4-6 months of age
Foods other than breast milk or formula are usually referred to as complementary foods.
For babies aged 7-24 months, breast milk is still an important source of nutrition, but breastfeeding alone cannot fully meet your baby's energy and nutrient needs, so other nutritious foods must be introduced.
The process of adding complementary foods will help your baby to develop chewing and swallowing skills, as well as facilitate the eruption of milk teeth.
It is also an important process in developing good eating habits and learning to eat on their own.
When should I add complementary foods to my baby?
The window of opportunity to add complementary foods is from 4-6 months of age.
The most suitable time to start complementary feeding is between 4 and 6 months of age.
At this time, breast milk alone cannot meet your baby's growing needs for energy, protein, iron and zinc.
Your baby's gastrointestinal tract is relatively well developed and can digest a wide range of foods other than breast milk, and is more receptive to different tastes and textures of food.
- Adding complementary foods too early (before 4 months of age) can increase the risk of allergic diseases in babies. Your baby's digestive system is not yet mature, which can lead to indigestion.
- Adding complementary foods too late (after 6 months of age) may affect growth and development and increase the risk of iron deficiency anaemia; it may also cause delayed development of oral motor functions; poor acceptance of solid foods and even increase the risk of allergies.
Is your baby ready?
The age of the month is not the only criterion for adding complementary foods to your baby's diet, but also depends on each baby's own development.
There are 3 main signs.
● Loss of the upturned tongue reflex
The upturned tongue reflex means that your baby uses his tongue to push out whatever is put in his mouth. If the tongue reflex does not disappear, it can be difficult to get food into the baby's mouth.
The tongue reflex usually disappears by 4-5 months of age.
● Can maintain sitting position and stable head control
Your baby needs to be able to sit firmly in a supported position (with elbows outstretched to support the body when lying prone) and have good control of the head before adding complementary foods.
Otherwise, swallowing may be difficult and there may be a risk of choking or even suffocation.
● Interest in food
Babies show interest in food when they see their parents eating, opening their mouths, leaning forward and clicking their lips are all signs of interest.
Three principles for adding complementary foods
● From one to many
When starting to add complementary foods, add only one new ingredient at a time, observe for 2-3 days and keep a record.
When your baby has fully adapted to one ingredient, add another.
If your baby develops a rash, diarrhoea or vomiting when a new ingredient is added, it may be due to an allergy to that ingredient. You can wait for the symptoms to disappear and try again.
If the same symptoms still occur, avoid the food for a while and try again after 1 to 3 months.
● Start with less and work up to more
You can start by adding complementary foods once a day at the beginning and gradually increase to 2-3 times.
The amount of food per meal can also be increased gradually from less to more. For example, start with 1/2 spoonful of rice flour and vegetable puree and gradually increase to 2-3 spoonfuls.
● From fine to coarse, from thin to thick
The complementary food you add needs to be appropriate for your baby's chewing and swallowing ability.
It should start out as a fine paste and gradually move to semi-solid foods with granules and small pieces.
In addition, the transition should be gradual and consistent and not jumpy.
Under the above general direction, it can be further subdivided according to the baby's acceptance, such as puree with small particles, coarse particles, paste, minced, small pieces, chunks, large pieces, etc.
What to eat for 6-month-old babies?
● Iron-rich purees
After 4-6 months of age, your baby's body reserves of iron gradually decrease and need to be replenished from complementary foods as soon as possible.
Red meat puree and iron-fortified rice flour are rich in iron and are good for babies at the beginning of complementary feeding.
● 6 months complementary food intake
Frequency of complementary feeding: 1-2 times
Amount of milk: 600-800ml
Cereals and potatoes: 1-2 scoops of prepared rice flour or mashed potatoes
Meat and vegetables: 1/2-1 scoop Meat, poultry and fish puree
Vegetables: 1-2 spoons of cooked vegetable puree
Fruit: 1-2 spoons of pureed fruit
Egg yolks: 1/4-1/2 piece
No oil, no salt
What to do with common ingredients?
● Plant-based foods
- Roots: Choose potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, etc. Wash and peel them, cut into small pieces and boil or steam them and make a puree in a grinding bowl or blender (add water if appropriate).
- Leafy vegetable puree: Choose leafy greens such as spinach and bok choy, take the young leaves, boil the water and boil the leaves in the water, then puree with a grinding bowl or a grinder.
- Fruit puree: Choose fruits such as bananas and apples, peel and core them, mash into a puree or scrape directly from a stainless steel spoon.
● Animal foods
- Meat puree: Choose lean pork, lean beef, etc., remove the sinew, wash and chop the pieces, or use a food grinder to crush the meat into minced meat, add the right amount of water and steam.
- Liver puree: choose pig liver, chicken liver, etc., wash, cut open and scrape out the puree with a knife on the cut side. Alternatively, remove the sinewy chicken and pig livers, etc., steam or boil them and chop them into a puree.
- Fish puree: Wash, steam or boil the fish, take the flesh part and press it into a puree with a spoon.
- Shrimp puree: chop or crush shrimps into a shrimp puree, steam or boil.
Feeding principles for 7-9 months old
● Continue breastfeeding and ensure milk supply
After the addition of complementary foods, breastfeeding should be continued to ensure a daily milk supply.
If breast milk is not enough, you should choose a suitable infant formula at this time.
● Be patient and experiment with a wide variety of foods
Build on the foundation of the first complementary foods and gradually add a variety of ingredients.
Encouraging infants to try a variety of different flavours and textures of cereals and potatoes, vegetables and fruits will help to increase their intake of vegetables and fruits during childhood and adulthood.
As your baby's chewing ability improves, the choice of staple foods can be rich and varied.
Also pay attention to the energy density and protein content of foods, ensuring iron-rich foods and dark vegetables; foods that are too thin and thin are not suitable for babies.
- In addition to iron-fortified rice flour and porridge, broken pasta, spaghetti and small cakes can also provide carbohydrate-rich ones.
- Animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs and soya foods, are rich in high quality protein.
- Pork, beef, lamb and other red meat purees, liver purees and animal blood products are rich in iron and are easily absorbed.
- Fish, shrimps and shellfish, are also sources of high quality protein, zinc and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Vegetables and fruits are rich in many vitamins and minerals.
- Dark green, red, orange and fuchsia vegetables are all dark-coloured vegetables and are rich in nutrients.
● Increase the number and quantity of meals
The addition of complementary foods is a gradual process from less to more. The intake of complementary foods gradually increases for most babies at 7 months of age, and complementary foods can become a meal on their own, with 2 to 3 complementary meals per day, which can be transitioned to a pattern of spacing complementary foods and breastfeeding. (Specific meal sizes and meal schedules follow haha~)
● Conformity feeding, sensing hunger and satiety signals
During feeding, parents should sense their baby's hunger and satiety signals in time.
When your baby shows hunger, prepare safe and nutritious food for him/her in time and let him/her decide how much to eat; if he/she closes his/her mouth tightly, turns his/her head or spits out food, mum or dad should not force-feed again.
Respect your child's wishes fully, be patient and encouraging, and never force-feed.
● Introduce finger foods to foster independent eating
At this time, your baby's hand-eye coordination improves and his interest in eating on his own increases.
You can offer your baby some finger foods to increase his or her interest and motivation to eat and encourage him or her to hold and eat on his or her own.
You can start with foods that are soft, squeezable and easy to swallow, such as banana chunks, boiled potatoes and cooked dragon fruit chunks.
Slowly add ingredients such as vegetables and minced meat.
Also, although your baby's ability to eat increases at this stage, a combination of independent eating and feeding is needed to meet energy and nutrient requirements.
What does your baby eat between 7-9 months?
Granular pureed, crumbly, soft finger foods
Complementary food intake for 7-9 months:
Frequency of complementary feeding: 2-3 times
Amount of milk: 600-800ml
Cereals and potatoes: 3-5 spoonfuls Porridge, crumbled noodles, small cooked potato pieces
Meat: 3-5 spoons minced meat, poultry and fish, minced meat
Vegetables: 3-5 tbsp cooked minced vegetables
Fruit: 3-5 spoons of diced fruit
Egg yolk: 1/2-1 egg, giving priority to the yolk, try the whites
Cooking oil: not enough for meat dishes, add 5-10g (1/2-1 tbsp) depending on cooking style
No salt added
Feeding principles for 10-12 months of age
● Continue to transition food traits and increase food variety
Most 10 month olds have more milk teeth by this stage and are able to handle more coarse processed foods.
The texture of complementary foods should be further coarsened and thickened, transitioning from crumbly foods to crumbly, small pieces of food, and providing some opportunities for your baby to grab and eat at each meal.
However, avoid offering foods that are not easily broken or are too slippery, such as large fish balls, jelly, popcorn and hard candy, to avoid choking or accidents.
● Pay attention to a balanced diet and ensure intake of staple foods
Try to ensure that each meal has 1 staple food, 1-2 vegetables and 1 meat or fish, shrimp or poultry.
However, it is still important to note that the main food for babies within 1 year of age is still milk. When adding complementary foods, make sure to ensure that the amount of milk is at least 600ml per day.
Also to ensure your baby's energy intake, it is important to have a certain energy density and eat a certain amount of staple foods at each meal.
● Increase the number of complementary meals and adjust meal times
At this stage, it is advisable to stop breastfeeding at night, increase the number of complementary meals from 2 to 3 and arrange a snack in the afternoon.
At the same time, you can adjust the timing of the three meals to roughly the same time as your family so that you can eat with them after 1 year of age.
What do you eat between 10 and 12 months of age?
● Food properties:
Granular, crumbly, small pieces of food
Complementary food intake for 10-12 months
Frequency of complementary feeding: 2-3 times with 1 additional meal
Amount of milk: approx. 600 ml
Cereals and potatoes: 1/2-3/4 bowl Thick porridge, crumbled pasta, spaghetti, cooked small potato cubes
Meat: 5 spoons Poultry, diced fish, small pieces of meat
Vegetables: 1/2 bowl cooked chopped vegetables
Fruit: 1/2 bowl small pieces of fruit
Egg yolks: 1/2-1, giving priority to the yolks, try the whites
Cooking oil: insufficient intake of meat dishes, add 5-10g (1/2-1 tbsp) depending on cooking style
No salt added