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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Setting your baby up for one of life's greatest pleasures

Posted on 5 October 2012 by Helen

Hi Everyone,

What every parent wants is for their child to grow up happy and healthy.  One of life’s great pleasures is food and we are very fortunate in the Western world to have many tasty, nutritious and exciting foods available for us to enjoy.  What parents don’t want is for their child to grow up being really fussy about the foods that they eat and for mealtimes to become a battleground.  So what can you do to help ensure that your baby enjoys his/her meals and gets all the nutritious benefits that a well balanced diet can provide from the first stages of weaning into childhood and beyond?

Although the first solids you offer will be bland and arguably uninteresting, steadily you can start to introduce a wide variety of different foods with different tastes and textures.  As your baby is able to take on the challenge of finger foods, lots of different shapes and colours can be explored with their hands and mouths to add to this enjoyment of foods.  It is really important to offer as much variety as you can during the period of 6-12 months of age as babies are very open to trying new foods and tastes during this time.  Unfortunately, during their second year they start to become much more particular about what they’ll eat. Research has shown that those babies who have plenty of variety early on are less likely to become fussy and faddy with their eating as they get older.

Your facial expressions and verbal encouragements during the weaning period play a really important role in getting your baby to eat a varied diet.  Remember to smile and offer as much encouragement as possible, especially when trying something new, and try to make mealtimes a pleasure for both of you.  Develop a good mealtime routine, based around your baby’s daytime sleeps, and try to avoid feeding times when your baby is likely to be too tired to enjoy food.  By 11-12 months of age, most babies should be able to enjoy family meals sharing many of the same foods as everyone else at the table, and using their own spoon and fork.  Very grown up!

Next time I will talk a bit more about what makes up a good balanced diet for babies and toddlers.

Until then, happy eating!
Helen

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