How big a problem is being obese or overweight for children?
Not a week goes by without hearing something in the news about the rising problem of obesity in this country. It’s something we should all be concerned about, especially when you hear how many children are affected. Around one third of all children in the UK are currently above a healthy weight and this number is increasing year on year. It’s estimated that by 2050, two thirds of children will be obese or overweight.
There are of course some serious consequences of being obese, including an increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes and other health problems. Most parents are understandably keen to ensure that the eating patterns their children develop are healthy ones and I’m often asked by parents if the amounts of foods their babies are eating are normal or whether they are eating too much and at risk of becoming overweight. As I said in my last blog, making sure your baby is active is important too.
Starting weaning at the correct time and not too early (recommended weaning age is 6 months, although some babies may need weaning earlier, although not before 4 months) is key to reducing obesity risk. Once weaning has started, you should encourage your baby to eat a varied, balanced diet; unhealthy eating can ‘programme’ young children’s tastes for the rest of their lives. Weaning babies on pureed junk food, chocolate bars, crisps and fizzy sugary drinks just isn’t an option!
For more information on a good diet to feed your baby, have a look at these links:
Your health visitor will advise you on how often you should get your baby weighed to check they are gaining weight at the correct rate, and if you have any concerns you should have a chat with them.
Goodbye for now.
My baby is constipated, what should I do?
I’m often asked for advice about bowel habits! One of the occupational hazards of being a nutritionist/dietitian I guess. If a parent comes to me saying that their baby is not passing frequent stools and the stools are hard, often pellet-like, and baby appears to be in some pain, it’s likely they are constipated. Constipation is most common in bottle fed babies (in which case I always check that the formula is being prepared correctly), and also in babies who have started eating more solids and drinking less milk. Caused by dehydration, in these cases I often advise parents to offer extra drinks of water or diluted juice which will help to rehydrate and relieve the constipated baby.
If baby has started weaning onto solids, it’s a good idea to give a variety of different pureed or chopped fruits (adjust consistency to suit age of baby), such as apples, apricots, blueberries, grapes, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries or strawberries. These are all fibrous foods that can help relieve constipation and are worth a try. Babies can also have some wholewheat pasta or breakfast cereals, porridge or wholemeal bread to increase the amount of fibre in their diet, but the amounts of these should be kept fairly small and not given every day as they can be a bit bulky for babies.
Giving a warm bath can sometimes help relax babies and relieve constipation, as can baby massage. Also, I often suggest that parents try lying their baby on his/her back and move their legs in a bicycling motion – this can often help.
If these home treatments have not worked, or if your baby’s constipation is severe, a doctor or pharmacist may suggest a laxative, probably lactulose, but only try this with their guidance.
Some useful websites to look at for more advice are:
The nhs website
Weaning advice on hipp.co.uk
Bye for now,
Healthy eating for babies and toddlers
The key to healthy eating for your babies and toddlers is variety! No one food can give them every nutrient they need, and a wide range of food tastes and textures experienced now will help ensure they have a healthier diet as they grow older. There are so many different foods readily available to us these days that, even if your baby has likes and dislikes, it should be possible to provide your baby with a varied, wholesome diet. Don’t worry if they go through phases of only wanting the same foods; this sometimes happens, but keep offering more different tastes along the way.
A healthy diet is one made up from a mixture of the 5 different food groups shown below:
Starchy foods - Every baby or toddler meal should be based on starchy foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, chapatti, cereals, yam or plantain (and offer starchy foods at some snack times).
Fruit and Veg - At every one of the mealtimes include some sort of fruit and/or vegetables. Aim for 5 portions per day and choose as many different colours of fruit and veg as possible.
Protein - Once weaning is established, aim to give two to three servings of ‘protein' foods such as meat, fish, eggs, beans or pulses, each day.
Dairy - Give them about three servings a day of dairy products such as milk, yogurt or cheese. From 6 months up to around the age of one year, your baby should be drinking about 500ml milk (breast or formula) per day, but this should decrease to around 360ml for toddlers from 1 year onwards.
Fats or sugar - Foods that are high in fat and/or sugar can be a valuable source of the extra energy that babies and toddlers need, but should only be given in limited quantities.
Of course, as weaning progresses and your baby reaches the end of their first year, the range of different foods they can eat should have increased. There is lots of helpful advice on feeding a balanced diet to your toddler, you might also like to visit the Little People Plates website.
Fussy Eating in babies and toddlers
Refusing to eat certain foods can mean different things for different babies at different times. It may just be their way of getting your attention. It may just be that they don’t like the taste or texture of a particular food at a particular time, but this doesn’t mean they will always refuse the same food. For some foods you may need to offer it more than ten times before they’ll happily eat it. My daughter refused peas for years, I even resorted to hiding them in her mashed potato to try and get her to eat them (although of course she always found them!), but now she loves them!
How many of you are having to deal with your baby being fussy about the food at the moment? It can be exasperating having the foods you’ve lovingly prepared for your little one being refused, but you can be sure you’re not alone. Particularly for toddlers, food refusal is all part of them wanting to exert their new-found independence on the world around them! It is a normal phase that many of them go through and you shouldn’t worry too much.
However, there are a few things you can do to help during this phase:
- Stay relaxed, don’t rush mealtimes, be patient
- Eat with your baby whenever possible
- Offer mainly familiar foods, but try new foods in small quantities too
- As they get older, let your toddler be involved with shopping and preparing meals so they feel more in control
- If a food is refused, don’t force them to eat it. Withdraw it without any fuss, and then try it again another time.
- Praise your child when they have completed a meal, but don’t scold them when they don’t.
For more advice on feeding a fussy eater, have a look at our expert advice on hipp.co.uk
Tags: babies, baby, food, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, weaning, fussy eater, toddlers
Categories: About Hipp Organic, Baby development, Weaning
Introducing toddlers to family meals
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:
Looking forward to next time!
Tags: babies, eating, food, Hipp Organic, nutrition, recipe, snacks, toddlers, weaning
Categories: About Hipp Organic, Baby development, Milk feeding