Is baby getting enough nutrients? How do you prevent him from choking on solids? These tips will ensure that baby stays safe, healthy and happy during his new adventure with solids…

  • Give baby the right amount and types of foods.
  • Prepare the right texture and consistency of food for baby, as he grows.
  • Make sure baby’s food is prepared safely and hygienically.

 

 

3.2

Which Solids and When

There are no “best” solid foods to feed your baby. Your baby can consume almost any type of food, as long as the amount and texture is suitable to be eaten and digested at his age. If you have any concerns about a particular type of food, consult your baby’s doctor for advice.

 

Give your baby a variety of food and gradually increase the quantity to ensure that all nutrient needs are met:

  • Offer a variety of staple foods such as cereals (rice, wheat, barley, oats) and tubers (yam, potatoes, sweet potatoes), all great sources of energy and vitamins.
  • Meat, poultry, fish or eggs should be given on a daily basis as they are the main sources of protein, iron and zinc (1). However, avoid giving egg white to babies aged below 1 year.
  • If milk and foods from animal sources are not consumed in adequate amounts, offer baby both cereals and legumes (eg. mung beans, red beans or dhal) in the same meal
  • Try different coloured fruits (eg. ciku, papaya, dragon fruit, banana, and mango) and dark green leafy vegetables (eg spinach and mustard greens such as bok choy, kangkung and sawi), daily.
  • Limit freshly-squeezed juice, with no added sugar to ½ cup a day. Always go for whole fruit first– skin as well as flesh –as they are always better than juices because they contain fibre.

 

Avoid giving baby processed foods high in sugar, salt, artificial colouring, and preservatives.

Continue breastfeeding on demand in between meals as breast milk is still the main source of energy and nutrients for a baby aged 6 to 12 months.

If you have a family history of allergy, you may need to be careful when offering baby certain foods, like eggs, fish, peanuts, and milk. You may want to introduce only one new food at a time and wait for several days (4-day-wait rule) before you add another new food to make sure your baby does not have a negative reaction to each food type. This will be discussed in more detail in later section.

Don’t be upset if baby rejects certain foods for the first time. Just try them again at a later date. Research shows that babies need to sample new food more than 10 times before accepting it.

 

What foods to avoid

Avoid giving your baby drinks with low nutrient value such as tea, coffee, sweetened condensed milk, syrup, cordials and carbonated drinks.

Some unsuitable foods for babies under 12 months include:

  • Egg white – contains allergenic components that may cause egg allergy
  • Honey – there is a potential risk of bacterial infection from honey.
  • Tea – contains tannins, a substance that can restrict vitamin uptake.
  • Whole nuts – should be avoided due to being a choking hazard.
  • Reduced fat milk – not suitable for children under two.

Recommended Solid Food Schedule

How often your baby should be served solids depends on him. Follow his lead, and ensure that he gets a well-balanced diet of solid foods.

At first, introduce solid foods to baby once daily. You can even start by offering just a spoonful of food, once in every couple of days, especially if your baby seems reluctant to try eating. At these feedings, your child may only take in a spoonful or two of rice cereal, mashed banana, or pureed sweet potato. But he’ll soon start eating more.

You can increase the feeding frequency of complementary foods according to age

Age Meal frequency/day Nutritious snacks/day
6-8months 2-3 times 1-2 times
9-11 months 3-4 times 1-2 times
1-2 years 4-5 times 1-2 times

Source: MDGCA(7)

 

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(Bear in mind that this is just a guide. The actual amount varies based on the individual baby. Always pay attention to baby’s hunger levels, appetite and signs that he is full. Babies are very good at regulating their own food intake.)

How to Prepare Baby Foods Safely

Change baby’s food texture and preparation methods gradually as he gets older. Ideally, baby’s meals should always be freshly prepared

6-8 months: Blended/pureed, mashed and soft foods

9-11 months: Chopped foods + nutritious finger foods such as soft/small slices of fruits (eg. banana, papaya)

12 months onward: family/table foods

Avoid adding salt, sugar and sauces (eg soy sauce) when preparing food for your baby.

In addition, always make sure that you practice good food safety and hygiene while preparing baby foods to prevent baby from food poisoning.

Here are also some tips to prevent baby from choking:

  • Avoid giving chunks of hard food larger than 0.5cm (1/2 of your thumb nail) and supervise children during mealtimes to avoid choking
  • Vegetables like carrots, celery and green beans should be shredded or cooked until soft
  • Cut fruits like grapes into pea-sized pieces before serving
  • Cut meats and cheeses into very small pieces or shred them
  • Remove all bones from fish properly
  • Avoid giving the following to baby
  • Small, hard foods such as candies and whole nuts
  • Soft and sticky foods such as jelly or peanut butter.

 

For further information on infant and child nutrition, please refer to

  1. MINISTRY OF HEALTH MALAYSIA (2013) Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents. Putrajaya: Technical Working Group on Nutritional Guidelines (for National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition).
  2. NUTRITION SOCIETY OF MALAYSIA (2011) Baby’s First Bites. Petaling Jaya: Mother’s Smart Choice.