MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH
What kids need as part of a healthy diet changes through the ages and stages of infant, baby and toddler. What doesn’t change is the fact that starting good eating habits early is the best way to ensure that your kids will maintain them throughout their lives.
As kids develop, from infant to toddler, their nutritional needs change and evolve too. When they start eating solid food, you will find out quickly that certain textures and flavors of foods either go over well or don’t go in at all!
Feeding infants and babies under 6 months old
This is the easy stage, really! Whether they are having breast milk, formula or some combination of the two, infants and young babies don’t need any other supplementation (unless advised by a physician). Even in hot climates, they get enough hydration from their feeds that water can be superfluous.
When do babies start solid foods?
Babies can start solids at about 6 months old. In the early stages, solid foods consist of baby cereal and mashed foods (vegetables, fruits, meats). Their main source of nutrition is still breast milk and/or formula.
The introduction of solid foods at this stage serves a couple of purposes:
– Getting baby used to eating solid foods.
– Getting baby used to different flavors and textures.
– Expanding the range of things baby will eat.
TIP: It’s tempting to start mashed foods with sweet tasting fruits; after all, most babies like it and will eat it happily. You MIGHT want to start with something in the meat or vegetable line. Also, introduce new solids when baby is hungry. There is no point trying to get them to eat strained peas when they’re already full from a breastfeed or bottle feed.
Introducing your toddler to new foods
At about age 1, your baby will start to gain more nutrition from sources other than breast milk. While many parents choose to continue breastfeeding for a while yet, your child should be eating solids and be introduced to milk at this point. Calcium is vital to growing bones, and unless they can’t stomach it (milk allergy, lactose intolerance), milk is a great transition from formula. Whole milk, in particular, contains the fats they still need, as well as the calcium and protein their bodies are craving.
As to new foods, you can start providing your toddler with finger foods like dry cereal (Cheerios), cut fruit and vegetables, yogurt and so on. They don’t have teeth, or not many, but they can mash their way through a lot of options at age one and above.
Feeding babies can be an exercise in endurance for parents, but tools like bblüv’s Platö Warm Feeding Plate is ideal! The dish has a sealed compartment with a safety cap to which you can add hot water, which will keep the food warm even if it takes a while for baby to decide to eat it!
Of course, toddlers are also learning to speak and, not surprisingly, one of the first words they learn is “no”. The trick at that point is to allow your child some measure of control: it’s your job to provide the food; it becomes their job to eat it. You can make that more interesting by providing them with the tools to enjoy eating.
Kids as young as 13 months will be interested in using utensils, so make the presentation of their supper as palatable as possible with kid friendly plates and spoons, like bblüv’s Miäm Silicone Plate and Spoon Set. With a built-in suction base, kiddo can’t drop the plate on the floor and the perfectly sized spoon makes it easier for them to start to learn to feed themselves.
Do you have a picky eater?
As children get older, their tastes will change. What they liked one day will be on the list of things they hate the next. Ultimately, it’s best to expose them to a range of healthy foods, flavors and textures to see what they enjoy and what doesn’t go down very well.
Remember that small children have heightened taste buds: what might taste bland to an adult might almost be spicy to a child. Some kids also have objections to certain foods, based purely on the texture. While most toddlers love mashed potatoes, for example, some can’t stand them because of the texture.
If you worry about having a picky eater, know that their tastes will change a lot over the first few years and you need to be patient and encourage them to eat new foods by re-introducing them again and again. A picky eater might refuse something up to 15 times before even trying a mouthful!
Snacking is okay, as long as it’s healthy
Small children enjoy snacking and need to eat more frequently than adults do, so if you’re on the go with your little one, having healthy snacks at the ready is important and will prevent you from stopping at a coffee shop for a little something full of fat and sugar!
Using a container like bblüv’s Döse Multipurpose Stackable Containers allows you to bring different snacks along that your child will enjoy. With three compartments that are easy to clean and even easier to take along with you, you’ll never be caught short without a nibble!
At every age and stage, kids have varying nutritional needs but by staying on top of it and watching what they enjoy, what they don’t and figuring out ways to make the food palatable and even a little fun, you’re well on your way to building a healthy lifestyle for your child!