Baby food 101: The basics

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Read about the basics of giving your baby solid food for the first time.

Your baby is around 6 months old and is grabbing wildly at everything you eat. You know that he’s now ready to start eating solid food and you’re very excited about seeing him ‘eat’ for the first time ever!

But with the excitement, you may also start to feel slightly overwhelmed by all the baby food products in the market, and by all the information you might hear from friends and relatives, or read in books or on the Internet.

To make this time a bit less overwhelming for you, here’s some information related to some of the the most common questions about baby food.

baby food

Stepping into the world of solid food is an exciting time for both you and your baby!

When is my baby ready for solids?

According to Gina Shaw of WebMD, most babies are ready for their first taste of solids by the time they are 6 months old. She explains that by this ages, babies lose what’s called the ‘extrusion reflex’ that they use for sucking a breast or bottle.

Here are some signs that your baby may be ready for solids:

  • He can sit up with support, and also hold his head up well.
  • He can keep food in his mouth rather than let it dribble out.
  • His birth weight has doubled.
  • He shows plenty of interest in what you’re eating.

How do I choose the best food for my baby?

Experts point out that around the time babies are ready to start eating solid food (6 months), their natural stores of iron begin to deplete.

Because of this, the Health Promotion Board of Singapore (HPB) recommends giving your baby iron-fortified cereal, as well as foods naturally rich in iron, as some of his first foods.

Making your baby’s food at home

If you are planning to make your baby’s food at home, keep the texture smooth and runny to help your baby enjoy the process of learning how to eat.

The HPB recommends giving your baby soft, mashed fruit and cooked strained vegetables. They also advise giving soft protein-rich foods such as soybean curd, cooked and mashed lentils, and finely flaked fish.

As your baby’s ability to chew and bite improves, you could add finely minced meat and finely shredded poultry in his diet.

baby food

Banana is a great first food for babies.

Here are some fruit and vegetable options that are appropriate first foods for your baby:

  • Avacado: Avocados are full of essential fats and nutrients for your little one, including vitamins A, C, niacin and folate; and the minerals potassium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and calcium.
  • Pears: Containing vitamins A, C and folate, and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium, pears are an ideal first food for your baby.
  • Sweet potato: This vibrant orange yam is a super-food and is chock-full of vitamins such as vitamins A, C and folate, and minerals like potassium, selenium, magnesium and calcium.
  • Pumpkin: A strong favourite with babies, pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A and beta carotene, and is also a great source of potassium, protein and iron.
  • Banana: Another popular first food choice for babies, bananas contain vitamins A, C and folate, and minerals like potassium, selenium, magnesium and calcium.
baby food

Supermarkets all over Singapore carry a large range of bottled baby foods.

Buying your baby’s first food from the supermarket

Most baby food jars are labelled according to your baby’s stage of development. So if you’re looking for first foods, look for jars labeled as Stage 1, which contain food pureed to an appropriate consistency for your little one.

What to check:

  • The expiry date on the jar label/lid
  • That the vacuum seal on the lid is intact and hasn’t ‘popped’ — the center of the lid should be slightly indented
  • The ingredients — they shouldn’t contain added salt, sugar, preservatives, modified starch or colouring
  • Stage 1 foods should ideally contain just one ingredient, i.e., the fruit or vegetable it is made of.

Also, before you open the jar to feed your baby, don’t forget to wipe the lid and then check that when you open it, you hear a popping sound which indicates that the seal was intact.

More about baby food on the next page…

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