When Lauren was slightly over 4 months old, she seemed very interested in our food, she even reached out for it a few times. That was when I knew my baby was ready for solid foods.
Introducing solids to your baby is a huge milestone. You may have read countless articles to confirm if you should start her on solids. If your baby is between 4 – 6 months old, has doubled her birth weight, able to keep her head in steady, upright position and 8 – 10 feedings of breast milk or formula no longer seems to satisfy her hunger, she is probably ready.
Which food to start her on?
You can either start her on store bought bottled purees or make your own. While store bought baby purees are convenient, they are expensive and can’t keep once opened. It will be a waste especially in the early days when your baby can only take in 1 – 2 tablespoons per feeding.
Most people start their infant on single grain cereal like rice, brown rice, barley, or oats. I started Lauren on pumpkin, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, applesauce and pears because there are more vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables. But the choice is totally up to you.
How do you start?
Nurse or bottle-feed your baby first. Keep to your usual milk feeding schedule. Solid food at this point is just bonus for her to try new taste and texture of solid foods, but we don’t want her to fill her up on it. Your baby still gets most of her nutrition from milk at this age. After milk, feed her with a soft-tipped plastic spoon, with a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon.
Start with 1 feeding of solids per day, for the first 2 months. Mix cereal or smashed fruit with formula or breast milk to make a semi-liquid. It should be quite runny. Once she gets used to the new diet, you can gradually thicken the consistency by adding less milk. As the amount your baby eats increases, add another feeding.
How to make baby puree at home?
Gadgets: There are plenty of baby food maker out there that steams and blends all in one. However, my kitchen space is minimal. I just use a peeler, small saucepan with lid (if the food requires cooking) and an Immersion Hand Blender to do all the work.
Buy fresh and whole: Fruits and vegetables lose its nutrients once it is cut or processed. Bright colours = freshness. So choose fresh produce with bright colours, without any blemishes on the skin. I have to admit that I’ve bought cut papaya and watermelon for Lauren occasionally. This is because I don’t want to eat the leftover of a whole papaya or watermelon afterwards!
Wash thoroughly and limit pesticide: Give the fruits and vegetables a good wash using clean water or try using 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water to soak the produce before hand. Peel the skin off apples and pears before cooking would help too. Other ‘clean’ produce best for baby food are sweet potatoes, green peas, carrots and avocado.
Cook it: Boil sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, pears and peas with just enough water to cover the vegetables, until soft. Mash, strain and add milk to it. You can also steam them in a steamer. Cut them into small cubes to reduce cooking time.
Soft fruits like banana, papaya and avocado require no cooking. Simply mash them with a fork, strain to remove excess fibre, add milk to it, and you are good to go.
For more baby puree recipes , I’ve compiled a list here.
Store it: I would store cooked puree for up to 2 days in the fridge. Half eaten food is thrown out immediately. If you are cooking a large batch, freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag a for up to a month. Remember to label and note down the date so you won’t get confused. Pregnancy brain still lingers after childbirth.