HiPP Organic

HiPP's Baby & Nutrition Blog

Introducing toddlers to family meals

Posted on 12 May 2011 by Helen

Hi Everyone.

Sorry, it’s been a while since I was last in touch – must be something to do with all the Bank Holidays we’ve had recently!

For those of you whose little ones have already reached the toddler stage, you’ve probably already read about the importance of healthy eating for your toddler and the influence their eating habits now can have on their future health.  No doubt you’re trying to make sure your toddler has a healthy eating routine and you’re offering a good variety of nutrient-dense foods to make sure they meet all their nutritional requirements.  At this stage, you should be able to offer your toddler many meals that are being eaten by the rest of the family, maybe just chopped up a bit if necessary, but this isn’t always the case.  Just when you think life might start getting a bit easier now that you don’t have to prepare meals especially for your baby, fussy eating might be getting in the way! Look out for my next blog for some hints and tips on handling fussy eating.

When planning your family’s meals, there are a few important things you should remember about a toddler’s dietary needs that might influence the foods they can eat and any adaptations you might want to make to family meals –

  • Energy needs are high as toddlers become more active, but they still have relatively small tummies and appetites can be small
  • Toddlers like routine, so work out when they can eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day, planned around their sleeping time
  • Toddlers need more fat and less fibre than older children and adults – use some butter or fat in cooking, use a mixture of white and wholegrain cereals, occasionally offer cakes and biscuits not just fruit for pudding
  • Combine foods from all five food groups in your toddler’s diet – fruits and veg; starchy foods e.g. pasta, potatoes, cereals, bread; meat, fish and alternative protein sources; milk and dairy foods; foods and drinks containing fats and sugars (use in moderation)
  • Make mealtimes enjoyable and eat together as a family whenever possible

You might also want to click on the following links as they contain a lot more useful information:

http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/birthtofive/Pages/Solidsthenextsteps.aspx
http://www.hipp.co.uk/expert-advice/9-plus-months-and-toddlers/feeding-your-toddler

Looking forward to next time!
Helen

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How much food should my baby be eating?

Posted on 18 February 2011 by Helen

Hi everyone,

Well, this is an interesting question but as every baby is different there is no standard answer, whatever their age, so if you are wondering if your baby is getting enough foods I might not be able to set your mind at rest here I’m afraid :-(.  However, there are some basic pointers we can use to work out how much food your little one should be eating and I hope you find these useful.

  • Between 4-6 months of age, most babies can be satisfied by milk alone without the need for solid foods until 6 months. 
  • However, there are others who seem to need some solid foods before 6 months as milk alone doesn’t seem to satisfy them.  Remember that even in these cases milk still provides most of the nourishment baby needs and usually only a few teaspoonfuls of food are needed at any mealtime.  Of course, you can increase the amount of food gradually as baby gets used to it and seems to want more, but make sure they keep their milk intake at more-or-less the same level (babies at 4-5 months usually need about 900ml milk per day).
  • From 6 months of age, the situation is a bit different.  All babies will need to include a variety of different foods in their diets, including foods with a higher energy density than milk, to make sure their nutritional requirements are being met.   As the amount of food given increases, at one then two and then three mealtimes, you will find that baby needs less milk to satisfy him/her.  Once baby is on 3 reasonable meals a day, the volume of milk needed falls to about 600ml per day and you can usually cut out a milk feed or two.  Offer other drinks instead e.g. water or diluted fruit juice, to ensure baby gets enough fluids.
  • For quantities of foods, the best advice I can give is to be guided by your baby’s appetite.  Don’t worry about giving your baby too much food – they will normally turn their heads and refuse to open their mouths when they are full.
  • At the end of the day, as long as your baby is well and wetting and soiling his nappies regularly and is putting on weight steadily, it is likely that you are doing everything you need to do.

Does this help?  Let me know.

Helen

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How can I get my baby to switch from smooth foods to lumpy Stage 2 foods?

Posted on 3 February 2011 by Helen

Hi everyone,

I've just had an email from a mum asking for some advice with helping her baby switch from smooth foods to lumps so I thought I'd share my advice with you all.

Learning to chew is an important stage in your baby's development and although it can take a while for your baby to control lumps in their mouth, it is important to persevere with lumpier foods at around 7 months. Learning to chew helps in the correct muscle development and use of the tongue needed for speech, and of course is also a vital step in them adapting to family-style meals. Sometimes if the lumps haven’t been chewed well enough your baby may cough up the lumps for more chewing and you may think your baby is choking, but this is quite normal. Of course, there is always the possibility of choking, however, so never leave your baby on their own whilst they are eating. If your baby does choke then calmly lift him and turn him upside down. Try to do it gently and without panicking so that you don't frighten your baby.

Try introducing soft lumps at first by mashing soft ripe fruit, cooked vegetables, pasta and cooked fish. You could try mixing a Stage 1 food with some Stage 2 food in the same bowl (choosing similar or complementary varieties), gradually increasing the amount of the lumpier food as your baby gets used to chewing. Alternatively, you could try mashing the Stage 2 food with a fork slightly before you feed it to your baby so that it has a mashed rather than lumpy consistency, and then gradually mash it less and less. Some babies can find lumpy foods in a bowl difficult but have no problems if finger foods are offered to them alongside a smoother meal in a bowl. Try introducing a selection of accompanying finger foods such as pieces of cooked meat (e.g. chicken or ham), grated cheese, cooked pasta shapes, pieces of hard-boiled egg or dried fruits, to encourage chewing.

If your baby still will not take to lumps, try leaving it for a few days and then try again. They will get there in the end!

Let us know about your experiences of introducing lumpy foods or if you’ve got any tips for other mums to try.

Bye for now,

Helen

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When should I start reducing the amount of milk that my baby takes?

Posted on 19 January 2011 by Helen

Hi everyone,

I often get asked 'when should I start reducing the amount of milk that my baby takes? I have just started weaning him and am confused as to when one of his bottle feeds should be dropped.'

It is quite common for parents to be concerned and confused about this as the last thing they want to do is leave their babies short of energy and important nutrients during weaning, yet they don't want to be overfeeding them either. Weaning can be a bit of a hit and miss affair until both of you have established a routine, and babies will often eat more on some days than others for no apparent reason, so their milk intake can fluctuate quite a lot.

So, I encourage parents to be as relaxed and flexible about this as possible and to follow a few basic principles -

  • At the start of weaning, continue to give your baby's usual milk feeds at mealtimes, preferably after you have given them food. The quantities of food eaten at this stage are small and your baby still relies on milk to meet all his nutritional needs.
  • Usually at around 6-7 months, or once your baby has got used to eating solid foods at 3 mealtimes each day, try dropping one of his milk feeds (at lunchtime, say) and offer water or diluted fruit juice in a feeding beaker instead at that mealtime. Often babies show you themselves that they don’t need milk at a mealtime by gradually taking less as they start to eat more; this is a good time to drop this feed, but remember to offer another drink instead to make sure your baby doesn’t get thirsty.
  • Throughout weaning and up to the age of 1 year your baby still needs plenty of breast milk or formula each day, usually with a milk feed morning and evening and other feeds in between as required.  The exact amount will depend on how much solid food your baby eats and you should let your baby decide how much milk he has. As a rough guide, formula fed babies will need about 500-600ml (1 pint) formula per day once weaning is established. 

Hope this helps!

Bye for now,

Helen

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The right age to wean a baby?

Posted on 14 January 2011 by Helen

Hi Everyone,

There’s been a lot of media coverage today about the best age to start weaning babies, with the question being raised whether current weaning advice to start at 6 months of age is appropriate for all babies. So what is the right age?

Although breastfeeding is undoubtedly the best way of feeding a baby for the first few months of life, the research team of highly respected paediatricians in the UK who have today published their report in the British Medical Journal believe that exclusive breastfeeding for the whole of the first 6 months of life might not be the best for all babies.  From reviewing the latest evidence they believe this may increase the risk of food allergies and iron deficiency anaemia in some babies and that they would benefit from earlier weaning, sometime between 4-6 months of age.  Recent reports from the European Food Safety Authority (2009) and the British Dietetic Association (2010) also acknowledge that some babies might be ready for weaning before 6 months and that it is safe to do so between four to six months.

The UK research team were keen to point out that they support the World Health Organisation’s advice for exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months for babies in developing countries where the circumstances are quite different to the UK, but from their review of the evidence accumulated since the publication of the WHO’s advice in 2001 they believe the official advice for the UK should now be revisited.

Other professional bodies and charities like the NCT are, however, standing by the current advice, whilst the Department of Health’s nutrition committee is due to report on infant feeding later this year. So it looks like the debate will continue for some time to come!

Lots of mums complain to me about the amount of conflicting advice they receive about infant feeding and I guess this latest media flurry isn’t going to help them one little bit. But, as always, I would advise that you discuss weaning with your health visitor and then choose the best age for your baby with them. Each baby is different and it’s foolish to think that weaning at exactly the same age is going to suit all babies, but what is important is that the powers-that-be look at the best evidence and come up with the best advice for babies to ensure they achieve optimal growth and development. Nobody can dispute that surely?!

Until next time....
Helen

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