It is not hard to choose a healthy food for our babies and toddlers. Everything you need to do is offer a range of food from different food groups right from the start – and it will be the best possible nutrition for your child’s growth, development and learning.
So, which food is really healthy for our babies an toddlers?
Healthy food includes a wide variety of fresh foods which are divided in to the five healthy food groups:
protein – meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, tofu and so on.
Each of these food group has different nutriments, which your child’s body needs to grow and work properly. That’s why it is so important to eat a range of foods from across all five food groups.
Don’t forget that going from drinking breastmilk or infant formula to eating usual meals takes time, and your baby won’t be eating food from all five food groups straight away. First step is starting your baby on solids. Once your baby has started eating solids, try to include foods from a variety of groups at each meal.
Well, let’s figure out what actually are those five food groups…
Fruit and vegies give your child energy, vitamins, anti-oxidants, fiber and water. They are the best protection of your baby’s body and helping to fight with all kinds of diseases.
Would be perfect to offer your baby fruit and vegetables at every meal and for snacks. Just try to choose fruit and vegies of different colors, textures and tastes, both fresh and cooked, for your baby.
Now grain foods … Such as breakfast cereals, breads, rice, pasta, corn and more. These foods give your child the energy she needs to grow, develop and learn.
Grain foods with a low glycemic index, like wholegrain pasta and breads, will give your child longer-lasting energy and keep him feeling fuller for longer.
Dairy products are milk, cheese and yoghurt are high in protein and calcium, which helps to build strong bones and teeth.
Until your baby is 12 months old, she should have only breastmilk or infant formula as her milk drink. After that, she can start drinking full-fat cow’s milk. As children in this age group are growing so quickly and need lots of energy, they need full-fat dairy products until they turn two.
What about protein? Protein is important for your child’s growth and muscle development. Foods with lots of protein include meat, fish, chicken eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and nuts. These foods also contain : iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids which are very useful .
Iron and omega-3 fatty acids (from red meat and oily fish) are particularly important for your child’s brain development and learning.
And what about healthy drinks?
Water is the healthiest drink for different age children. It’s also the cheapest. From six months, breastfed and formula-fed babies can have small amounts of cooled boiled tap water from a cup.
Healthy food tips for babies and toddlers
A lot of parents start thinking about introducing solids at about six months. You can introduce solids in any order. For example, you could try infant rice cereal, soft cooked vegetables and stewed or mashed fruit. Then you can move onto mashed foods like eggs, grains like wheat, cooked fish, pureed or minced meat, and more fruits and vegetables. You can also try tofu, beans, lentils, nut pastes and so on.
By 12 months, your baby can try most healthy foods that your family is eating, like fruits, vegetables, nuts (but as a paste to prevent choking), grains, cereal, meat, fish, chicken, egg, tofu, lentils, pasta, rice and bread.
Sometimes a baby doesn’t like one of the new foods we offer, no problem, let’s try it again some other time. Better to be ready that you might have to try lots of times before your baby accepts a new taste or texture.
Very often our toddlers are “not in love with food”. This can make mealtimes stressful, especially if you’re worried your toddler isn’t eating enough.
If your toddler seems to eat less than she used to, don’t worry. She needs less food because now she’s growing more slowly. But she does still need regular meals and snacks – three meals and several snacks every day.
It’s normal for toddlers’ appetites to vary a lot from day to day. The key thing to remember with toddlers is that you decide what foods to offer your child, and he decides how much to eat. Keep offering lots of variety from the main food groups, but try to limit sometimes foods as much as you can.
It’s also a good idea to wean your toddler off bottles and introduce her to a cup to avoid her having too much milk, which can make her less hungry for healthy meals.