Category Archives: food

Month 5 Week 1: Solid success

We introduced B to solids today as he’s been able to hold his head upright steadily, developed a strong grip, shown more interest in adult food/eating, control over his drooling, and seems to have lost his appetite for an all-milk diet.  Since he checked in at 8.3 kg (18 lbs) last week, we also feel quite comfortable weaning him now.  For starters, I got him wholegrain rice cereal, mixed 1 spoon of cereal with 3 spoons of expressed milk and viola.  He took to it quite well and from what I can tell, the organic cereal tastes like Nestum which I grew up eating :). I plan to keep serving cereal alternating with milk, followed by simple fruit and veggie purees over the next few weeks.  It’s fairly easy to get started –  a steamer and blender for preparation, small airtight food containers for storage, and baby food planning and cooking library books for inspiration.

General rule of thumb below, though some moms I know do baby-led feeding and are more “liberal.”

(4)-6 months:

  • Offer the same solids 3 days in a row to ensure no allergies
  • Start by alternating milk and pureed solids for lunch/late morning feed (after he’s satisfied his overnight hunger), and then do the same at dinner and finally breakfast/early morning feed
  • Maintain 800-1000 ml total daily milk intake (=4 to 5 bottles of 6-7 oz/180-200 ml milk).  Between 5-6 months, no milk should be needed after 7pm (B did this at 4.5 months)
  • Once he takes to solids, also offer some water to help with digestion and hydration, esp. during the mid-day
  • First foods – give them a runny consistency (add milk or reserve cooking liquid to dilute) as he’ll need to overcome his protective reflex that prevents him from swallowing thick solids
    • Cereal – rice, maize
    • Veg – carrots, sweet potato, yam, butternut squash, pumpkin, potato, zucchini, sweet peas
    • Fruits (non-citrus) – avocado, banana, cooked apples, pears
    • AVOID – gluten (wheat, bread, rye, barley, oats), eggs, citrus, nuts, dairy/cheese, fish/shellfish, coffee, honey, excessive spice, sugar and salt
  • Tips and tricks:
      • Offer initial, small tastes (2-3 spoons) with a plastic, shallow weaning spoon – let him suck it off the end first, and gradually, he will learn to swallow without sucking
      • Don’t worry if he rejects, it may take up to 10 to 15 tries so try and try again 
      • Crying in between spoonfuls usually b/c they are frustrated that feeding isn’t continuous
      • Sit him on your lap to reduce stress
      • Don’t mix solids with milk in a bottle — this amounts to force feeding and may cause choking, faster weaning than needed, and doesn’t enable baby to communicate 

    7-9 months:

    • Introduce single portion breakfast with milk, and lunch and dinner meals accompanied by cooled boiled water and diluted juice
    • Total daily milk intake (inclusive of milk used for food prep) ~600-800 ml (=3 to 4 bottles of 7-8 oz/200-220 ml milk) with milk primarily given after meals now in addition to the mid-afternoon and late night/early morning feeds, as needed
    • New foods – give a variety / coarser texture (minced/mashed vs blended) with iron and protein:
      • Meat (usually mix with blander foods e.g. rice, potatoes, and offer at least once a week) – fish, poultry, lean meat e.g. lamb, turkey 
      • Veg – artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, watercress, spinach, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, leek, cooked lettuce, parsnip, rutabaga, squash, carob, green beans
      • Pulses – lentils, split peas, chickpeas, haricot, flageolet and kidney beans
      • Fruit – cooked apricot, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, peach, nectarine, plum, prune + citrus (mixed with other fruits to counteract sugar and acidic content) + dried fruit (mixed)
      • Finger foods – soft peeled fruit, steamed veg sticks/raw soft veg, bread, rice cakes + nut butters
      • Wheat (pasta, cereal), full fat dairy (natural yogurt, well cooked egg, cheese, soy)
      • Olive oil, herbs and spices can also be added now, starting mild, one at a time, as well as finely ground nuts, seeds – amaranth, quinoa, tapioca root, poppy, pumpkin, sunflower
      • AVOID – cow’s milk (wait till 2 years old), shellfish, soft boiled eggs,  coffee, honey, excessive spice, sugar and salt
    • Tips and tricks:
      • No need to sterilise everything all the time now
      • Offer finger foods and water (in a beaker/sippy cup) in between meals, as needed. Get them involved in feeding themselves to encourage independence and coordination.  Finger foods also help relieve teething pressure 
      • Talk to your baby while feeding
      • If full, baby will close his mouth or turn head away

    10-12 months:

    • Establish routine with healthy snacks – 3 square meals a day with the family, eat together but beware his emerging personality (self-feeding, fussiness, food throwing, refusal to eat alone)
    • Total daily milk intake falls to 500-600 ml. Reduce late night milk feed and supplement the mid-afternoon milk with finger food snacks and water
    • Foods:  Try new things to stimulate appetite and senses, finely chopped and minced. Basically, almost all the food you eat yourself within reason:
      • Fiber – peas, fruit, veggie juice. Avoid bulky fiber in brown rice or whole wheat
      • Meat – at least one portion per day, wider range of fish – mackerel, tuna 
      • Herbs and spices – parsely, oregano, basil, coriander, onions, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla pod
    • Tips and tricks:
      • Drop milk intake to allow room for solids.  Keep up water and juice to avoid constipation 
      • Offer drinks in cups rather than bottles to help development of baby teeth as cup drinking is much faster – minimising contact with teeth
      • Nutritional balance towards strength vs immune boosting – starch, protein, sugar, unsaturated fat for calories and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
      • Lots of energy rich food with fiber, esp. for breakfast (cereal, fruits) – his biggest meal 
      • Eat small portions but varied types of food, as often as needed
      • Enjoy the possibilities!

    Month 4 Week 1: Each in his own time

    B’s turning into such a delightful little 4 month baby boy!

    Mommy lessons:

    1. Milestone comparison syndrome:  Hubby and I have guiltily caught ourselves saying “he’s 90% on this but only 75% on that” or “he *still* can’t roll over on his own,” etc…. We have to remind ourselves that every child develops at his own pace.
    2. Food fussiness:  After weeks of relatively easy and fast bottle feeding, B started getting really distracted — taking 30+ mins to drink 180 ml (6.5 oz) as he tugged on his bib/my hair/anything within grasp, skipping a feed and/or not finishing his bottle at times.  We upgraded his bottle teat to level 2/M for faster flow and also positioned him to face outwards, sitting upright instead with something to hold in his hands.  That has improved things though he occasionally drinks only 4 instead of 5 times a day — even going 10 to 12 hours between bottles!  That said, as his growth has so far been OK, the doc suggested not to worry and wait till month 5 before introducing solids.  I am however starting him on a trainer cup using this all-in-one grow-with-your-baby set.
    3. Socialising with baby:  B is becoming more responsive and selective with whom he interacts. He grins, squeals, laughs, babbles away when he’s excited and also has a really loud high pitched cry now when he wants attention! (B has no idea what using your inside voice is … yet). I’ve started to take him to some playdates with fellow newborn mom-friends and signed up for a few infant Meet Up events.  Am also thinking of teaching him baby sign language to help our communication.  Any recs?

    Baby milestones:

    1. Tummy time everywhere:  He’s been actively doing at least 30 mins now on the playmat, sofa, bed, mama’s tummy, etc.  and seems to (finally) enjoy this more and for longer periods of time.  Once in a while he graces us with a wide grin when he discovers or accomplishes something like moving his hands forward, lifting his head up 90 degrees, making a full push up, etc.
    2. It’s never too early to read:  Storytime has become a regular part of B’s day and bedtime ritual now.  My parents introduced me to the wonderful world of books very early on and I wanted to do the same for him with series like Go Baby, Baby Touch and Amazing Baby, as well as some great fabric,  musical and classic baby books from friends.  It’s a plus that libraries here are well stocked, in generally good condition and well used.  Can you believe B wasn’t even the youngest member when we signed him up at 7 weeks old?  Kiasu Singapore!
    3. His “I” is emerging – just flow with it: B’s developing strong preferences and doesn’t hesitate to show it.  E.g. When I turn on his mobile and he gets bored, he now uses his fists or feet to change the buttons.  He only likes the activity gym/playmat on our bed; put him down on it elsewhere and he’ll just stare at it, unmoving!  He doesn’t like to be rocked anymore to nap during the daytime and will squirm and squeal loudly; instead put him in his bouncer, rock/sing/shush gently for a few minutes and viola!

    Week 21: Maternity mocktails

    All work, no play and no alcohol makes for one helluva dry week! Argh. When the dust settles somewhat or 3rd trimester kicks in, I should get my momma friends over for a sparty (spa party) with some classic maternity mocktails and milkshakes!

    NYC Maternitini
    Mix it up: In a chilled cocktail shaker, mix 1 1/2 ounces of raspberry sorbet, 4 ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice, and a squeeze of lime. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a lollipop or rock candy.

    Bouncing Baby Bellini
    Mix it up: Stir 2 ounces of chilled peach nectar with 2 ounces of nonalcoholic sparkling wine (or sparkling apple cider). Pour into a champagne glass and add a splash of grenadine. Garnish with sliced peaches.

    Pregnan-Sea Breeze
    Mix it up: In a shaker with ice, combine 3 ounces of cranberry juice with 3 ounces of pineapple juice. Strain the mixture into a tall glass. Finish with a splash of 7 UP and garnish with a sprig of mint and strawberries.

    Raspberry “Hot Flash” Cooler
    Mix it up: Wet the rim of a martini glass with a lime wedge, then dip the glass in sugar. In a shaker with ice, mix 1/2 ounce of crushed fresh or defrosted raspberries with 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon or lime juice, plus 1 ounce of pineapple juice. Shake the mixture, then pour into the glass, straining out the ice and crushed raspberries. Top with a splash of sparkling water and add a spear of raspberries.

    Next Generation Ginger Soda
    Mix it up: Peel a ginger root and cut into pieces. Marinate them in an 8-ounce glass of soda water for a few hours. Strain 1/2 to 3/4 of the ginger mixture into a tall glass with ice. Top it off with a splash of Sprite (or caffeine-free Coke, for color). Garnish with a slice of starfruit and a lime.

    Mama Mango Margarita
    Mix it up: First, make a simple syrup by heating 2 cups of sugar with 3 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Chill. Fill a blender or food processor with ice. Add a cup of fresh or defrosted mango. Add 3 ounces of the syrup and 1 1/2 ounces of freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice. After blending, add more syrup to sweeten, if necessary.

    Week 17B: Enlightened confinement

    Mom sent me a good article about new confinement practices among the Chinese.  Pheew. Modern moms are enlightened! Excerpts below.

    In medical terms, the confinement period is known as puerperium, the period of adjustment after childbirth during which the mother’s reproductive system returns to its normal pre-pregnancy state. It generally lasts six to eight weeks and ends with the first ovulation and the return of normal menstruation.

    With increased information and awareness about health, nutrition and breastfeeding, current confinement trends have certainly become more progressive. For one, a mum who breastfeeds knows the need to consume a variety of foods that provides adequate nutrients, and avoid or limit substances like alcohol and caffeine.  Modern lifestyles and working mothers also mean convenience is key in shaping trends.  Modern confinement practices emphasise rest, a balanced, nutritious diet and good hygiene.

    Many traditional habits are no longer blindly followed [as] mothers are more educated and will ask the logic behind each practice. For instance, 20 years ago, mothers were encouraged to eat one whole chicken a day to regain their strength.  No fish or vegetables were allowed, [curtains were] drawn at all times to avoid any draft, mothers were prevented from watching TV or reading lest their eyesight weakens later in life.  A woman should also refrain from taking a bath for the first 30 days after childbirth.

    Women these days are not so old-fashioned and can accept new trends.  Now, after 12 to 14 days when lochia discharge stops, mothers can [take a shower/bath/hair wash]. In addition, mothers need to be relaxed, comfortable, consume enough nutrients to breastfeed successfully and also prevent post-natal depression. [Given] our weather, air-conditioning and fans are necessary as long as the air flow is not aimed directly at the mother. Mothers are also watching TV, surfing the Internet and reading during confinement.

    In the first two weeks of confinement, a mother should take foods that are mildly nutritive while in the last two weeks, stronger herbs to revitalise the body. [Avoid vegetables] that are ‘cooling’ or cause ‘wind’ in the stomach [and go for greens] like kai lan (kale) and French beans … fried with ginger and sometimes minced meat. However, the basic practice of consuming ginger, sesame oil, red dates drink and herbal soups remains.

    Week 17a: I’ll tolerate confinement food, but no nannies please

    Hubby’s been complaining of the heat so this week’s soup is especially for him:  绿豆汤 – green bean / mung bean soup, served chilled.  Since our babymoon, I’ve also decided to swim more (when it stops raining, that is) now that our condo pool is finally “fixed.” I do feel quite self-conscious about my body lately though – definitely look forward to start my prenatal pilates class on Monday!

    Meanwhile, received a confirmation email for our childbirth education classes in August (starting week 24 onwards).  The Parentcraft Centre also included details on confinement nannies trained by the hospital plus home delivery/catering options.  I know nannies have been a life-saver for many, but I still would prefer to be hands-on and besides, our apartment doesn’t have room for more than the three of us.

    Gotta admit the sample confinement menu (see below) looks terribly UN-appetizing even if it’s 100% nutritious for recovering moms.  Maybe I can convince folks to join me on those liver/kidney/ginger days – misery loves company, right? =8

    Week 15b: Down under

    Back from Sydney – brrr, it’s colder than I thought! We braved the rain to walk down Market St, eat at Darling Harbour and catch a ferry ride to Manly. I’m also starting to show but not enough to benefit from “royal treatment” 😦 Some friends now guess I’m pregnant, including a few colleagues, most ang mos still find me Asian thin and my flight co-passengers were clueless when I couldn’t lift up my carry-on suitcase. Hmmph. That said, thank you, SIA Singapore Girls.

    Look forward to our anniversary retreat next weekend. Also really miss the parents, thought of swinging by our Penang home to visit for a few days but our schedule seems too tight. Counting down the days when they return in a few months.

    Back to my weekly home soup routine. Now cooking: 红豆汤 – Red bean soup.

    Week 15A: A visit from the parents

    This week just flew by. Work, dinner with parents, rinse, repeat. Turned down an exec ed director training course in China/USA because the dates are too late in the pregnancy. No luck taking leave this week with all the developments at work though I managed to bring parents to a mid-week evening show of Shakespeare in the Park – Macbeth. Kudos to the Singapore Repertory Theatre cast … and dad for staying awake the whole time! 😉 Flying out to Australia next week. Hope all goes well!

    Soup of the week: 花生汤 – Skinless peanut soup. Family favourite though hubby can’t drink it without 油条 – crispy fried (and oily) “breadsticks”!

    Week 14: Pampering the parents

    Brought the whole family here to see the Lion King musical last night — the kids running around made me rather wistful, on top of mom’s last week coming up. Also still recovering from a cold which I caught from work, hope to kick it completely over the weekend. On a lighter note, trying to cook/eat at least one homemade soup every week of the pregnancy through confinement.

    Up next:
    黑豆汤 Black bean pork ribs soup with red dates. Excellent source of protein+fiber+iron+antioxidants. Mom insists I MUST add soya sauce, not just salt — to do grandma’s recipe justice. I think it’s the aging taste buds. Heh.

    Week 6: First ultrasound

    First ultrasound confirms a tiny gestational sac in the right place. Dream about giving birth to aliens. Note to self: No more scifi before bedtime.

    Start folic acid supplements and mommy diet adjustments (aka no alcohol, no sushi or raw meat, no soft cheese. More calcium, iron and folate rich foods, Vitamins A and E, potassium):

    Vegetables 
    Carrots
    Sweet potatoes
    Pumpkin
    Spinach
    Cooked greens (such as kale, collards, turnip greens, and beet greens)
    Winter squash
    Tomatoes and tomato sauces
    Red sweet pepper

    Grains
    Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
    Fortified cooked cereals
    Wheat germ
    Red, unrefined rice

    Protein
    Cooked dry beans and peas (such as pinto beans, soybeans, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas)
    Nuts and seeds (such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter)
    Lean beef, lamb, and pork
    Shrimp, clams, oysters, and crab
    Halibut, cod, rainbow trout, herring, sardines, rockfish, and yellowfin tuna

    Fruit 
    Cantaloupe
    Honeydew melon
    Mangoes
    Prunes or prune juice
    Bananas
    Apricots
    Oranges and orange juice
    Red or pink grapefruit
    Avocado
    Kiwis
    Guavas