Healthy eating habits start with you and what you choose to feed your baby. Get it right early, and you’ve set your little one up for the future, writes dietician Tammy Wolhuter.
Why is a balanced diet full of nutrients important?
Optimal health and wellness are promoted by adopting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals and their products, with adequate amounts of low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean, protein-rich foods such as skinless chicken, fat-trimmed meat and fish.
Nuts, seeds and olive oil are also an essential component of a healthy diet and should be used in moderation.
A healthy, balanced diet should provide a variety of different foods to provide all the nutrients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients necessary to promote growth, health and prevent deficiencies or illnesses in children.
Aim to feed your baby these five foods every week:
Yogurt is a dairy product and is, therefore, a good source of calcium, important for the bone and teeth development of your growing child. Yoghurt also provides a good source of protein, important for muscle development as well as immunity.
Besides, yoghurt provides a source of probiotics, which help to improve the “good” bacteria in intestines, aiding in digestion and even immunity.
Give your child fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines and pilchards provide Omega-3 fatty acids, which are required for brain development.
Rapid brain development takes place up until two years of age, where sensory, perceptual, cognitive and motor neural systems development occurs too.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also shown to improve symptoms of attention deficit disorder. So, make sure you pack in the required two servings of fatty fish each week.
Oats is a slow-releasing carbohydrate food, which means it will help control appetite and energy levels. Being a whole grain oat is high in fibre, particularly soluble (functional) fibre and helps to keep bowel movements regular.
Oats also provides a source of other beneficial micronutrients, such as manganese, selenium, vitamin B1 and vitamin B3.
Carrots contain beta carotene, which helps to improve night vision, so tell your kids that carrots do help them see in the dark! Carrots also provide fibre and are usually a popular vegetable among kiddies.
You can prepare them in many different ways, for example, puréed carrot for your 6-month-old baby, grated carrot salad, baby carrots to snack on or cooked carrot rings as part of a meal.
Bananas are nature’s ideal snack as they are filling, tasty and conveniently wrapped. It’s a nutritious fruit high in potassium, which is a vital mineral for muscle and nerve function. Bananas are a source of fibre, which helps to prevent constipation or diarrhoea.
Bananas can also add variety to meals, for example, added to smoothies and sandwiches and puréed for babies or in a fruit salad.
Share your stories and questions with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com. Anonymous contributions are welcome.