Pregnancy week by week

Baby

Toddler

Getting into good habits

                                    
                                   

Feeding your baby a varied and balanced diet will give them the best chance of growing up into a healthy child and adult. It’s much easier to establish good habits from the start, as it can be hard to change things once your baby is older. Up to 12 months, babies are willing to try new foods, so this is a good time to introduce a wide variety of foods with different textures and tastes. Wherever possible, offer them the same food as you are giving the rest of the family.

The easiest way to do this is by giving them a small mashed-up portion of whatever you are eating. It’s cheaper and it will help your baby get used to eating like the rest of the family. The aim is for your baby to get used to eating a wide variety of ordinary foods and to your pattern of eating-say, three meals a day with a drink at each meal and two or three small, healthy snacks in between. Try to include foods from all the below mentioned food groups in your child’s daily diet.

1) Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try to introduce lots of different types from an early age, by making sure fruit and vegetables are included in every meal. If your child flatly refuses to eat vegetables, keep trying but offer them plenty of fruits too and try not to make a big fuss if they refuse. It can help if you show them that you like eating vegetables.

 Smart ways with vegetables

Give peeled cucumber slice, peeled apple for snacks, cooked mashed vegetables with rice, mashed potatoes, or, mix fruit with yoghurt for a tasty dessert.


 2) Milk and dairy products

You should avoid giving cow’s milk till your baby is one year old. However, you can add cow’s milk to make milk based dishes. Give cubes of cheese or yoghurt; this will provide the calcium your baby needs to develop strong bones and teeth.

Some ideas to try
  • Milk : porridge, breakfast cereals with milk, vermicelli cooked in whole milk, rice pudding, custard or bread-and butter pudding.

  • Cheese: cheese on toast, cheese on baked vegetables, vegetable soup with grated cheese, chunks of cheese, paneer dishes.

  • Yoghurt: add raw or cooked fruit to full-fat yoghurt or add yoghurt to curry.

3) Carbohydrates/Energy

Starchy foods provide energy, nutrients and some fibre. Your baby needs high-calorie foods for their growth and development. Let your child try lots of different varieties of starchy foods. Give bread, cereals, idlis, potatoes, rice, pasta or chapattis at meals or as snacks.


4) Meat, fish and other proteins

Young children need protein to grow and develop. Meat, fish, eggs, pulses (like beans, lentils and peas) are excellent sources of protein. Give your baby one or two portions from this group each day.


5) Getting enough iron

Iron is essential for your baby’s health. Lack of iron can lead to anaemia, which can hold back your baby’s physical and mental development. Children who carry on drinking too much milk are most at risk of anaemia.

Iron comes in two forms. One is found in meat and fish and is easily absorbed by the body. The other is found in plant foods and is not as easy for the body to absorb. Even a small amount of meat or fish is useful because it also helps the body to absorb iron from other food sources. If you are a vegetarian, make sure your baby is getting enough iron by giving them plenty of:

Fortified breakfast cereals, dark green vegetables, bread, beans, lentils and dhal. It is also a good idea to give foods or drinks that are high in vitamin C at mealtimes, as vitamin C may help your baby absorb iron from non-meat sources.


6) Fat

Young children, especially under twos, need the concentrated energy provided by fat. There are also some vitamins that are only found in fats. That is why foods such as full fat yoghurt, cheese and oily fish are so important. However, do not allow your baby to get accustomed to a high fat diet. The following tips will help to reduce the amount of fat in your family meals:
  • Grill or bake foods instead of frying
     
  • Skim the fat off meat dishes like mince or curry during cooking

  • Buy leaner cuts of meat and lower-fat meat products, such as sausages

  • Take the skin off poultry before cooking-it’s the fattiest part

  • Reduce the amount of meat you eat, and make up the difference with lentils, spilt peas and beans

  • Use as little cooking oil as possible and choose one that is high in omega 3 polysaturates such as rapeseed, soya or olive oil.

                                        Foods to avoid

Salt- Babies should not eat much salt as their kidneys cannot cope with it. This means that you should not add salt to your baby’s food. Babies up to one year should have no more than 1 gm of salt per day.
 
Sugar- Your baby doesn’t need sugar and by avoiding sugary snacks and drinks you will help to prevent tooth decay. If necessary, use mashed banana, breast milk or formula milk to sweeten food.

Honey- Very occasionally honey contains bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to a very serious illness (infant botulism), so it’s best not to give your child honey until they are one year old.


Nuts- Whole nuts, including peanuts, should not be given to children under five in case they choke.

Sharks, swordfish and marlin- The levels of mercury in these fish can affect a baby’s growing nervous system.

Eggs- Eggs can be given to babies over six months, but make sure they are thoroughly cooked until both the white and the yolk are solid.
 

                                              Useful  tips

  • Eating as a family encourages your baby to get into good habits from a young age. If your baby is used to eating a wide variety of the foods as the rest of the family eats, although they need to be cut up a bit smaller, then they are less likely to be fussy eater as they grow older.
     
  • Encourage your baby in the family mealtime routine. Feed your baby while family members are eating. Make it a point to eat when your baby is eating. Smile and talk to your baby when eating to make them feel included.

  • Give your baby the same food as the rest of the family, even if it has to be mashed up first. But remember to leave out the salt.

  • Encourage babies and young children to feed themselves with finger foods, and let them decide when they have had enough.

  • Be prepared for some messiness. It is only natural for your baby to touch or play with their food when they are beginning to feed themselves. Use a plastic sheet, old bed sheet, or newspapers on the floor. Use a bib to catch food spills.

  • Try to organise meal times at the same time every day so as to make a routine. He would know what to expect.

  • Try not to give too many sweet-tasting foods and drinks. This can encourage a sweet tooth.  Restrict sugary drinks like fruit juice and sweets only to meal times as this will help prevent tooth decay. Don’t add sugar to milk.

                                Ensuring safety and hygiene

Take adequate precautions while preparing food. Keep these points in mind while preparing and serving food:
  • Wash your hands before preparing your baby’s food
     
  • Wash your baby’s hand before feeding him

  • Keep surfaces clean and prevent pets from coming near food

  • Don’t save and re-use foods that your baby has half eaten. It may result in tummy upset.

  • Cooked food should not be reheated more than once.

  • Cook all food thoroughly and cool it to a lukewarm temperature before giving it to your baby.

  • Avoid raw and half cooked eggs.

  • Wash and peel fruit and vegetables, such as apples and carrots.

  • Reheat food thoroughly so it is piping hot all the way through. Allow it to cool before offering to your baby.

                                            Choking

    Babies can choke on hard foods such as raw carrot sticks or large pieces of apple, small round foods like grapes or fish bones. Peel the skin off the fruit and vegetables and remove all bones of the fish. You could also cut food into small pieces and lightly cook vegetables like carrots. It’s also important not to leave your child alone when they are eating. Babies should not eat when lying back or when on the move.

    Remember

    By about one year of age, babies should be trying to feed themselves. Some are very independent and want no help-so be patient, even if most of the food misses their mouths! Others will accept your help, but will still want to hold a spoon themselves while being fed. Whichever group your child falls into, you can encourage them to feed themselves either with a spoon or by giving them finger foods.

    Remember, homemade foods are the safest and healthiest. You can cook a variety of meals and try out different combinations and ingredients to suit your baby’s palate. You can also ensure that the freshness and hygiene levels are maintained.

 

 



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