Should you move your toddler onto a Growing up milk?
As your baby approaches his/her first birthday, you might start thinking about whether you should be keeping them on the same milk feeds or not. Although they need less of it, milk is still an important part of a toddler’s diet and provides them with valuable protein, energy, vitamins and minerals such as calcium. From the age of 1 year, they should be getting about ½-¾ pint (about 300-400 ml) milk each day. You shouldn’t let them drink much more than this as it reduces the appetite for other valuable foods.
Toddlers are often switched from formula milk feeds to whole cows’ milk at the age of one. But is this the best thing to do or are there any benefits in sticking with formula milk instead and if so which one should you use? Cows’ milk can give your toddler lots of the nutrients that he or she needs, but certain nutrients such as iron and vitamin D are found in much higher amounts in formula milks and this can been a nutritional advantage.
Toddlers are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency. It is estimated that 1 in 8 toddlers in the UK may be anaemic, with the problem being even greater than this in some groups. Babies are born with enough iron stores to last until about 6 months of age and after this they rely on food sources, but some toddlers may not eat enough of these iron-containing foods to meet their needs. Fussy eating during toddlerhood can certainly make the situation worse.
If your toddler is a fussy eater or their intake of iron-containing foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals is limited, then they could very well benefit from the continued use of a formula milk such as a Growing up Milk from the 12th month. These Growing up Milks usually contain 40 times more iron than whole cows’ milk. But this doesn’t mean that you can stop encouraging them to eat these other foods; variety is key to a healthier diet for your growing child.
For vitamin D is another nutrient that toddlers may be lacking. It is only found in a limited number of foods e.g. oily fish, eggs, fortified margarines and cereals, and although it can also be made by the action of sunlight on skin this synthesis may be reduced if the skin has limited exposure to sunlight (as a result of clothing worn, living conditions or use of sunscreens). Growing up Milks are fortified with vitamin D and can help safeguard toddlers against a deficiency of this vital vitamin which is important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth and for nerve and muscle function.
For more advice on milk and other drinks at this age, you might want to have a look at the HiPP Baby Club website.
Bye for now.
A look around your supermarket will reveal an increasing number of foods on sale that contain probiotics, or ‘friendly bacteria’, such as live yogurts and fermented milk drinks. These ‘friendly bacteria’, when added to foods, are considered to have ‘a beneficial effect on the health and well being of the host’. They are different to ‘prebiotics’ which are found naturally in some foods, e.g. bananas, chicory, artichokes, and added to others which are not the bacteria themselves but non-digestible food components which stimulate the growth and/or activity of friendly bacteria in the gut.
The health claims that can be made for foods containing ‘friendly bacteria’ is severely limited by the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulations and so far none of the claims submitted to the European Food Standards Agency for inclusion in the ‘permitted health claims’ list have been approved, so it is likely to become increasingly difficult for consumers to get information and understand how these ‘friendly bacteria’ could benefit their health.
However, one food you won’t find on the supermarket shelves that does contain ‘friendly bacteria’ but is known to benefit health is human breastmilk. Once thought to be sterile, research in recent years has confirmed that breastmilk actually contains a wide range of bacteria, including lactic acid bacteria with probiotic potential, although the exact composition of this bacterial component of breastmilk varies between individual women.
By providing a continuous supply of bacteria to a baby through lactation, breastmilk plays a significant role in the initiation and development of the gut flora of an infant which doesn’t become fully developed until around the age of 2 years. Researchers believe it is the presence of ‘friendly bacteria’ in breastmilk that could help to explain why breastfed babies suffer from fewer and less severe infections and lower incidence of allergies than non-breastfed babies.
Until next time....
Weight management before and during pregnancy
The statistics are quite alarming - half of the UK population is now either overweight or obese. This has a huge impact on the health of the individuals involved, and on the NHS and UK economy. Women of childbearing age are very much at risk of the adverse effects of obesity. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is associated with increased pregnancy complications (e.g. pre-eclampsia, diabetes, high blood pressure) and adverse outcomes for both mothers and babies, and is a major risk factor for childhood obesity.
In May 2012 the British Medical Journal* published an article by a team of medical researchers which challenges the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines from 2010 which state that dieting during pregnancy is not recommended and may harm the unborn child. These researchers undertook a review of 44 previous studies involving more than 7000 obese or overweight pregnant women to establish the effects of dietary and lifestyle interventions on pregnancy outcomes. They concluded from these studies that following a healthy diet and limiting calorie intake during pregnancy to manage excessive weight and pregnancy weight gain can significantly reduce the risk of complications for you and your baby and did not affect babies’ birth weights.
If you are overweight or obese and you are thinking of having a baby, it makes sense to try to lose some weight before you conceive. If you are already pregnant then you shouldn’t be aiming to lose weight during your pregnancy, but you should manage any weight gain carefully and not gain more than has been recommended to you by your doctor or midwife. You should be eating sensibly – have a look at our advice on a balanced pregnancy diet.
If you'd like to share your experiences with us we'd love to hear how you've got on; were you able to lose weight before you conceived or how much weight did you gain during your pregnancy?
Bye for now.
Setting a good example around foods
As parents we have many responsibilities. One that shouldn’t be underestimated in this day and age, in my opinion, is teaching our children about healthy food choices and sensible eating.
We must try to help our children feel good about their bodies and show them how to maintain a healthy body weight, whilst ensuring that the foods they choose provides all the nutrition they need for good health and well-being. Whilst you may feel you don’t have all the skills and nutritional knowledge to pass on to your children, there are various tools available to help you do this. Some links that you might find useful for yourself and any older children are given below:
NHS - Good food for home
NHS - Change 4 Life
Some simple things to remember include:
- Offer children a variety of nutritious foods at planned meal and snack times – and if possible eat with them and use it as an opportunity to talk about different foods and why they are good to include in the diet
- Plan meals and snacks at regular times - Having set meals and snack times can help children develop good eating patterns and teach them good food behaviors
- Don’t overfeed – try and pick up on their cues for when they are hungry or full. Babies and young children generally have ways of telling you when they are hungry and know when they’ve had enough to eat. Don’t force babies and young children to finish off all the food that you offer them if they don’t seem to want it.
- Try and be a positive role model for a healthy lifestyle - Children like to imitate adults, and will learn many of their attitudes about healthy (or unhealthy) eating and physical activity from you. Be enthusiastic about trying new foods yourself. Spend time playing actively with them and don’t just sit and watch. When children notice that you are trying new foods and playing actively, they are more likely to do the same.
For a handy guide on what makes up a good diet for a baby, why not have a look at our leaflet.
I hope you’ve found this interesting.
Losing weight after childbirth
It seems that not a week will go by without photos in the media showing celebrities looking super-slim shortly after the birth of their babies. Just last week Beyonce Knowles was looking slim and healthy 10 weeks after having her daughter, but if the stories are to believed this has only come about after a crippling 4 hour a day exercise programme and a restrictive diet of protein shakes, egg-white omelettes, pineapple chunks and lots of ice-cold water! Not something most of us would want or be able to do, I think.
But is this the best way to lose weight after birth? The concern is that these celebrity mums pressurise, although not intentionally, other women to lose weight too fast after the birth putting their health and well-being at risk. Crash dieting can have health consequences. As I'm sure many of you already know, having a baby is a tiring business and severely restricting your diet can only make this worse. A lack of energy will mean you won't be in the best state to look after your baby properly and it may well slow down your recovery from your pregnancy. Of course if you are breastfeeding it may well affect your breastmilk supply too.
Weight loss after birth takes time - a pregnancy usually takes 9 months and it can take at least this long to get your weight back to normal. Losing weight gradually can help mums to maintain a healthier weight in the long term, whereas crash diets don't encourage the best eating habits or healthy weight loss or maintenance.
The best advice is to eat a nutritious, varied diet from the start, eating when you are hungry, and not to even think about slimming for at least the first 6 weeks or so after your baby is born. Breastfeeding mums are often hungry and will need to eat more calories than a bottle feeding mum due to the demands of breastfeeding, but some of these extra calories can be met from using body fat stores, so breastfeeding can help with post-pregnancy weight loss. Have a look at our website for advice on eating well while breastfeeding.
Whether you are breastfeeding or not, it is important that you eat healthy meals and avoid eating too many high energy meals and snacks, and that you adjust your portion sizes to suit your appetite.
And don't expect to do 4 hours exercise a day. You can start to do some gentle exercise (walking, pelvic floor exercises, stretching) as soon as you feel up to it after your baby is born, but you should wait six weeks or so before taking up more strenuous exercise. Why not look at our website for some postnatal exercise tips?
Until next time.