New-born (0-1 year)
In the first 6 months breastfeeding provides all the adequate nutrients for your baby’s growth and development. The timing and the choice of food depending on the age of your baby (in months) is therefore crucial.
Word of caution!
Toddler years (age 1-3)
Children encounter their affection to food between the ages of 1-3 (toddler years). During this period their behaviour and attitude towards certain types of foods may become permanent throughout their lives. Therefore, parents have an important task in hand to ensure their child forms an appropriate habit of eating variety of nutritional products.
A transition from breastfeeding to solid foods can sometimes be tougher than it looks, as toddlers may refuse to try a new taste. As a parent, you must therefore set a good example, avoid forcing them to eat, and show that you are genuinely concerned about their choice of foods. Too much pressure can sometimes backfire and may even lead to unintentional consequences, such as stubbornness in the child, decreased appetite, or hate against foods.
Often parents worry too much about their child’s appetite and complain about the amount of food they consume. You cannot expect a toddler to eat as much as an adult. Since the volume of their stomach is small, the amount of nutrients to take in should also be small. Also the way how kids are fed is also an important factor, let them be messy, and dive in with their fingers, after all it is part of the learning experience.
When a baby is out of the breastfeeding period, it is necessary to adjust the consistency of the food, since it cannot start eating solid foods, e.g., at first solid foods should be smooth in texture, and later blended using a spoon. Most babies like to start with mashed foods. The objective is to introduce the food to your child and for them to get used to new flavours and ways of eating food. A typical child at this age begins to learn to do things for themselves and wants to achieve more independently. You’ll notice a sharp increase in physical activity.
The amount of food consumed each day may vary, so there is no need to be overly protective and be harsh against your child. Be patient and calm, and note that the growth of your child will be slower compared to their first years. Offer food in small sizes and encourage them to eat themselves, so that they can practice feeding. Pieces about the size of your finger should be adequate. Make sure not to leave your child on their own while eating, in case of choking.
What Foods To Give?
Due to increase in physical activity, calcium and protein intake is very important for muscle and bone development. For this reason, dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese can be helpful, around 2.5 portions per day should be sufficient, which is approximately one glass of milk, a bowl of yoghurt and few pieces of cheese. Drinking too much milk in a day could also lead to inadequate intake of other foods. Balanced diet applies to kids too.
The second group of essential nutrients are B vitamins and high levels of Iron (Fe) found in meat (e.g. chicken, red meat, and beans). Starting with half a portion per day, with a view of increasing in steps of 1-1.5 portion as and when needed (as your child grows). For example, an egg can be given every day (high in protein), and increase the amount of meat offered on days where egg is not given. In addition, your child must also consume vegetables, fruits and grains on a daily basis. By grains we mean products like wheat, barley, corn, oats, rye and rice. Vegetable and fruit should be consumed 1-1.5 portions per day, and the daily recommended grain intake is around 2-2.25 portions.
In the early years, all food groups should be given in small quantities and gradually increased as your child grows.