Nutrition for your growing baby:
Feeding your baby healthy food from the start is so important to ensure a strong immune system, proper development and maximising learning.
The first year of life requires a full range of important nutrients, including fats, protein, cholesterol, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. By giving your children healthy food right from the beginning you are putting them on a healthy path for the future.
Eating finger foods are good for hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor control. Nutri-kids offers a selection of finger foods (8 months +) and you can also give the following:
- Slightly steamed veggies – can serve these with hummus. Babies love to dip
- Brown unsalted rice cakes with hummus
- Homemade fruit/smoothie lollies
- Cucumber sticks (without the skin)
- Raw pieces of soft fruits
- Pieces of cooked chicken, cubed firm fish, small pieces of cheese
- Unsulphured dried fruit (10 months +)
- Biltong (10 months +)
It is important to give finger foods at this stage but you may be worried that more of the food is going on the floor than in his mouth. You could have a small bowl of food which you could feed your baby in between him eating the finger foods.
Some babies go through a finger food stage and prefer finger foods to mashed/ chopped food in a bowl so by doing the above also helps for this stage. Don’t be scared of choking, as long as someone is watching him at all times and the finger food is appropriate for his age it will be fine.
This is a very exciting time as baby can start to eat a lot more variety. Your baby should now be on 3 meals a day and healthy foods will take over milk as his primary source of nutrition. He should still be getting about 600ml of milk during the day until the age of 1. Don’t forget to give textured food as much as possible now. Nutri-Kids offer a large selection of meals for this stage. All balanced with protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. You can add any of our textured single puree cubes for extra nutrients.
Dairy can also be introduced at this stage such as cottage cheese, hard cheeses and cream. Choose the best possible dairy you can find, one that doesn’t contain preservatives and colourants. Most health stores have great selections.
Carry on with the raw foods as they are excellent especially avo as it contains essential healthy fats. Nutri-Kids has a large selection of single fruit and veggie purees so give them as much variety as possible. You can also start including some protein. Meat is an excellent first food too as it contains essential fats and is also high in Iron but ensure you have tried majority of the veggies first before starting the mixed meat, chicken and fish dishes. Your babies iron stores start to run low from about 6 months so it is important to include some iron-rich foods. Meat, green leafy vegetables, unsulphured dried fruit purees and whole lentils are all good sources of iron.
Only give cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage) once a day at this stage as they may cause your baby to have stomach cramps and rather at lunch time than at dinner.
Grains such as quinoa, millet and brown rice can be introduced – wait until the age of 1 to give wheat.
All our purees are frozen in cubes for your convenience. Just choose a selection, defrost, heat in a pot until warmed through and serve to your baby. The cubes enable you to mix and match so they don’t get used to the same flavour, creating lots of different tastes and textures at every meal preventing fussiness later. Don’t forget to push with textured food as soon as possible.
Foods to avoid at this stage:
Wheat, dairy, oats, potato, tomato, peppers and citrus fruit
When starting your baby on solids, start with single veggies and fruits. Gem squash, butternut, sweet potato, carrots and courgettes are perfect first foods. So when starting one of these foods give 1 to 2 tsp of butternut for the first 3 days. If there is no sign of allergy/intolerance move on to the next one. After these you could then try any of Nutri-Kids single purees (6m+). By doing this 3 day waiting rule you will be able to see whether your baby is sensitive/allergic to a particular food. Signs of possible sensitivity/allergy could be runny/congested nose, skin rashes, dark rings under the eyes, and creases in the bottom eyelids, red ears /recurrent ear infections, constipation, colic, hyperactivity, sleep changes, excessive wind, respiratory problems or eczema. If you notice a change in your baby after introducing a new food, stop giving that food and introduce another new food once the reaction has died down. You can re-introduce that food that was causing problems a few months later when his digestive system is more mature.
From about 5 months you could start introducing some raw fruit or vegetables such as avocado, mango and paw paw. Raw foods are a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fibre and water. Mashed banana can be given to mature and very hungry babies. It is a lovely first food as it contains amylase enzymes to digest carbohydrates.
Milk is still very important at this stage so please do not stop breastfeeding/bottle feeding
Texture is also incredibly important. If they start solids at 4 months they will prefer smooth pureed food but do not wait too long to move them on to more textured food. The longer you wait the more chance of them becoming fussy. The earlier you get your baby to start trying textured food the easier the transition will be to eating whole foods so persevere and don’t give up.
At around 4 to 6 months milk alone will not be able to provide all these essential nutrients and you will need to rely more on healthy food choices
How to tell when baby is ready for solids:
- Wakes more frequently at night
- Demands more milk after feeds
- Starts teething
- Shows interest in the food you are eating
- Birth weight doubled
Every baby is different so please speak to your clinic or paed about when it’s best for your baby to start solids. I do feel it is best not to start solids too early as this could put a strain on your baby’s immature digestive system, increasing their chance of developing allergies.
Best time to start is about 2 hours after a milk feed when baby is not too hungry or too full. Lunchtime is usually the best time to introduce food for the first time because if your baby reacts to a food you would rather it happen in the day than in the middle of the night. Never force feed, you may have try a food a few times before your baby starts to enjoy it.
Each different colour veggie or fruit provides different nutrients so include as much variety in their diet as possible.
Most people know that breastfeeding is best for your baby but a mother’s milk is only as good as her diet. Healthy breast milk is perfectly designed for baby’s physical and mental development, but this is only true when mom supplies her body with the right nutrients. Today’s typical diet is filled with products containing sugar, white flour, preservatives, unsaturated fats and oils, which do not nourish mom or her growing baby.
The following nutrients are necessary for healthy breast milk and for baby:
- Good quality proteins from healthy free range/organic meat
- Good quality fats from healthy meats, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, cod liver oil and egg yolks
- Complex carbohydrate-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains and legumes
So when breastfeeding try and stick to seasonal wholefoods and minimise processed food.
Ideally, breastfeeding should be maintained for a year, with a goal of at least 6 months. Breast milk contains antibodies and other substances that are not found in formula milk and these offer your baby protection against infections and allergies.
There are more nutrients in breast milk and they are more easily absorbed. Breast milk also contains beneficial flora (friendly bacteria) that will help to keep your babies’ digestive system healthy, boost immunity and helps prevent colic and eczema.
Unfortunately not everyone can breastfeed due to low milk supply, adoption, mom being unwell etc. so speak to your clinic or us for milk alternatives.