This month, let’s talk about food and how it helps fuel development in your child. Teaching your children and adolescents how to eat “properly” from an early age is really very important to promote healthy growth and development. Each food group has different nutritional values which help your child grow and develop. That it why it’s so very important to eat a range of food across all food groups. When moving from breast or formula milk, it takes time to adjust and introduce different foods from all food groups, starting your baby on solids is the very first step, and once they are eating solids you can start to include a variety of foods in each meal. Firstly, ALWAYS listen to the advice of your child’s medical professional and do not give them anything they are allergic to or have an intolerance for.
Fruits and vegetables help give your child lots of energy, vitamins, fibre, water and anti-oxidants. Fruit & veg help to protect your child against disease in later life. You can offer your baby fruit and vegetables at each meal, as well as for snacks. When starting out there are also little devices you can purchase in sotres made of mesh which help your child to smoosh the food and make it safer for them to consume. Try introducing them to fruit and veg of different colours and textures, give them fresh as well as cooked options so that they can get used to different sensations. Always remember to wash the fruit and veg in water to remove any nasties, and leave the skin on if you can because there’s lots of yummy nutrients in them too. Your child may not like some fruits and vegies, but that’s okay because no one likes every fruit and veggie (the writer is not a fan of brussels sprouts or cabbage, for example), but if they see YOU eating something you enjoy, they’ll inevitably want to try it too.
Grainy foods, or carbohydrates, such as rice, barley, wheat, corn, cereals, oats, and pasta will give your child lots of energy which they also need to learn, grow, and develop. If you give them something that is a low gycaemic index food (Low G-I) like wholegrain pasta, bread, or cereals, it will give them a slower release of energy which lasts longer and makes them feel fuller.
Dairy foods can be introduced to your child’s diet at around 6 months of age, however it’s recommended that you use breast or formula milk as their main source of drink until around 12 months of age. After that, they should be able to drink full-fat cow’s milk (unless they have an allergy). Ket dairy foods are things such as milk, cheese and yogurt and they are high in calcium as well as protein. Children grow so quickly that they need lots of energy and full-fat dairy products can definitely help with that. It is a suggested recommendation that they eat lots of this until they are at least 2 years old.
The Iron and omega-3 fatty acids found in red meat and oily fish are important of your child’s brain development and learning. Protein rich foods include lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and nuts. Protein rich foods contain useful vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron, vitamin B12 (brain growth and development) and omega-3 fatty acids.
The healthiest drink you can give your growing child is water. From about 6 months of age, you can start to give your child small amounts of cooled boiled tap water out of a cup. It is recommended that you avoid giving your child sweet drinks like fruit juice, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured waters, soft drinks, and flavoured milk. This is because they are generally high in sugar and low in nutrients. Sugar is good for a quick hit of energy, but the comedown is quite horrendous and can lead to temper tantrums and irritability. Additionally, really try to avoid drinks containing caffeine as it is a stimulant which means it gives artificial energy. Caffeine can also, reportedly, stop the body from absorbing calcium well. Caffeine rich foods include things like coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate.
You should try to avoid giving your child too many “sometimes” foods. These are things like chicken nuggets, burgers, hop chips, potato chips, pizza, cakes, chocolates, ice-cream, lollies, biscuits and pastries. We’re not saying to NEVER indulge them, just keep them as an occasional treat. Why? These foods are proven to be high in sugars, saturated fats, and salt. They’re also low in nutritional value, leading to a risk of conditions such as childhood obesity or type-2 diabetes. Moderation is key.
Snacks are great between meals but try to make sure that they’re healthy. It’s the same as dessert at the end of a meal, opt for sliced fruit or yogurt as they’re the most health options and provide that sweet taste we all like. For a special treat, try something like homemade banana bread, zucchini slice, or carrot cake. Save the really sweet stuff as a special treat for a special occasion like birthdays.
At Angel’s Paradise, we believe in promotion healthy nutritional options for young minds and bodies.