At four to six months, your baby is ready to start weaning, but what happens to her milk feeds after starting solids? Two experts answer your questions about this important transition.
My baby is already eating solid foods. Is milk still important?
Dr Eugene Han: Don’t cut milk from your baby’s diet. It’s an excellent source of protein, calcium, zinc and vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin) and B12. Even if she starts taking solids at four to six months, milk will still be the main source of energy and nutrients for her first year of life.
Dr Yvonne Ng: If possible, you should continue to breastfeed, as your milk provides up to half of your baby’s energy needs from six to 12 months, and up to a third of her energy requirements in her second year.
To counter infections and illnesses, breast milk also has protective ingredients that are not present in commercial milk products. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for up to two years or more.
How much milk does my baby need now?
Dr Han: Breastfed babies between four and seven months old still need at least three feeds daily, while formula-fed little ones need at least 600ml to 800ml.
You can start off with solid foods once or twice a day. By the time she’s eight months old, she should be having three meals daily.
A typical day’s diet may include breast or formula milk, iron-fortified cereal, fruits, vegetables and small amounts of meat or tofu.
The weaning process varies with each baby. Let your cutie set the pace; don’t force-feed her. And continue to offer a wide range of nutritious foods.
(Also read: Are you overfeeding Baby?)
Should I offer milk feeds before or after my baby’s meals?
Dr Ng: Exercise flexibility. Spread out mealtimes and milk-feeding times during Baby’s waking hours and when she’s ready to be fed.
– Dr Yvonne Ng is a senior consultant at the Department of Neonatology in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and at the National University Children’s Medical Institute, National University Hospital.
– Dr Eugene Han is a paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre.
(Also read: How to introduce solids to Baby)