Food can seem really complicated when it comes to our babies and toddlers.
Sometimes it is easier said than done but keep it simple with as much fresh food as possible – keeping the junk and processed food to a minimum – and don’t panic if they don’t want to eat much.
From about 6 months old, babies will start to eat solid food whether it is pureed, mashed or just soft food in addition to their milk. Remember, food at this age is all about exploring and play – your baby still needs calories from milk – so let them eat with their hands, let them make a mess and try not to make a fuss over food.
First foods from about 6 months old can include:
- Baby rice
- Cooked apple
- Pear, banana, peach
- Fingers of toast or pitta bread
- Cooked pasta shapes
- Mashed potato, carrot, sweet potato, parsnip
- Cooked broccoli
To begin with food is about exploration – taste, textures, learning to chew. Try not to stress about how much they are eating, see this stage as them learning how to eat solid food.
- Remember – your baby needs breast milk or formula milk until they are one. After that they can drink full fat cows milk, although you can add it to their food from 6 months old.
After your baby is one, they may want to eat more meals and snacks. It is still about keeping it simple and keeping it healthy.
Good foods – meals and snacks
I am a big fan of eating together as a family as much as possible, especially for the evening meal. Your toddler doesn’t need a different dinner to you – they can have some of what you are having. Whether it is some chicken and cooked vegetables or spaghetti bolognaise.
The only thing you need to make sure of is no added salt especially to sauces.
A lot of parents say eating together actually makes them think about food, about wanting to eat as freshly as possible and cooking from scratch so they are all eating healthily.
Light meals and snacks
- Carrot sticks, cucumber sticks
- Banana, peach, kiwi fruit
- Toast fingers
- Pitta bread
- Little sandwiches
- Rice cakes
- Pasta shapes
- Pieces of fish, chicken
- Scrambled egg
- Raisins – when you are confident your toddler can eat them safely
Foods to avoid
- Whole nuts
- Soy sauce
- Artificial sweeteners
- Low fat foods
- Honey – before the age of one
- Sugary and/or fizzy drinks
For more information: www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/foods-to-avoid-baby.aspx#close
And by that I mean things like biscuits, crisps, chips, burgers, pizza, chocolate, sweets, ice cream, sweet drinks, fizzy drinks…
Standard advice is keep these to a minimum. Advice as a mum is to hold off introducing these for as long as possible because toddlers love them and often prefer them to fruit and veg, so it can make life easier for you to hold off for as long as possible.
Keep it simple and safe:
- Healthy food
- Eat together so they can feel included, learn from you and eat some of your food
- No salt or too much sugar
- Don’t get stressed about food – your baby and toddler will eat when they are ready and they might not like certain foods – go at their pace and let them explore
- Don’t leave your baby on his own with food
Make positive eating habits
These could include:
- Healthy snacks rather than sweets, crisps or cake
- Eating together
- Giving water rather than juice
- Keep offering different food so they get to try different things
- Being led by them – if they are full, don’t make them finish their plate
You can also book onto a weaning workshop, which runs at the Birth, Baby & Family Centre every month
Link: Birth & Baby Network Your Growing and Baby and Toddler Pages
Written by Janine Rudin | Birth, Baby & Family
A specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting