Nutrition: from first foods to toddler time

Mother feeding baby
Mother feeding baby

Your baby’s healthy eating journey starts in the womb gulping amniotic fluid, continues when exploring a variety of flavours that influence your breastmilk, and into the exciting milestone of introducing solids for the first time. Part of this journey means that moms should continually offer new tastes, textures, and flavours as we expose our children to the wonderful world of healthy eating.

First Foods

From 6 months, milk is no longer enough to meet your growing baby’s energy and nutrient needs and solid foods are introduced. There is a lot of confusion as to which first food you should give your baby. In fact, there is no one universally accepted food. The best food to start with is one that is culturally acceptable and familiar to the family. Traditionally this may be a soft porridge like rice porridge or maize porridge, but other options may be puréed vegetables like sweet potato, butternut, or carrots, or pureed and strained fruits like apples. It is however recommended that the first food that is not an allergen, such as wheat cereal (gluten), yoghurt (cow’s milk), or egg.

The Squish range of 100% fruit and veg purees gives parents a variety of options to choose from when first introducing solids. With no preservatives, flavourings, colourants or starch, you can use single flavours of Squish puree (Like Apple and Pear) to introduce baby to tastes and textures and when they are ready, you can slowly add more complex combinations of Squish puree flavours.  

When first introducing solids, start by adding breast or formula milk to help your baby recognise a flavour that they are used to. Offer this food for about three days before moving on to another food or changing the flavour in the food. For example, if your baby likes pumpkin, mix with some pureed apple or a sprinkle of cinnamon. There is no need to introduce just one food at a time and there is no truth to having to stagger when you introduce foods, such as vegetable firsts, then fruits, then meat. You can mix first foods such as a sweet potato and carrot puree or oats and apple puree to offer new tastes, textures, and flavour dimensions. At first, you will puree your baby’s food into a thin, consistent texture. Start to challenge your baby with new textures from early on. For example, allow a few lumps when mashing sweet potato or mash foods with the back of a fork instead of a blender, but ensure that the lumps are small to avoid choking.

Toddler Time

Your baby is considered a toddler from 12 months. At this point, very little pureeing (if any) is needed. Even if your baby does not have teeth, baby will chew food using the gums. Compared to the first year of life, your baby’s growth will slow down dramatically, and consequently so too may your baby’s appetite, so smaller but more frequent meals and snacks may be needed. Let your baby’s appetite guide you as to how much to feed, and have the peace of mind that your baby will be eating a nutritious and balanced diet by offering a variety of foods from all food groups throughout the day such as carbohydrates (e.g. fruit, vegetables, wholegrain/ high fibre bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat couscous, oats), protein (e.g. fish, chicken, lean red meat, eggs, dairy, lentils, beans and chickpeas), and healthy fats (e.g. avocado and olive oil). 

As the brain continues to grow and develop, a vital skill is the ability to self-feed in gross motor development. Encourage self-feeding from early on. You could offer one self-fed meal per day (such as a cheese and spinach omelette or fish cakes) and the other meals are fed by the caregiver, or feed your baby most of a meal and allow room for self-feeding afterwards (such as serving a tuna and tomato pasta followed by a self-fed homemade bran and apple muffin).

Assuming the family meals and healthy, balanced, and nutritious, your baby should be eating with the family with only small adaptations, such as no added salt. Young toddlers tend to eat dinner early between 5 – 6pm, often before the family meal. Serve your toddler dinner and afterwards allow them to sit in a highchair and self-feed while the family has a meal. On weekends, your toddler can self-feed while the whole family sits around the table for lunch. This is an important time to set the scene for healthy eating habits and allow your baby to watch you eat a variety of foods.

For a convenient way to get your baby or child to enjoy fruit and veg, why not try Squish?

Squish offers a range of 100% fruit and veg purees and pressed 100% fruit and veg juices. The convenient pouches are well-loved amongst mommies, and are perfect for baby from the first introduction of solids, right through the weaning process - from babies to toddlers and beyond. Squish provides delicious tasting convenience, whether at home or on the go, and is preservative free, colourant free and flavourant free with no added starch.

Squish 100% fruit and veg puree and juice flavours give parents a broader range of taste options for even the fussiest of eaters, right from the first introduction of solids through to a full meal, or tasty snack.

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