Last Saturday, we attended ‘Weaning Your Baby’, an event organised by Philip Avent. The programme included talks by Dr Yvonne Ng Peng Mei, Consultant, National University Hospital and Mrs Wong Boh Boi, Assistant Director, Thomson Medical Centre, as well as a live demonstration on how to prepare two yummy baby recipes using the Avent steamer cum blender. Participants were later treated to a scrumptious buffet lunch.
Below are my takeaways from what the two speakers had shared.
Dr Ng – Tips on Weaning
Dr Ng highlighted that according to international guidelines on weaning, the recommended period for babies starting on semi-solids is not before 17 weeks and not later than 26 weeks. She stressed that babies need energy-dense and nutrient-dense food, which are to complement and not replace milk.
She advised that new food be introduced every few days to see if baby can tolerate it. She said that the most common sign of allergy is break out of rashes. Parents should worry when their babies develops serious signs of allergy like swollen eyes and difficulty breathing. Egg white, peanut and seafood, which are common in causing allergies, should be delayed till one year old.
Lumpy foods can be introduced from 10 months onwards. When babies reach eight, nine months old, they can be given finger foods. Parents should note that salt should not be used in baby’s food until after baby turns one-year-old.
As for fruit juices, Dr Ng cautioned against giving too much – it should be limited to 120ml per day for babies less than 12 months, and not more than 240ml for babies older than 12 months.
She added that meal times should be an enjoyable affair for the baby. However, there should not be excessive playing during feeding either.
6 months – purees, mashed foods
8 months – finger foods
12 months – family food
She directed the audience to the Health Promotion Board’s website for more information.
When Dr Ng flashed the HPB guidelines on the screen, some members of the audience were surprised. Dr Ng said the recommended portions do appear quite large, so asked parents to moderate it (I took a look at the guideline again after the event; it says for babies up to 12 months, so perhaps that's why the portions look big? For younger babies, we just need to reduce the amount accordingly).
Mrs Wong – Make Feeding Fun and Educational
As Dr Ng had mentioned, Mrs Wong reiterated that parents should make eating fun, and one way to do so is to let babies eat with the family. This is also a good way for babies to learn socialising. In addition, she advised parents not to let babies eat in a corner of the house, it’s as if they are being punished. Parents can also make feeding fun by taking turns to feed each other – mommy feed baby, and baby feed mommy!
Mrs Wong noted that some parents like to keep wiping baby’s mouth when feeding. She told parents not to be obsessed with wiping, and accept that feeding a baby is going to be a messy affair. The reason being that babies associate wiping of mouth as the end of a meal, so if parents keep wiping, they will get confused and wonder why have they finish eating so many times! This drew bouts of laughter from the audience.
As for types of first foods, infant cereal is the most common. According to the slide she showed, from six months, parents can prepare cereal by adding four tablespoons of infant cereal to 200ml of milk in a bowl. Mixed into a paste and feed baby with a teaspoon.
Other examples of food that are good as first foods include sweet potato, potato, porridge, papaya, banana and pumpkin.
When introducing new food, Mrs Wong advised that if baby doesn’t like something, take it away for a while and then reintroduce it later, and in smaller portions. She said parents can also try disguising the food e.g. feed it to the baby with some other foods and make it colourful too.
However, parents should not to force babies to eat something. After all, feeding is not a battle, she pointed out. More importantly, don’t bargain with your baby.
Here's a feeding guide Mrs Wong shared:
During the Q&A session, one mommy from the audience asked why is it that her baby seems to have problems swallowing foods like sweet potato. Mrs Wong explains that sweet potato and potato tend to be more dry, so parents can add milk to make it easier for babies to swallow.
Mrs Wong suggested that parents don’t have to mix all the foods together all the time, it can look unappealing (one example popped into my mind - mixing spinach and pumpkin – I bet the colour will look awful!), and the taste may not be so nice when you mix everything together. So put the food separately, and also give baby chance to taste the original taste of each type of food.
Then she reminded the audience that it’s very common that babies don’t get enough of iron, so parents should take note of this when preparing babies’ meals.
After turning one year old, babies can take food from family meal and it's not necessary to cook separate food for them.
After Mrs Wong’s segment, there was a live demonstration on how to use the Philip Avent steamer cum blender.
The facilitator did two recipes for the audience to try. Bubt I only managed to taste one of them – the Chickadee Dreams (chicken, carrots and sweet potato) and I love it! It’s amazing how tasty it is and there’s no salt or sugar added!!
We've bought the Avent blender cum steamer recently. Seeing how easy it was to prepare baby foods with this gadget gave my confidence a boost. I'm looking forward to the day when I start Kenan on semi-solids, I hope to make it a fun adventure for him!
Here are some simple, easily digestible articles on weaning:
1. Weaning Your Baby onto Solids
2. Weaning Winners
3. "Wean" your baby over with nutritious organic Healthy Times baby food!
3. Recommended dietary allowances (HPB)
4. Rashes and Runs - When Food is the Culprit