Being a first time mom, I often feel inadequate about caring for Kenan. So whenever there are talks which I think are useful, I will try to attend, granted that I'm not busy with work. Last Wednesday, I was at another weaning talk, this time Mrs Wong was the only speaker and it was organised by TMC.
Food and allergies
I was about 15 minutes late; Mrs Wong was talking about the different types of food and their potential in causing allergy when I arrived. I didn't manage to copy all the types of food. Below is what I jotted down:
Level 1 (least allergic):
Rice, pear, prune, apple, pork
Level 2 (can cause some allergies):
Barley, apricot, beef, wheat, plum, spinach, cabbage, oat, cherry, cauliflower, broccoli, banana, potato, corn, chicken, peach, turnip
Level 3 (common allergy culprits):
Legume, berries, cow’s milk
She advised that if babies develop rashes from eating any of the above food (the reactions usually show up within 4 hours of consuming the food), parents should stop it for one week, then reintroduce it again and in smaller amounts.
But if serious allergies develop, e.g. swollen eyes, difficulty breathing, then keep it away for a much longer period.
Preparing baby purees and stock
When it comes to preparing baby purees, Mrs Wong feels that using fork to mash the food is good enough. She said it's alright to give babies foods that is textured rather than being too finely blended.
In addition, when it comes to some vegetables and fruits where the skin needs to be remove, such as pumpkin and potato, don't peel the skin first. Instead, steam them first then scoop out the flesh as this will help retain some of the vitamins found in the skin, said Mrs Wong.
Moving on to the preparation of stock, she commented that fish bones are a good option. Next comes pork bones, then chicken and others. Pork is a better option than chicken because the latter are usually injected with growth hormones, unless you are using kampong chicken, then that should be safer.
She said when making stock, don't chop the bones into small pieces and don't cook them for too long. The recommended time is about two hours. Chopping the bones into small pieces and overcooking will cause the marrow to seep into the stock and there had been some reports pointing to the potential danger of certain diseases being passed to humans through the consumption of bone marrows (such as mad cow disease).
In making the stock, Mrs Wong recommended double boiling as you will get a good concentrated stock of goodness. If you don't have a double boiler or a 炖盅 at home, the other way to do it is to put the bones in a smaller pot, then put that into a larger pot filled with some water and then boil it (it's not necessary to add water into the small pot of bones, but if you want to have a bit more stock, can add a tiny amount). By the way, it seems like only a small amount of stock is produced each time, so if you want to make enough to freeze, then you need to buy more bones. Mrs Wong said the stock can be frozen for up to a month.
If you are making fish stock, remember to sieve it and remove any bones. For the other kinds of stock, skim off some fats as babies can't take too much fats.
In addition, it is good to let baby test out the stock to see if there's any allergies before using it to make porridge.
Then someone in the audience mentioned about using ikan bilis to make stock for babies. Mrs Wong said to avoid ikan bilis because it’s too salty and is bad for small babies, especially their kidneys (same for things like Bovril; after all, they should not take salt until they reach one-year-old). Then another participant suggested soaking it overnight, but Mrs Wong pointed out doing so will remove all the nutrients.
Other types of food
Fish: Cod and threadfin are good to introduce first. Salmon's taste is stronger so mommies may like to start that a bit later.
Noodles: Some Chinese yellow noodles contain a certain type of acid (I didn't manage to catch the name) which is bad for babies (and pregnant moms). A good alternative is to use Italian pasta.
Soy products: Don't give boys too much soy-based products as the estrogen can affect the male reproductive organs. Even girls should not eat too much as it can cause early menstruation.
Spinach: Maximum three times a week, if not will have too much iron.
Egg yolks: Maximum three yolks a week*
Chinese herbs: Cordycep (东虫草) can be taken from one year onwards. Red dates and wolfberries (枸杞) are good and can be given to babies. But wolfberries can be sourish if cooked for too long, so put in later. Red dates must remove seeds if not it will be heaty. Bird’s nest has a high risk of causing allergy, so give much later when child is a few years old.
*After note: I was doing some reading up on the internet and noted that there are some slight difference in opinions as to when egg yolks can be introduced to a weaning baby. Some websites state from eight to nine months, others say it's ok to give from six months onwards. But when it comes to egg white, all agree that it is to be given from one year onwards.