Getting started - Common queries


Title:Getting started - Common queries

Sub-heading: Query 1, Starting solid food: the earlier, the better?

Father A: Let's have our baby try rice cereal tomorrow.

Mother A: What? Our baby is only 4 months old

Father A: I think that's OK. I chatted with Mr. Chan who lives next door this morning. His baby is only 4 months old too but he is already much bigger. He told me that his baby has already started eating rice cereal. Come on! We have to catch up with them.

Narrator: Do you think this father was right? Is it true that the earlier babies start eating solid food the better?

Hostess: Babies differ in their growth and development. It is not true that the earlier babies start solid food, the faster they grow. In general, the suitable age to introduce solid food is at around 6 months old. If started on solid food too soon, babies may drink less milk. This may negatively affect their growth. To know if your baby is ready for solid food, you should observe his behavior.

Sub-heading: Not ready to start solid food

Scene: The grandmmother is feeding her grandson, who was sitting on a highchair, solid food with a spoon.

Grandmother: Come and eat!

Narrator: When your baby is sitting, he does not support his head well. When you feed him, he pushes back against the spoon with his tongue or keeps spitting out the food. Apart from this, babies younger than 6 months old should not eat food other than milk. This is because their kidneys and guts are not yet mature. Feeding solid food too soon can also easily lead to food allergies.

Hostess: Now that we have discussed the signs that babies are not yet ready for solid food, when can we be sure that babies are ready? Generally, babies can try solid food when they reach 6 months old. When your baby shows the following signs, it means that he is ready to eat solid food.

Sub-heading: Ready to eat solid food

Narrator: These signs include: He can sit stably against the back of the chair. He is also able to reach out his hands to grasp onto objects. When he sees the spoon coming, he opens his mouth and no longer pushes the spoon out. He also swallows the food rather than spitting it out. If your baby shows the above signs, you can start feeding him solid food. Though some 6-month olds can sit upright and stably in a high chair when they are fed, they still push the food away with their tongues or try to spit the food out. These babies are not yet ready for solid food. Don't force them. Try again in another week

Sub-heading: Query 2, My baby has no teeth yet. Can he eat solid food?

Mother B: Daddy, our baby eats cereal quite well now. Why don't we let him try veggies?

Father B: But he hasn't got any teeth yet. Can he handle veggies?

Mother B: I think it should be okay if I make the vegetables into puree.

Narrator: Do you agree with her?

Hostess: She's right! Babies without teeth can also try solid food as long as the food is made into a suitable texture for them to handle and swallow. Let's find out more on textures suitable for babies.

Sub-heading: Food Texture

Narrator: To begin, give your baby smooth puree, then gradually move on to mashed food. After that, try lumpier and chopped food. Let's take pumpkins and fish as an example. Baby usually starts eating solid food at about 6 months old. The food texture should be runny and smooth. Gradually the food should be thickened. At about 7 months old, baby can eat smooth mashed food. Later he can move on to eating soft food mashed with tiny lumps. At around 9 to 12 months old, he can eat finely chopped food that is a bit chewy like the texture of bananas. From 1 to 2 years of age, babies' chewing ability is getting better. They are able to eat soft adult food. Still, food should be chopped or cut into smaller pieces.

Sub-heading: Query 3, Will my baby grow faster and taller if he eats more?

Mother C: Sweetheart, finish your congee. Have some more. It's good for you.

Father C: She seems full already. Look, she doesn't even want to open her mouth when the mother brings a spoonful of food to her baby’s lips.

Mother C: Eating a little more shouldn't be a problem. Ah... Open your mouth. Have some more to help you grow.

Narrator: Most parents wish for their children to grow faster and taller. Do you think that babies will grow taller and faster if you make them eat more?

Hostess: Babies need adequate and suitable nutrients to grow but babies who eat more may not necessarily grow any taller. Rather, they may suffer from obesity or other related illnesses. In fact, how fast or slow a baby grows is decided by genes as well as his development when he was in his mother's womb. For a baby to grow healthily all of his nutritional needs must be met. The most important role of parents is to offer babies suitable food like breast-feeding the baby and providing him a variety of nutritious foods. Then, he should be fed according to his appetite. In this way, babies can have the right amount of nutrients to support their growth. In fact, babies know how much they need to eat for their growth and activities.

Sub-heading: Babies know how much they need to eat

Narrator: For example, when a baby is able to walk by himself and moves around all day he then uses a lot of energy in playing and activities. Therefore he eats more food. Or during the first 2 to 3 months of life, babies grow very fast and therefore eat more. After the 3rd month of life, babies need fewer calories. They eat little and act like they do not wish to eat. This means that they do not need to eat as much. These are normal. Parents should follow babies' sign of fullnesss during feeding. When babies are full do not force them to eat more.