When and how should we start giving our precious babies exciting new foods? Today, we will learn about some basics of this topic, such as when to start weaning your baby off breastmilk and introducing them to food, and how to proceed with starting to feed your child baby food.
Q&A About Starting Baby Food
1. When should I start feeding my child baby food?
Weaning can be started around 4 to 6 months of age, when the baby's weight has approximately doubled since birth. You can start giving your child baby food once they can drink more than 100ml of formula at a time, drool a lot, show interest in eating the same foods as the adults around them, and weigh about 7kg or more (more than double the weight they were at birth).
2. Why do you need to start feeding your child baby food?
Weaning food refers to the type of meal that a child eats to adjust to a general diet before moving completely from breast milk/formula to the adult’s general diet. When a child is around 6 months old, it becomes difficult for them to get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or formula alone.
Therefore, it is necessary to supply your child with additional nutrients such as iron through baby food. Also, while eating baby food, your child will learn to use their tongue and mouth, which will prepare them to eat regular food.
3. I’m worried about starting to give my child baby food.
It is natural to be anxious about new changes when raising a child. But you don't have to start off too ambitious just because you're starting to prepare baby food. The basic principle is to equip the child with the right eating habits, rather than giving them the full gourmet experience that adults enjoy on a regular basis.
At regular times, give small, soft foods that your child can digest. It is recommended to start with soft and easy textures such as rice bran. In principle, the first foods that your child starts to eat shouldn’t be seasoned, and we need to introduce new foods one at a time rather than as parts of complete meals because we need to be aware of food allergies. Even if you mix together foods that are good for the body, your child may develop a food allergy and it will be hard to tell which food triggered it.
4. How do the early baby food/mid-term baby food/late baby food/completion stages work?
In the early stages of introducing baby food at about 5-6 months of age, it is enough to feed your baby once a day. It is recommended to feed around 30-80g of baby food a day, giving a single and soft liquid food such as pureed unleavened rice.
In the mid-term stage of introducing baby food, when your child is about 7-8 months old, you can feed them twice a day with a snack once a day. When you’re feeding them about 70-100g of baby food per serving, you can change to a more porridge-like texture than the initial liquid texture of baby food in the early stage. It is recommended to cut any food into 0.3cm pieces and cook it.
In the late stage of introducing baby food at around 9-11 months, you can give your child baby food three times a day and about one snack a day. They can eat 100-150g of baby food per serving, but as in the earlier stages, breast milk and formula are still their staple food. Remember, weaning is the process of introducing food while still giving your child breast or formula milk. They can eat pieces of about 0.5cm in size of the various ingredients.
After you have finished weaning your child off milk and introducing them to food, the completion period comes. Eating an almost complete diet of baby food starts around 12 to 15 months of age. This is a transition stage in which breast milk or formula is now a snack, and baby food becomes a staple food. Your child can eat 120-180g of baby food 3 times a day, and take a total of 2 morning or afternoon snacks. They can now eat things that are quite large, but still be aware that some foods such as whole grapes present a choking hazard.
5. My child wants only breast milk, not baby food. What should I do?
Only breastfeeding when your child is several months old can lead to iron deficiency in your child. Therefore, it is necessary to gradually reduce the rate of lactation and increase the rate of baby food. If you breastfeed too much, your baby may feel full and refuse to eat when you try and offer them baby food. Less breastfeeding should be a priority, so your baby can eat well.
6. Points to note when starting baby food.
When you start introducing your child to baby food, it is good to think of the child’s eating habits as well as what they’re eating. If your child doesn't eat well because they’re distracted by the TV or they start playing with toys when you’re trying to feed them, it may become more difficult to feed your child in the long run, as they won’t develop good eating habits.
From 8 to 9 months of age, allow your child to hold the spoon and eat, and help your child focus on the food as much as possible. you should also set up a baby chair, special cutlery and plates, etc. so that they can eat at the same place all the time, developing a habit of eating well and enjoying of trying out new foods and experiences.
Author: Deok Hyun Jang
- Former Nursery School Director
- A veteran teacher who has been running a daycare center for 20 years.