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Not eating for two, staying healthy for two!

Posted on 8 February 2012 by Helen

Hello again,

Looking after yourself during your pregnancy is important for you and will also give your baby the best start in life. I believe, and I hope you will all agree, that making sure your diet is as good as it can be makes good sense at this special time, to optimise your own health and also that of your growing baby. 

During pregnancy, you should eat as wide a variety of different foods as possible to make sure you get all the nourishment you both need. Where there might be concerns that dietary intake might not be enough to meet requirements then supplements are recommended. This is considered to be the case with folic acid which is so important in the early stages of pregnancy, and vitamin D supplements are recommended nowadays too. Speak to your doctor if you want more information on vitamin supplements, or if it’s easier then the NHS website is really helpful. 

For advice on healthy eating during pregnancy, rather than me listing it all out here, can I ask you to visit the HiPP website.

Here you will find lots of valuable information about your pregnancy diet, foods to avoid, recipes to try and what to do if you have concerns about food allergies. And if you have any questions that you can’t find answers for, you can always ask either me or one of my colleagues and we will be more than happy to help if we can.

Good luck with your pregnancy.

Until next time...
Helen

 

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Preparing for pregnancy with a healthy diet

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Helen

Hello again!

Whether you’re planning your first baby or you’re thinking about having another, a healthy diet makes good sense for both you and your partner. Your eating, weight and lifestyle habits have a significant influence on your health, your fertility and once you’ve become pregnant on the growth and development of your unborn baby.

Now is a great time to reassess your diet and to check that you are eating a wide variety of healthy foods. You need to have a good balance between starchy carbohydrate foods; moderate amounts of protein foods; low fat dairy products and plenty of fruits and vegetables. A healthy balanced diet should supply you with all the nutrients you need, but one vitamin that is particularly important pre-conceptually and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is folic acid and so you should take extra folic acid (400mcg/day) in the form of a supplement during this time.

There are also a couple of other nutrients that need special attention at this time. You should make sure you’re eating enough iron-rich foods to build up your body stores in preparation for your pregnancy, so include red meat, fish, poultry, beans, dark green leafy vegetables and wholegrain cereals regularly. Omega 3 fatty acids play a critical role in the development of the brain and nervous system of a baby so it is a good idea to top up your stores of these too by eating two portions of fish per week (at least one of these portions as oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel).

Both you and your partner should reduce your alcohol intakes in line with official recommendations and aim for a healthy weight. Being a healthy body weight can help you to conceive – being very underweight or obese can reduce your chances of conceiving, and being obese while pregnant can increase the risk of complications. And for your partner, it is worth checking the diet contains enough zinc and selenium containing foods as these have been shown to be linked with sperm quality. Lean red meat, wholegrain cereals, seafood and eggs are good sources of these nutrients.

If you want to read more, here are two good links which you may find useful:

http://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/lifestages/trying-for-a-baby
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/treatments/healthy_living/nutrition/life_preconcpreg.shtml

Until next time....
Helen

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Does my baby or toddler need vitamin or mineral supplements?

Posted on 11 July 2011 by Helen

Hi!

Of course, none of us want our kids to be missing out on anything important in their diets and if there is a risk that they might not be getting enough of any particular vitamin or mineral we will probably want to give them a supplement of some sort, so when are supplements necessary?

Vitamin Supplements

In fact, the Government recommends that all children between 6 months and 5 years are given vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D.  Even if your child is eating a wide variety of different foods, giving this vitamin supplement can safeguard them against vitamin deficiencies and so makes good sense. 

A couple of important considerations –

  • If you are breastfeeding your baby and you didn’t take a vitamin D supplement during pregnancy, you may be advised to give your baby a vitamin D supplement from 1 month of age, not 6 months
  • If your baby is formula fed and is drinking more than 500ml formula per day, they will be getting the vitamins they need from this formula and so you won’t actually need to give them any extra vitamin supplements until they’re drinking less formula.
  • It’s important to remember that too much of some vitamins is as harmful as not enough, so don’t give your baby two vitamin supplements at the same time. 

Ask you health visitor for advice on which vitamin drops to use and if you’re eligible for free vitamin supplements for your baby. 

Mineral supplements

Unlike vitamins, most babies won’t need mineral supplements. 

One mineral parents often worry about is ‘iron’, but if your baby is eating some meat or fish every day, and eating other foods that are a good source of iron, such as fortified breakfast cereals, dark green vegetables, bread, beans and lentils, eggs, dried fruits (eg. apricots, figs and prunes), then they are likely to be getting enough iron to meet their needs. But if you are still concerned about your baby's iron intake, talk to your doctor and if they think a supplement is necessary then they can advise you on which one to give.

For most babies, milk and other dairy products will provide all the calcium a baby needs, but if your baby has a milk intolerance then it’s worth checking with your doctor if they are likely to be getting enough calcium and if a supplement is necessary.

I hope this helps. Until next time…
Helen

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Is a vegetarian diet safe for your baby?

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Helen

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Hello!

In a recent Food Standards Agency survey, 5% of over 2000 adults surveyed claimed to be vegetarian or vegan, with women more likely to follow a vegetarian/vegan diet than men (6% vs 3%).  Perhaps no surprises here, but how many parents want to wean their babies onto a vegetarian diet and is this a safe way of feeding?

I don’t know the answer to the first part of the question – I don’t think there is any accurate data to put a % to the number of babies being weaned as vegetarians.  But I do know that babies and children can grow and develop normally on a vegetarian diet, provided extra attention is given to the foods they eat to make sure their nutritional needs are met.  Vegetarian diets can be high in fibre, leading to lower energy intakes and reduced absorption of some important minerals, such as iron and zinc.   You will need to make sure that there are alternative sources of iron in the diet if meat is excluded, so include foods such as pulses, beans, green leafy vegetables, and offer vitamin C from fruit, vegetables or fruit juices with every meal to improve iron absorption.

Vegan diets, on the other hand, can’t easily give babies all the nutrition they need and so these diets aren’t recommended for young babies, but if you are certain this is what you want for your baby you should definitely speak to a dietitian first.

All children between 6 months – 5 years who are following a vegetarian diet should be given vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D.  Vegan children additionally need vitamin B12.

If you would like to read more about weaning your baby onto a vegetarian diet, have a look at the link below:
http://www.vegsoc.org/info/VegSoc-Infant%20Diet.pdf

What are your thoughts on babies being given vegetarian diets?  Let me know.

Helen

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How much fruit and veg should baby eat a day?

Posted on 28 September 2010 by Helen

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Hi again!

I often get asked “how much fruit and veg should my baby be having a day?” For adults and older children the message is pretty clear and can be seen everywhere – on supermarket shelves, food labels, TV and magazine adverts, healthy eating literature, websites (see below) – eat 5 portions a day, each portion being 80g.

Visit the NHS website - 5 a day

Although fruits and vegetables are staple foods during weaning and it’s hard to imagine most babies not getting enough, as yet health departments in the UK haven’t quantified the recommended fruit and veg intakes for babies and so parents often don’t know whether their little ones are getting enough.

Fruit and veg are full of lots of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fibre, and to make sure your baby benefits from the full array of nutrients these foods have to offer it makes good sense to include lots of different types - a mix of green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cabbage, green beans), yellow or orange vegetables (e.g. carrots, squash, swede, sweet potato), and fruits (e.g. apricots, mangoes, bananas, peaches).  Include some fruit and veg at every meal if possible, and aim for 5 servings a day, but don’t worry if some days, especially at the start of weaning, this is less.

With regards to portion sizes for babies, official advice only says that the amount is smaller than the adult recommendation of 80g, but how much smaller? The Caroline Walker Trust has recently published advice on portion sizes for toddlers aged 1-4 years and they quote 40g fruit/veg as a portion.  They are publishing advice on infant portion sizes later in the year but until this is available, my thinking is that 30-35g makes a sensible portion size.  This equates to approximately half a small pear, apple, banana or peach; one small plum; one small carrot or parsnip; 3 cauliflower florets; 1 tablespoon peas.  Most HiPP Organic baby foods contain 1-2 fruit or veg portions per jar or pot, so they can really help boost fruit and veg intakes.

Let me know whether you think your baby is getting enough.......

Best wishes - Helen

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