Weaning from milk to solids

What is weaning?

Weaning on to food is the period to introduce solid food to an infant at around six months of age. The World Health Organisation and Health Promotion Board recommend to fully breastfeed baby for the first six months, and to introduce solid foods thereafter to meet the nutritional needs (especially iron) of the baby.

6 MONTHS – 7 MONTHS

Prepare consistency of food just slightly thicker than milk to start with, gradually thickening consistency as baby progresses. Feed one to two spoons to start with, and slowly increase to one full feed then to two full feeds per day. Remaining feeds will be on milk feeds and ideally from breastfeeding. Introduce one new solid food at a time for two to three days to observe allergic reaction such as rashes, bloated or gassy tummy, diarrhoea or fussiness after eating.

Foods to start with:

  • Baby rice cereal mixed with expressed breast milk or baby formula.
  • Slowly progress to add soft mashed pasta, noodle or porridge.
  • Mashed or finely chopped cooked vegetables such as carrot, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli or spinach.
  • Finely minced and soft cooked meat, beancurd or mashed fish (with all bones removed).
  • Soft ripe fruits such as banana, apple, papaya, avocado or pear.
  • Yoghurt and custard.

8 MONTHS – 9 MONTHS

Gradually increase to three meals a day with milk feeds in between. Provide a variety of food choices with a mixture of soft finger foods and mashed or chopped foods.

Foods include:

  • Carbohydrates to provide energy, such as soft rice, pasta, bread, potato, millets and other starchy foods.
  • Protein for growth, such as meat, eggs, fish, beans and beancurd.
  • Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, while vitamin A is needed to boost the immune system and for healthy skin and eyes. Foods include milk and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and fromage frais.
  • Iron is needed for blood production and a strong immune system. Heme iron is found in meat and fish and is easily absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is found in dark green vegetables, broad beans, fortified cereals and lentils.
  • Fat is essential for children under two years old for energy, while some vitamins are only found in fats. Therefore, whole milk products, yogurt, cheese and oily fish are important.
  • Vitamins and minerals are needed for physical and mental growth, and can be found in brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables.

12 MONTHS ONWARDS

Have three meals a day with chopped meats and vegetable. Include snacks with breast milk or baby formula, fruits, vegetable sticks or toast.

Points to note:

  • Do not use salt or soya sauce for cooking for babies below one year old, as their kidneys are not ready to cope with salt. Do not give them any adult ready-meals as they contain too much salt.
  • Choose pre-packaged food with lowest possible salt and sugar levels.
  • Do not feed honey to babies less than one year old as it will cause infant botulism (a potentially fatal paralytic illness).
  • Do not give babies any diet drinks, juices or squash as they contain artificial sweeteners and will make them develop a sweet tooth.
  • Do not feed babies with fish that is high in mercury, as it is harmful to their developing brain and nervous system. These include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
  • Do not feed babies soft-boiled or raw eggs, soft mould-ripened cheese or liver pate as they could cause food poisoning.
  • Do not feed a child under two with semi-skim milk, and no skim milk for a child under five years old.

What as some signs that my baby is ready for solid foods?

  • Baby is able to hold head up and maintain a steady upright position.
  • Baby can sit well when supported, like sitting in a high chair.
  • Baby is interested in reaching out to try your food.
  • Baby’s tongue thrust reflex has disappeared.
  • Baby can move food from the front to the back and swallow.
  • Baby still looks hungry after a good milk feed, or cries for feeds earlier than scheduled time.
  • Baby has good coordination to grab the food and put it into the mouth.

What should I note when feeding baby?

  • Strict hand washing before handling baby’s food.
  • Always fully cook meat, reheat food to full boil and check temperature of food before giving to baby.
  • Discard unfinished food. Separate portion of amount and keep in fridge if you prepare more than one meal.
  • Always supervise baby during feeding time.
  • Avoid food that might cause choking such as nuts, raisins, raw carrots, fishballs, grapes and candies. Always remove fish bones and check thoroughly before feeding.
  • Provide only spoon but not fork to avoid accidents.