When to start solid?
World Health Organization(WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) recommended that mother should exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months and only introduce solid after 6 months old of age. However there are other voices where some parents and health professionals recommended introducing solids to young babies as early as 3 to 4 months of age. Of course there is also discussion on delaying solid up to 8 months old of age(read here). After I felt that I am overloaded with information, I stopped and decided that I should start solid no early than 6 months of age.
My reason are as below:
1. Most of the babies below 6 months old have not started to crawl actively. Breastmilk or formula milk is not only sufficient in term of calories, but also provide enough nutritions.
2. Young babies have an immature digestive system which makes it difficult for their bowels to cope with solid. Without solid, babies have less chance of getting stomach discomfort. Since babies are only being fed with milk, it is also easier to avoid babies from unneccessary illness(food poisoning/virus or bacteria infection) and contaminations(heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides).
3. After introducing solid, milk intake might reduce(though it might not). I prefer him to take more breastmilk which I think is important for his age.
4. Lower risk of choking when solid is introduced later
What to give?
Many informative websites would give you guidelines on what food to serve at certain age. I always refer to Wholesome Baby Food(view website), Baby Food 101(view website) and mmbang.Can eat or not? 妈妈帮.能不能吃?(view website). The first two websites have most of the common food for American babies, which is definitely a good start. But they do not cover Chinese food and some of the tropical food, so I found the later Chinese website very useful.
I always take slower pace in introducing new food. Most of the time, if it is recommended at 8 months old of age, I will give it at 8.5 months old or 9 months old. There are many food out there, so just pick another food, why do I want to put my baby in risk? I followed 4 day rule and made food record. Even he is bigger now, I still introduce one new food at a time. With this, I can easily know what food is causing stomach discomfort or allergy.
Here is my boy new food record.
6 months old
Orange Sweet Potatoes, French Bean, Pumpkin and Apple
7 months old
Avocado, Green Pea, Carrot and Banana
8 months old
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Taiwan Pear, White Potatoes, Spinach, Zhuccini, Butternut squash and Millet
9 months old
Red Bell Pepper, Quinoa, Amaranth Leaves, Purple Sweet Potatoes, Beet Root and Kiwi gold
10 months old
Papaya, Baby Corn, Blueberry, Egg Yolk, Cabbage, Chinese Red Date, Onion and Purple Cabbage
11 months old
Celery, Pork, Brinjal, Black Fungus**, Aplhabet Pasta and Wild Salmon
Note: Farmed Salmon might have carotenes in their feed.
12 months old
Sweet Potato Leaf, Baby Oat, Cod Fish, Chicken, Shitake Mushroom, Strawberry, Mango, Yogurt, Raisin, Winter Melon**, Wholemeal bread, Goji Berries, Coconut Drink, Mee Suah, Dried Cranberries and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
** Only given once and in small quantity
What to start with?
At 6 months old, I started with nutrient dense food(vegetables and fruits) and not energy dense food(grains), and in puree form. At 8 months old, I introduced millet cereal and at 9 months old I introduced quinoa cereal. However, nutrient dense food still the main food, I just added spoons of homemade millet cereal or homemade quinoa cereal or a mixture of both into the puree. At the beginning, it is like 1tbsp uncooked grain powder for 2 meals. Only when he is close to 10 months old, I started to cook millet/quinoa congee(and later porridge) with chopped vegetables for him. After 11mo, I started to introduce meat and fish to his diet. Besides that, I also cook noodles(normally Aphabet pasta or Mee Suah) for him during weekends.
How to make cereal?
Preheat oven 100'c. Wash and drain the grain. Spread out in tray and put in oven. Off the oven heat. Let the tray stay inside for 30min. On oven 100'c for 5 min, off it. Let the tray stay inside for another 30min. Check if the grain is dry. If not, repeat the drying process in oven. Then, blend into powder. Mix some grain powder with hot water in a small plate or small bowl. Stir well. Steam for 10mins and cereal is ready. Keep the remaining grain powder in airtight container in the refrigerator.
How many meals to give?
At 6 months old, my boy has vegetables and fruit puree for lunch only. At 8 months old, dinner is added and I started to add some cereal to his puree. After 11 months old, my boy has 3 meals a day. Whenever I introduced a new meal, I do not start with a full serving. I give time to the little stomach to adjust. For my case, my boy took about 1 week from few spoons to one full serving each time.
Organic or Not
I opted for organic because I think that the contaminations in the non organic food is too much for babies. Even before my boy, we are eating organic food whenever possible. I would say about 70%. Now I source my food more carefully. So not only my boy is eating very healthy and clean food, we are eating healthier too.
Proccessed food and Snack
I do not give any proccessed food to my son until 1 year old. And that includes cheese, yogurt, bean curd, fruit juice, bread, biscuit and cake. Generally proccessed food has lost its nutrients. The other concern is I do not have faith in the manufacturers. Even if it is labelled organic, I still find some listed ingredients to be fishy.
I always believe that our bodies can absorb better from natural food than supplements which most of it has synthetic nutrients. Therefore, I do not give him any supplements so far.
I strongly believe that a good start at solid will help to build a strong foundation for his health. The inner lumen of their intestines are not fully developed for the first 5-6 years. Improper solid food given to babies will stop the development of the intestinal lumens and this has health impacts on babies. Think of it this way. Your babies have many years ahead to enjoy good food. Why rush? So do not rush and do not compare.