food here, it doesn’t mean that it's not good. It just means that I introduced it at a later stage. Do practice the 3 days gap when introducing new foods. Try your best not to include 2 new foods in 1 meal as it will be difficult to pin-point the ‘culprit’ should baby react after the meal.
Many parents ask: How much do I feed? Do I skip a milk feed? Do I wean baby off milk? I will recommend a thumb size of a new food together with baby’s staple (about 5 tablespoons of cereals or porridge). I mentioned that the common term ‘Weaning’ may be misleading as we are introducing complementary food into baby’s diet to help him meet increased nutrient need. We are not supposed to wean baby off anything. Your baby still needs about 750ml of milk daily*. It is common for baby’s milk intake to drop after introducing solid foods, hence I try my best to use milk in my menu. I used milk in the cereals and even made mash or purees with my breastmilk. Baby’s appetite will gradually increase and he/she will eventually ‘catch up’ with the milk intake.
Other common questions include: Should we batch freeze? What is the best way to prep baby’s meals? Do we use a blender? Well, I didn’t batch freeze any food. Freezing and thawing affects the nutritional content and I prefer to offer baby fresh food. However, if you are time-tight then batch freezing is ideal for you. Remember to label it well and use your stash within a month. I started with a small hand held blender at first, but I really didn’t like scrapping frantically for the small amount of food stuck on the surface of the container. In fact, I find it hard to blend such a tiny portion! I bought a manual weaning set and I was happy because it worked well and such a breeze to clean up.
Check out Baby Eats! Video 9: Preparing baby food- Easily!
I have come to the end of my series on the topic of ‘weaning’. I hope all parents has learnt a tip/trick or 2 and may your weaning journey be full of many happy healthy meals! If you need extra help, *singing ‘I am just a call away’…