HiPP Organic

HiPP's Baby & Nutrition Blog

Combining foods to make a balanced diet for your baby

Posted on 30 October 2012 by Helen

Hi,

Last time I was talking about how to prepare your baby for a good balanced diet and a good relationship with food.  But I didn’t really talk about what foods a baby needs to eat to achieve this balance and to get all the nutrients they need for optimal growth and development.

The important thing to remember is that no single food can give a child all the necessary nutrients after 6 months of age (obviously before this breastmilk, or formula, can), so from 6 months we must eat a combination of foods from 5 different food groups. These are:

Cereals and potato – e.g. breakfast cereals, bread, chappati, pitta, rice, couscous, pasta, potatoes.  These should be included in each meal.  Aim for 3-4 servings a day and offer as much variety as possible over the course of a week.

Fruits and vegetables – includes fresh, frozen, tinned and dried.  Again offer them at each meal and as snacks too.  Aim for 5 small portions each day, with lots of different types of fruits and vegetables being introduced.  There are plenty to choose from.  Remember, fruit juices can only count as one of their ‘5 a day’.

Milk and dairy foods – e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt, fromage frais.  Aim for 3 servings a day.  Obviously, before your baby is fully weaned onto a mixed diet comprising 3 meals a day they will probably be taking more than this.  Remember too that all milk and dairy products should be full-fat until your baby is at least 2 years old.

Meat, fish and alternatives – e.g. meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses. Aim for 1-2 servings a day if your child eats meat and fish, but if they are vegetarian they should have 2-3 servings a day.  Whole nuts should not be given before the age of 5 years, and if there is a family history of allergies then you should check with your health visitor or doctor before introducing any nut products into your baby’s diet.

Foods high in fat and sugar – active toddlers and children need some of these foods to help provide energy and some important fats and vitamins, but the quantities eaten should be small to avoid excess weight gain.  And of course too much sugar can increase the risk of dental caries, especially if eaten in large amounts and at certain times.

Provided your baby eats a good mix of foods from these 5 food groups they should meet all their nutritional needs and this will pave the way for a good balanced diet throughout childhood and beyond.  Don’t worry too much about serving sizes, these will grow as your baby grows, but if you are concerned at any time you should speak to your health visitor or ask to speak to a paediatric dietitian who will be able to fully assess your baby’s diet.

Best wishes.
Helen

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Categories: Weaning, Baby development

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Importance of good dental hygiene for babies and young children

Posted on 23 September 2011 by Helen

Hi Everyone,

Babies are born with a preference for sweet-tasting foods and a baby’s sole source of nutrition for the first few months of life, breastmilk or infant formula, tastes sweet (with the sweetness coming from the carbohydrate lactose). But once weaning onto solids starts, whether your baby’s teeth have started to appear yet or not, it is important to limit the amount and frequency of sugars in their diet. Controlling sugars intake will help to ensure a baby eats a more balanced diet and does not put on too much weight, and will help reduce the risk of dental caries (decay). You can’t remove sugars from a baby’s diet completely and actually sugars can be a really useful source of energy in babies, especially with their small stomachs and high energy requirements. But it’s all about getting the balance right, introducing them to lots of different tastes, avoiding high-sugar foods and drinks, and giving sugar-containing foods and drinks at the right times.

Foods containing sugars should be eaten at mealtimes and should be avoided between meals to keep the risk of dental caries to a minimum. Milk and water remain the preferred drinks for babies and toddlers, but you can give diluted fruit juice as well occasionally at mealtimes. An advantage of fruit juices with vitamin C is that they help the body to absorb vitally necessary iron, but as they contain naturally occurring sugars they should be used sensibly. Try to introduce your baby to a feeding cup or beaker instead of a feeding bottle as early as possible to avoid prolonged contact of sugars with growing teeth.

Cleaning your baby’s teeth needs to become part of their daily routine as soon as teeth start erupting. Use a pea-sized amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste on a soft toothbrush or cloth, cleaning using small circular movements, front and back, in the morning and last thing before bed. Get your toddler used to going to the dentist too - start them off by coming with you for your check-up so that they can get used to the environment – dentists try hard to make children feel comfortable and will often give out stickers too!

For more information on diet and dental health have a look at the following links:-

 

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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How much does my baby need to drink?

Posted on 10 November 2010 by Helen

Hi Everyone,

If I’m asked the question ‘How much drink should my baby have?’, I look at their age, weight, milk intake, stage of weaning, health, environmental conditions, and so on, and then consider how much they should have to meet their needs and to avoid dehydration.

Generally, babies less than 4-6 months should not be offered any additional drinks (water, diluted juice or others) other than their usual milk. Milk alone, either breast milk or formula, should be able to meet all their needs for nutrition and fluids up to at least 4 months of age, and giving additional drinks can be harmful if they reduce milk intake. However, an occasional additional drink may help if the baby has a fever, in hot weather or in centrally-heated houses where there is the possibility of dehydration, and a small volume of cooled, boiled water once or twice a day should do the trick in these situations.

For babies who have already started weaning onto solids, a small drink of water or diluted fruit juice can be given at mealtimes to ensure baby doesn’t get thirsty. Between meals, only water or milk should be offered because of the risk of dental decay caused by drinks containing sugars (whether naturally occurring or added). Milk continues to be really important throughout the weaning period though and milk feeds should be given 3-4 times a day, with at least a pint of milk (about 600ml) being consumed.

Toddlers need less milk (about 360-500ml each day), but they still need fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

You should always keep an eye on how well hydrated your baby is. Regular wet nappies are important and signs of dehydrated should be acted on swiftly:

  • Dark yellow urine
  • A sunken fontanelle (soft spot) 
  • Dry or sticky lips and mouth 
  • Skin that has lost its elasticity

Hope this helps. Let us know if you’re not sure if your baby is getting enough.

Bye for now.
Helen

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