Understandably, when your baby reaches the sixth-month marker, you’re excited to feed her solid foods. After all, she may have shown interest in food as early as four months, but the Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months, after which complementary feeding may start.
While you’re too eager to film her “mukhasim” face after every spoonful of new tastes, heed some expert guidelines about infant feeding before you get carried away. Aurora Abella, RND, BSN, Chief Dietitian at the General Miguel Malvar Medical Foundation in Quezon City, and Eileen Salud Guevara, Nutritionist-Dietitian 2 at the Marikina City Health Office, provide valuable tips.
• Remember, the key word is complementary feeding: presently, you’re only introducing the idea of eating solids, and her main nourishment still comes from breast milk or formula. A tablespoon or two a day may be enough. • Home-prepared food is still best. • Let baby get used to the taste and texture of one kind of food for three to five days before introducing another. This will also aid you in spotting foods she may be allergic to. • Don’t add salt (which will harm her kidneys), sugar or any flavoring: what’s bland for you is already quite flavorful for her.
1. Lugaw or rice-based cereals—full of carbohydrates for baby’s increasing energy needs, this is also the most easily digested and least allergenic, according to Abella. Mash or blend the lugaw to a pureed consistency, neither too thick nor too thin.
2. Mashed camote or potato—also rich in carbohydrates, these likewise contain fiber, vitamin C, potassium and some calcium. Peel carefully, dice, remove stringy parts, then boil. Mash until there are no lumps then add a little water or breast milk or formula to thin. 3. Banana—high in potassium and vitamin B6, it is also a good source of fiber, vitamin C and magnesium. Its natural sugars give energy to your tot, are easily digested, and taste good to babies. Mash thoroughly. 4. Squash (kalabasa)—loaded with vitamin A and antioxidants, it also has calcium, iron, and phosphorous. According to Guevara, a baby’s natural store of vitamin A at birth (just like iron) slowly gets depleted from six months, and thus needs to be replenished. Boil and mash before serving. 5. Papaya—contains vitamin C, the B vitamins, anti-oxidants, folate, vitamin A, fiber and the enzyme papain which is valuable in aiding digestion.
Other possibilities include apples, sayote, and avocado. Don’t worry if this repertoire seems limited—she won’t mind, and in two months, her maturing digestive system and perhaps early teething will make her ready for a greater variety of solid foods.