Amid juggling working from home, tending to your baby with very little additional help (since extended family shouldn’t be visiting), it might be overwhelming to try starting your child on solids during this time. We’ve got you covered with a few meal prep hacks so you’ll always have food for your little one on hand.
Ready for Solids?
The World Health Organisation and Singapore Health Promotion Board both recommend to breastfeed exclusively – or supplement with formula – for the first six months. After this, when your baby is able to hold his/her head up and can sit well when in a chair, and reaches out to try your food, these are some indications your baby might be ready for solid food.
Avoid giving your baby honey, as it may contain bacteria spores called Clostridium botulinum, that causes infant botulism, which is rare but potentially fatal. Wait until your child is a little older (more than 1 year old) so that the microorganisms in his/her digestive system can keep the bacteria from growing. Also, refrain from using salt or sugar, but you can add in pinches of herbs or spices to flavour the food.
Ensure the prepared food’s consistency is slightly thicker than milk, and start with one to two spoons. Also, introduce just one new solid food for two to three days to see if there are any allergic reactions. Examples of this include rashes, bloated or gassy tummy or diarrhoea. Some food you can introduce are baby rice cereal with baby formula or expressed breast milk, mashed pasta, porridge, and mashed cooked vegetables. If giving your child meat, do make sure it’s fully cooked. Other good foods include soft, ripe fruits like banana, apple, papaya, pear or avocado, yoghurt or custard.
Baby Led Weaning
Of course, this means a mess to clean up. One way to reduce the mess is to use a bib with a wide and deep pocket to catch errant bits of food. Examples of such bibs are the Stokke® Munch ($35) and Babybjorn Soft Bib ($19.90). Another way is to use items like the Haakaa fresh food feeder and teether ($7.90), where children can try solid foods like fruit, vegetables or even meat. This also doubles up as a teether, where infants can suck and chew on the 100 per cent food grade silicone teether to soothe their gums. Likewise, mums can also feed their babies with the Pigeon Weaning Bottle with Spoon ($5.50) that holds up to 240ml, where the squeezable bottle dispenses the correct amount of food without much mess.
Meal Preparation for Busy Mums
Meal prep in advance
Once you’ve got a good idea of what your baby likes and dislikes, you can meal prep these ingredients beforehand. Note that what your baby likes one day might differ from another – so having a few variants on hand may help. Start by thoroughly washing the fruits and vegetables and then cutting them up into small pieces. Next, steam or boil them until soft, and then use a blender to get the targeted consistency. You can thin it out with breast milk or formula, if necessary – this also helps your baby digest the food better. Once cooled, scoop the vegetables and fruits and portion into ice cube trays. After they’re frozen, you can transfer these ice cubes of food into its individual container, leave it in the tray if it has a cover, or your own food pouch.
For instance, try the Cherub Baby On the Go Baby Food Pouches ($26.90), which are reusable and extremely portable to store, freeze, warm and serve homemade baby food. These award-winning food pouches are BPA-free, leak-proof, self-standing (so it’s easy to pour the food in). It comes pre-sterilised and has a name label and measuring guide. Once meal prep is done, store this in the freezer, and when meal time comes around, simply heat the pouches up in a microwave or bottle warmer. Even better, with the compatible soft spout or spoons ($15.90 each), they can even feed themselves. All they have to do is grasp the pouch and feed on their own. Use it at mealtimes (even at home) to minimise clean up.
Looking for inspiration to widen the range of food your baby tries? Baby Food Kitchen ($34.90) by Valerie Chan features 44 meal ideas and healthy recipes for babies, suitable from four months onwards. These recipes are simple to make, and include local flavours. Examples of these include Baby Bak Chor Mee, and lychee banana carrot muffins. None of these recipes feature sugar, salt or seasoning, and yet are well received by both babies and adults. Aside from recipes, the book also includes complete meal planners, grandma’s secret recipes, as well as common allergens to watch out for. Such allergens might include eggs, tree nuts, milk, wheat, fish and shellfish.
Try flavourful and healthy food pouches
Get a few of these and keep in your refrigerator for a quick snack or meal. For example, the Piccolo Pasta Sauce Tomato & Basil ($4.90) complements the Organic Cooking Stars Baby Pasta 7 months+ ($9.90) to become a nutritious pasta dinner. Otherwise, Piccolo, Little Freddie, and HiPP all have healthy, no sugar added snacks, purees and cereals for your little ones to feast on.
One appliance meals
Easily make your baby’s food with the Béaba Babycook® Neo ($399 to $420), which makes up to 1,250 ml of food in a sleek countertop appliance. For babies four to eight months old, this roughly equates to four meals. This multi-use cooker steam cooks, blends, reheats, defrosts, all in 15 minutes or less. Better still, this one-pot appliance reduces the need for pots, blenders and microwaves, perfect for the busy mama or minimalists.
Ensure your baby is getting the ideal consistency of food appropriate for his/her age, whether it’s a fine or chunkier purée, with the unique pulse-blend feature. Additionally, once the food is cooked, the system turns off automatically, so the food will always be cooked just right. Store additional food in reusable containers like the Beaba Multiportion Silicone containers ($39.90), where each of the six slots has a capacity of 150ml.
Tip: Shop at Motherswork to enjoy free delivery with minimum spend of $30, and 2h delivery at an additional $10. From now till 3 May 2020, tag Motherswork in your Instagram posts of recipes made with Béaba Babycook and stand to win Motherswork vouchers!