Introducing semi solid food to babies is often a very exciting time. It signifies a new stage in baby’s development. WHO recommends that complementary food (weaning) to be introduced from about 6 months of age as baby is more developmentally ready to explore and tolerate semisolids. It is also necessary as baby’s nutrition needs are increasing challenging the nutrients in the breast milk. Although it is recommended that babies be breast fed longer than 6 months, breast milk alone is insufficient to provide all the necessary nutrients and energy needed by the ever more physically and mentally active baby.
Guidelines to weaning include:
- Only one new food to be introduced at a time
- Repeat the new food for 3-4 days
- Offer only 2 teaspoonful of each new food
- Offer new food before 2 pm.
The above guidelines are to aid parents to detect possible food allergies or sensitivity Generally, foods that are least allergen such as fruits, vegetable and rice are the usual first few food most parents start with. While ensure that all food are properly washed and cooked to avoid contamination, it is also necessary to start by introducing very soft and finely mashed food. Wheat, meat and fish can be introduced from about 8-9 months of age or later if/as advised by medical professional.
Tips to encourage baby to stay interested in eating
- Vary the menu regularly ( This also ensures that baby gets all the necessary nutrients from the different foods)
- Offer food of varying texture and taste to encourage eating
- Encourage baby to try self-feeding by using feeding utensils that are age appropriate. This may and will involve using hands and fingers which will also aid baby’s fine motor and cognitive development
- Allow baby to be the judge as to how much he will eat
- Offer 1-2 snacks a day if baby is a small eater
- Explore and experiment with new ways to encourage baby to stay interested in eating
- Relax and remind yourself that our appetite including baby’s will vary from day to day.
- Maintain eye contact during feeding
- Always supervise children during feeding
As each baby is an individual, there is no exact or right time to move to more textured or finger food or the right amount to be given at each meal. However, when baby is about 12 months old, he should be able to eat with the family eating most of their less salty food cut into small bite sizes or coarsely mashed. Interact with baby when feeding. Varying the method of cooking and eating together with baby whenever possible will aid in avoiding cooking a buffet for each meal. Allowing baby to explore new texture, to try to feed himself with his hands /fingers, to make a mess and to lead will ensure that eating is both fun and enjoyable for all parties involved.
September 2014. IBU
Caption on pic:
Baby enjoying her meal
Baby self feeding
Credits: pictures courtesy of Maree & Sam Haley
- This article was published in the October 2014 issue Of Bonda Magazine