My baby is 6 months old and has been exclusively breastfed but now I want to start solids. Which foods are best to begin with because I’m getting conflicting advice from my mother and mother-in-law?
Confused mum, Shah Alam
When breast milk is no longer enough to meet the nutritional needs of the infant, complementary foods should be added to the diet of the child. The World Health Organization recommends that infants start receiving complementary foods at 6 months of age in addition to breast milk, initially two to three times a day between 6 and 8 months, increasing to three to four times daily between 9 and 11 months and 12 and 24 months with additional nutritious snacks offered one to two times per day.
It doesn’t matter what baby’s first solid foods are. Traditionally, single grain cereals are introduced first but there is no evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order has an advantage for your baby. You can start off by giving your baby a variety of energy-rich foods such as cereals (porridge rice, bread) and tubers (potato, sweet potato, yam). Other examples of first foods include mashed or soft-cooked fruit and vegetables such as carrot, apple or pear or soft fruits such as melon, ripe bananas, and papaya or avocado.
Start with a few teaspoons of solids and gradually increase the amount. If, at first, your baby is not too keen to try new foods, try adding breast milk to his foods to help him get used to the taste. If you have a family history of allergies, you may want to introduce only one new food at a time and wait for several days (four-day-wait rule) before you add another new food to make sure your baby does not have a negative reaction to each food type.
Remember to continue breastfeeding your baby on demand until up to 2 years of age, as breastmilk is still your baby’s main source of energy.
Answers provided by Dr Lim Kok Chong
consultant paediatrician, Columbia Asia Hospital — Bukit Rimau.
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