Children’s nutrition education is one of the most important things to remember when it comes to your baby’s development. Several studies have been conducted on the food and nutrition of children.
According to these studies, more than half of the kids do not get sufficient nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. This is because of the changing food habits and lifestyles.
After six months, a child can get proper nutrition from both breast milk and complementary foods. However, the main problem arises when it comes to complementary feeding or weaning a young baby who is six months or older.
At this time, many new moms and dads find it difficult to know how much food they should give to their baby. What food should be provided and in what ways?
A parent’s decision to provide the best nutrition for their baby directly affects a child’s health. The type of food you give your young one will determine their immunity power, resistance power, intellectual development, etc.
Therefore, you must make sure that your child gets the proper nutrition. You need to know about all the important nutrients required by your little one for good health.
If you fail to do this job properly, there are chances of malnutrition. This may result in a poor growth rate, a weak immune system, and even death in extreme negligence cases.
So go ahead, parents!
Read this article which gives you some interesting dietary guidelines on good nutritional practices that you must follow for your child’s sake.
Keep the following things in mind while weaning a young baby:
Baby's First Complementary Healthy Meals
Complementary feeding refers to the process of providing your young one with the right types and right amount of foods that will help him gain proper nutrition.
Your baby’s first food should be iron-rich because their store of this vital mineral starts depleting once he is six months old. You can begin weaning by offering cereals like oats, millets, rice, and wheat.
Try making porridge with them and feed your baby in small amounts.
Do not feed your baby with anything other than cereals, fruit puree, or vegetables for the first few days. The reason is that these foods are easy to digest and can act as a source of instant energy for your little one.
Nutrition service providers say that more than 92% of mothers did not introduce cereals or fruits to their babies within the first six months.
Child care programs say that more than 39% of babies aged four to five months old do not receive fruit and vegetables daily.
Child care facilities advise introducing fruits and vegetables early because it is an essential element of a healthy diet. Fruits are natural sources of vitamin C which can prevent infections.
Children’s Nutrition Guide
Infants aged 0-3 months need breast milk only because their digestive system is still too weak to digest solid foods. In addition to this, their saliva glands are not yet fully active, which means that they cannot even taste the food.
Nutrition education is important for mothers. And pediatricians say that no single food item can provide all the nutrients required for a baby to grow healthily, so it is essential to introduce different foods into your child’s diet.
The digestive system aged between 3-6 months is strong enough to digest cereals and other starches but do not forget to make them soft before serving!
Still, breast milk must be their primary source of nutrition at this age because it has all the essential nutrients in a balanced ratio.
American Public Health Association suggested that breast milk be the only source of nutrition for babies in the first six months.
Food safety experts have also suggested that commercially produced baby formula be the primary source of nutrition in the first six months.
Federal child nutrition programs in the USA recommend that babies should be given fruits at two to six months old.
Nutrition education is vital for parents to ensure their children get a balanced diet.
When your child is 6-9 months old, you can start feeding them mashed bananas, watermelon, etc. Babies have started producing amylase at this age, an enzyme essential for digesting starches.
Children ages six months to a year should be introduced to the first non-milk/formula foods.
You can give bananas to infants since it is easily digestible. You can also try berries and other vitamin-C-rich fruits, which help your baby’s immune system.
9-12 months old:
Now your young one will be around eight months old. You should start giving them soft bread, mashed rice, and other suitable foods like bread, buttered toast, mashed vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc.
This will help your child get enough calories to meet their daily requirement of nutrients. However, make sure that your baby does not take too much food because you might end up overfeeding him.
1-2 years old:
There are many complementary foods available in the market for young children. You can start giving your young one mashed or chopped items like eggs, dry fruits, chicken, etc.
Choose and prepare foods with less salt. With lunch from home, you can enhance your child’s nutrition, ensuring they get the protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and calcium they need. Provide a varied and balanced diet that emphasizes minimally processed foods.
Whole grains are low in sugar which is beneficial. Federal child nutrition programs in the USA have launched a campaign to increase fruit and vegetable intake.
They say that children aged one to three should have unlimited fruit juice to meet their daily vitamin C requirement of 40 mg.
These foods will provide your child with proper nutrition because they are rich sources of minerals and vitamins. Gradually introduce 1-2 year-olds to nutritious, healthy meals that include bread, cereals, vegetables, pulses, and meat items.
Breast milk or infant formula must be the primary source of nutrition up to the age, but after that, you can shift your child towards cow’s milk because it contains more nutrients than any other type of milk available in the market today.
Healthcare professionals and parents usually introduce whole cow’s milk when transitioning from breast milk and baby formula. However, alternatives, such as goat’s milk, pea milk, soy milk, toddler formula, and bone broth, can provide different nutrients that can help in babies’ proper growth and development in their critical development stages.
If your baby has digestion sensitivity, goat’s milk is a great substitute for whole cow’s milk. Pea milk contains proteins and inflammatory seed oils. On the other hand, you can also find toddler formula free from soy, gluten, grains, genetically modified organisms (GMO), synthetic folic acid, and corn and rice syrup, perfect for babies with sensitive tummies.
In addition, bone broth is rich in amino acids and minerals. This nourishing beverage can help improve immunity and digestion. You can buy these alternatives online at Serenity Kids and other reputable baby food stores.
Your child may have turned two by now, but you need not stop offering them appropriate solid food items. Children do not eat too much at this age, so giving them small amounts of food is safe.
Just make sure that you offer your child a sufficient quantity of fresh fruit and vegetables as these foods provide essential vitamins and minerals.
Other Foods To Try
As babies grow, their nutritional needs increase. Toddlers generally need 1,000 to 1,400 calories daily, depending on their activity level, size, and age.
They need minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, and iodine. Moreover, children need supplements from six months to five years old with vitamins A, C, and D daily.
Hence, parents and caregivers must introduce different healthy foods, such as the following:
- Chopped Vegetables like broccoli
- Baby carrots
- Apple slices with fat-free dip
- Quesadilla wedges or veggie tortilla wraps with cheese, chicken or lean meat, and veggie slices
- Whole wheat bread
- Peanut butter
- Chopped dates
2 to 3 year-olds:
Your young one is now three years old, but still, they may not be able to eat as much as their friends can at this age. This is because the nutritional requirement of every child is different from others, and they mainly depend on their biological needs and activity levels.
Once your young one is three years old, they should be given nutritious food items like cereals (preferably whole grains), pulses, meat, eggs, etc.
These food items will help supply adequate calories to your child’s body because energy requirement increases with age.
Try to include fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet as much as possible; this is necessary not only for good healthy foods but also may prevent the chances of getting some childhood diseases.
This must be the most difficult time for you as a mother or father because it is very common that your child does not have healthy habits and will not like to eat certain foods, especially if they are at school!
Kids can be picky eaters but make sure to restrict sugary drinks as kids aged 7-12 tend to be drawn towards sodas and other unhealthy beverages. Healthy eating habits of this age group are crucial because they are growing bones and are mostly indulged in energy-consuming activities.
Ensure your kids have a healthy eating lifestyle.
If your child is in school, you can help promote healthy habits in several other ways. Avoid foods high in trans fats and saturated fats.
However, all you need is to provide them with healthy foods to focus on their studies instead of thinking about what they should eat next!
Special Considerations For Healthy Eating:
Below are the special considerations to ensure your baby is eating healthy:
- Take extra care when feeding babies six months or younger, i.e., before weaning them with appropriate solid food items; we suggest you consult a healthcare professional for this purpose.
- Breastfeeding should continue until two years of age or beyond if your child is willing.
- Try to feed your baby with nutritious food items rich in fibers, proteins, and energy.
- Ensure that you serve the right amount of food on every meal not to overfeed your baby.
- Offer low-fat dairy products like whole milk, curd, etc . at least five times a week to give your child enough calcium for their teeth and bones.
- Finally, make sure that your child eats at least two servings of fruits and vegetables every day because these foods are a great source of nutrients. Offer a mix of different colored vegetables each day, especially dark green and red and orange vegetables.
Healthy Recipes for Babies:
- For your 1-2-year-old, you can start with baby cereal, fruits, vegetables, and meat. You can even give cooked grains to your child every day so that he will get enough calories.
- Soak 2 tbsp of brown bread crumbs in water overnight, add one boiled egg yolk (optional) and some ghee (clarified butter), and blend all the ingredients into a smooth paste. Feed your child this mixture to introduce him to solids.
- If you want your children to develop strong teeth, crush 2-3 spoons of dry fruits (almonds, walnuts ) and peel off their skin; make a powdery mixture by grinding these ingredients together. Combine 1 tsp of apple sauce with 1/2 tsp of the ground mixture. Feed your baby with this fruit-powder mixture every day!
- Mix 5-6 teaspoons of wheat flour or rice flour in water to make a paste so that your child may eat it for lunch. This is the easiest way to introduce solids to small babies!
- We all know that breast milk is best suited for our children, but if you prefer to feed them with solid food, give them boiled cereal once they are six months old. Then start giving mashed vegetables and fruits at least three times a day because these foods are full of essential nutrients, just like mother’s milk.
Foods Not Recommended For Babies:
Nutrition education programs should educate parents regarding the importance of proper nutrition for a baby, specifically during the first 1,000 days.
You should avoid cola drinks and caffeinated soft drinks, though. So keep all the caffeinated beverages far away from your child; try to feed them with healthy food (un-caffeinated) juices and smoothies instead!
Another thing that you must take care of while feeding dairy products like cheese and yogurt to your babies. These nutritious foods are not homogenous, so don’t forget to stir them well before serving them. The high-fat content of these foods can lead to constipation in small children.
All in all, you need to understand that your child’s diet is essential because their future depends on their health.
To make your child grow up as a strong and healthy individual, you must encourage them to eat nutritious and healthy meals at least 3-4 times a day.
Nutrition education is an integral part of parenting because your child’s dietary habits will be shaped early.
Child care is an ideal place to teach children about nutrition because they eat meals with their teachers almost daily.
Teaching basic concepts like this will help you form healthy eating habits in your children. They would automatically start choosing nutritious foodstuffs instead of junk, which is really important for their health.
Please note: Always consult with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about introducing solid foods into your little one’s diet or transitioning from breast milk or formula milk to cow’s milk. This also includes any concerns about your children’s nutrition as a whole.
The information in this article is for informational purposes only & cannot substitute medical advice.
All Things Childcare strives to provide research-based information. While the contents of this article have been fact-checked, we encourage our readers to seek actual medical advice from health professionals.