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Baby-led Weaning

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Starting solids is an exciting experience for both baby and parents. Children who have early experiences of eating well,  will grow up to become adults who enjoy all kinds food with enthusiasm. So, do take time to make your little one’s first experience with food not only healthy and safe but also fun, easy and memorable!

Here are some tips and suggested tools for starting solids successfully.

1. Timing is everything

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months. Jennifer Hor of Jenlia Maternal Services who is a midwife, parent educator and author of Asian Parenting Today  advises those who want to start weaning before 6 months to discuss it first with their paediatrician.

Letting baby consume solids before his system matures could lead to long-term digestive problems or allergies. It is also helpful to read up on these issues and to observe your child and know him well.

2. Do Not Delay

WHO and UNICEF note that around the age of 6 months an infant’s need for energy and nutrients start to exceed that which is provided by  breast milk. Minerals like iron and zinc are also lacking. Whilst breast milk or formula will still be baby’s main source of nutrition till the age of one, complementary foods necessary to meet those needs should be offered through a process known as weaning.

If you leave the introduction of solids too late, you may also encounter other problems. An older baby could be more resistant to new foods and textures. He may also stubbornly cling on to the breast or bottle, and may get so accustomed to his liquid diet that he loses interest in learning to chew and swallow solid foods. This can lead to speech delay and other related issues.

3. Look for Signs

Some signs that your baby is ready: he can sit up in a high chair and hold his head up on his own. Additionally, he shows interest in your food (e.g. he loves watching you eat, reaches out to grab things on your plate and opens his mouth when food is offered). Baby should also have lost the “tongue thrust reflex” that makes him automatically push any food out of his mouth with his tongue. If he is doing all the above, your baby is ready  for starting solids.

Get ready, because things may get a little messy. But you can prepare to make things a little easier by prepping yourselves with baby wipes, a baby high chair, and definitely a good bib! One to check out would be OXO Tot Roll Up Bibs, with fabric that rolls up into the pocket for portability.

4. No Cereal in the Bottle Please

This is for babies who are bottle fed. Contrary to any advice an older relative may offer you, baby does not really need the extra calories that cereal adds to formula milk. Thickened formula can lead to overeating and cause gagging. Babies may also accidentally inhale the liquid into their lungs.

5. You don’t have to begin with rice cereal or porridge

Rice cereal or porridge is neutral, risk-free and unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction. However there are other points to consider. For instance, cereal may not be as wholesome as we think it is. Baby may also get so used to this soft diet and become resistant to moving on to more textured foods important to build up his oral motor muscles for speech. Instead, there is a whole movement towards introducing more real foods for babies like vegetable and fruit puree as well as other grains and proteins. Read also about baby led weaning here.

For parents who are going to use fruit purees, it will help to plan meals quick and efficiently. Consider all-in-one containers that can portion, store, freeze, heat and serve home-cooked baby meals. Containers such as OXO Tots’ Glass Baby Blocks, for example, can go directly from the freezer to the oven or microwave. No need to wait until your little one’s meal is fully defrosted before heating it up – a definite timesaver for busy parents.  For parents who are always on the go or travelling with baby, tools that can help with pureeing fruit and vegetables with ease like the OXO Tots’ Baby Food Mill, are a godsend.

Baby Blocks

6. Introduce One New Food at a Time

Wait two to three days when introducing each type of new food, as it’s easier to spot and isolate foods that cause allergic reactions like diarrhoea, vomiting, rashes or breathing problems. Common allergens include egg white, fish and shellfish, wheat, cow’s milk, soy, citrus, and berries. Paediatricians used to recommend delaying the introduction of egg whites, fish, and peanuts. However the American Academy of Paediatrics is now giving these a green light at 6 months. In fact, they believe delaying the introduction of these foods may increase the chances of your child developing an allergy to them. 

That said, if there is a family history of food allergies, it is best to discuss with your paediatrician the right timing to introduce high allergy foods. All babies should avoid honey until the first birthday. Honey can be contaminated with botulism spores, and the risk of botulism is greatest in infants.

7. Try and Try Again

Baby may actually need to try a food 10 times before accepting it. Don’t confuse initial rejection with permanent dislike. If baby rejects a food initially, take a break and offer it again another day. You could also opt to mix it in with something you know he already likes.

There is a window of opportunity to introduce children to novel foods that supposedly closes after they are weaned and before they turn two. So, do make the best of this period. Offer different types of tastes and cuisines to develop your child’s palate. Don’t just offer chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese or spaghetti bolognese. Try Indian dhal and chapathi, Chinese-style steamed fish, or Japanese udon.

You can also try serving food up in a fun and creative way. OXO Tots’ plain feeding plates and bowls, for example, may seem boring and bland at first but these give you more leeway in terms of how you serve the food. With their divided feeding dishes, you can opt to mix different foods up or keep them separate.

8. Replace sugar and salt with herbs and spices

Processed sugar and salt should be avoided during baby weaning, It should also be minimised for older children. A preference for salty foods may predispose your child to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, stomach cancer and obesity when they become adults.

Take a page from award-winning chefs who feed their children lots of fresh vegetables and simple foods, regarding these as “the building blocks of flavour”. These chefs believe that “babies have palates that are pure and uncontaminated; and so need to be given clean and fresh foods first.” Baby food does not have to be bland. Try natural spices, herbs and flavour enhancers like pepper, cumin, cilantro, cinnamon, nutmeg, basil, rosemary, lemongrass, tamarind, garlic, lemon zest, chilli or even curry powder!

9. Let Baby Dictate the Pace

Whether you start with fresh purees or finger foods or a combination, your baby should dictate how fast and how much food to eat. When baby eats finger foods or transitions into solids via baby led weaning, this comes naturally.

But if you are spoon-feeding, be mindful of baby’s cues before pushing more food into his mouth. Let him lean forward and open his mouth to show you that he’s ready to have more. You are teaching him to listen to his body and honour his own cues of hunger and fullness. This skill will serve him well throughout life.

As they get older, encouraging them to help themselves will also pave the way for greater independence. Encouraging them to use their own utensils or drink cups themselves will help the process. Using cups like OXO Tots’ Grow Soft Sprout Cup and then continuing to Straw Cups  and then Training Cups will help tots (and parents!) transition from their first post-bottle sippy to their first big kid cup in a systematic way.

10. Model Healthy Eating Habits in Your Household

Your child will eventually want to eat exactly what is on your plate. If there are always deep fried foods or sugary treats on your table, that’s what he will see as the norm. It is also important to be honest with kids, and not to trick them into trying something. Children will call out hypocrisy or double standards when they see it.

As a parent, try not to emphasise your own dislike for certain foods, as it will influence your children and cause them to prematurely reject those foods before giving them a chance. Finally, make mealtimes memorable and pleasant.

 


We hope these tips and tools will help you to triumph at mealtime! Remember that all babies are different and progress at different rates. Some will eat like a pro with no fuss from day one, others will not. Just trust that all babies will get it eventually and do the best you can.

Experienced makchics, please share your own tips, tricks and tools relating to your child’s first solids encounter with us!

By Li-Hsian Choo

 

OXO Tot is available at Happikiddo and other retailers near you.

This is a sponsored post presented by Bloom and Grow Asia.

BLWFamily1

At risk of sounding a tad bourgeois, I admit that one of the things I’ve taken for granted while growing up is eating. Many daughters of “tiger parents” may have experienced the same since we grew up being told that getting food in your belly isn’t a responsibility, but doing well in school, getting a degree and nailing that corporate job are. Even when we’re older, cooking takes a backseat while eating out becomes the norm.

That changes when a baby enters the picture.

When my husband and I learned we were expecting, my mum started providing home-cooked food to make sure I ate better. We also moved into my parents’ for the confinement period and we ended up staying longer. While I went back to work, my mum began extending the family meals to the baby. I gladly relinquished the responsibility as I was grateful for the break.

When my son, Aidan, turned one, we followed my husband on his diplomatic posting, which took us away from familiar food and routines. Aidan’s appetite was increasing and we never developed a taste for the Indonesian way of cooking. Overnight, I became a stay-at-home parent and was responsible for feeding my family.

Preparing family meals wasn’t easy initially, especially not with a toddler and a bear of a husband to feed. Between planning, finding nutritious recipes for tots and adults alike, and portioning, I found that baby-led weaning (BLW) made things easier because I could cook everyone’s meals in one go.

So here’s what I’ve discovered on my journey so far:

Plan Ahead
A shopping list and calendar on the fridge is all that’s needed to get sorted. I use the Organized Mums’ Weekly Planner Calendar (from Kaleidoscope, Publika) and Knock Knock’s All Out Of Pads (from Sundays, Bangsar Village II). I’d spend 10 minutes on Saturday mornings deciding on a meal plan for the rest of the week, listing down ingredients that are needed. Writing it out means you get to see an overview of the week’s meals and if the family is getting a balanced diet. Getting organised greatly helps to minimise prep time and the frustration around cooking. It also increases the chances of having the stuff I need to quickly throw a meal together.

Put Time Aside for Prep
As soon as I get back from grocery shopping, I’d have the poultry, meats and fish cleaned and fruits soaked before storing so it would be easy to use when it’s time to cook. I make homemade stocks for soup, pureed vegetables to sneak into meals and blended spices in advance, which are time savers when I’m cooking.

Cook Together
Involving your child in meal preparation, serving and cleaning up doesn’t just make the job easier, but it also increases the likelihood of him eating what he’s helped to make. Aidan’s given non-breakables like plastic measuring cups, steel pots and pans, and wooden spoons while I’m on the stove. It always results in fantastic bonding sessions involving music and dancing.

Don’t Be Discouraged by Picky Eaters
It can be hard when your child refuses to eat what you’ve painstakingly spent time on. After a few rejections of my own, I was worried if my toddler was getting enough to eat. However, when you take the BLW route, choice is a large element of many meals. I realised that Aidan needed a variety of flavours before he and I find his favourites. A quick fix I’ve found is to lay out a plate of finger food – ranging from fruits to bread fingers – that’s available within his reach at any time of day.

Serve the Rainbow
I incorporate a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables as a guide to healthy eating in BLW. The different colour categories not only carry its own set of unique disease-fighting chemicals, but also increases visual appeal on a plate and the chance of kids picking something up to eat. Mealtimes become fun lessons waiting to happen.

I’ve begun to associate cooking with an expression of love. It demonstrates a willingness to learn and a commitment to providing the best for your family. It makes you conscious of everything that’s being put into your child’s mouth in a way you’ve never thought for yourself. It makes you want to eat better so that you and your partner can live a long and healthy life to see him grow up. BLW complements our parenting philosophies. Being able to eat together with our son encourages a wholesome family food culture and healthy food habits that I hope will last him a lifetime.

Khairun is mum to 18-month old Aidan and owner of Recovr Resources Sdn Bhd, a growing social enterprise in the recycling and equal employment industry. She and her husband Max are currently living in Jakarta, and are expecting a daughter in December.

The funnest part of baby-led weaning is finding healthy, balanced recipes for everyone in the family. Contributor Khairun invited us into her kitchen to take a peek at some of her favourite baby-friendly recipes:

 

Menu - pancakes

Pancakes are easy to make and fast to get on the table. It’s yummiest hot so best eaten right off the pan – encourage a beeline for it! This recipe makes just enough for mum, dad and baby.

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture and whisk until just combined.
  3. Heat a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet or griddle over a medium fire. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.
  4. For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round. (1 tablespoon is enough to make pancake dimes for baby)
  5. Pancakes are ready when bubbles rise from the batter and a few have burst. Flip with a thin spatula and cook until browned on the underside. Continue with more oil and remaining batter.
  6. For added protein, add fruit like bananas or blueberries on top. Serve as is or with desired dip.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart’s basic pancake recipe.

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Screen shot 2013-10-01 at 3.38.04 PM

This recipe isn’t just universally pleasing, it’s quick to make and provides a healthy dose of creamy calcium. My toddler loves this dish as it is but my meat-lover husband would add in boiled sausages or sliced turkey ham for the extra taste.

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  2. Preheat oven to 190°C and grease a 9 x 12-inch baking dish.
  3. Heat butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and brown onions. Whisk in flour to combine. Slowly whisk in milk to prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar cheese, salt and carrot puree. Whisk until smooth. Stir the cheese mixture into the pasta.
  4. Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Bake until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and the breadcrumbs begin to brown, 20 minutes.

Note: I prepare purees in advance and refrigerate in an airtight container for later use.

Source: Adapted from Double Delicious: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives by Jessica Seinfeld.

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Menu - Soup

When the bugs are going around, this rich and creamy soup does the trick in filling those hungry tummies that won’t keep anything else down. The little ones have a choice of their favourite vegetable to pick on or slurp up the soup if they don’t feel like anything solid. They’d be feeling better in no time.

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, pepper and paprika. Cook until the vegetables soften but do not brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the rice and cook 1 to 2 minutes more until the ends of the rice turn translucent.
  2. Add the water and broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and cover. Turn off the heat and let the chicken cook in the hot water until it’s no longer pink in the bone, 25 to 30 minutes. Once the chicken has cooked through, removed the meat from the bone, shred it and return it to the pot.
  3. Stir purees into the soup. In a small bowl, mash cornstarch into the cream cheese. Remove 1 cup of the soup and whisk it into the cream cheese mixture until smooth and all lumps are gone. Stir the soup and cream-cheese mixture back into the pot and warm through if necessary. Stir in the lemon juice just before serving.

Note: I prepare purees in advance and refrigerate in an airtight container for later use.

Source: Adapted from Double Delicious: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives by Jessica Seinfeld.

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Menu - Roast Chicken

It’s the weekend and guests are coming over. This fool-proof recipe is easy to make, balanced and never fails to impress. The lower thigh of the chicken is reserved for little one which keeps him occupied and frees me up to entertain friends and family.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Finely grate lemon zest into a bowl and add 2 chopped cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and teaspoon of olive oil; mix. Rub mixture under the chicken skin. Rub butter, olive oil and salt onto chicken skin and inside the cavity of the chicken. Roll lemon on a hard surface with the palm of your hand to release juices and use a fork to punch holes through the surface of the lemon. Stuff lemon and remaining garlic cloves inside chicken cavity. Tuck wingtips under the chicken and cross its legs.
  3. Line roasting tray with sliced onions. Place chicken on top together with potatoes and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Roast until juices run clear, about 50 minutes.
  4. Pour the meat juices from the roasting tray into a saucepan. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Use as gravy to serve.

Tip: Remove chicken skin if you want to reduce fat and calories.

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Menu - Smoothie

A smoothie adds to the family’s calcium, vitamin and protein intake that’s also disguised as sweet treat! A snack, dessert or even breakfast on-the-go, smoothies are versatile and popular with adult and toddler alike. In my home, this one’s a favourite.

Method:

  1. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Stir if necessary. Serve immediately.

Tip: If your strawberries are on the sour side, add vanilla ice cream for the sweetness.

Khairun is mum to 18-month old Aidan and owner of Recovr Resources Sdn Bhd, a growing social enterprise in the recycling and equal employment industry. She and her husband Max are currently living in Jakarta, and are expecting a daughter in December