3 food principles for a healthy baby.
As a new mom, it can be quite comforting to know that for the first 6 months, your baby only needs breast milk (ideally) or formula. The fact that you won’t have to plan out nutritious meals can help ease you into new motherhood.
However, after 6 months, a baby's nutritional needs exceed what they can get from milk feeds. Experts say it’s ideal to start your baby on solids at around six months, as babies are still developing their digestive system. Starting on solids too early could possibly have implications for nutrition balance and allergies. That’s when some planning and thought must be put in to create healthy meals for your little one, even though breast milk or formula will be a considerable part of their diet up till 12 months of age.
Here are some rules that will help you to do just that, without confusing you too much.
The 3 basic principles of a good diet for you and your little one are -
- Unprocessed food
These helps ensure that a diet is nutritionally sound and can be applied to all age groups.
- Variety in a diet refers to eating a variety of food groups. It also means having variety within a food group.
- By providing your little one with a wide array of foods from the same food group, you can increase the number of nutrients they are eating; for example, two diverse types of fruit a day.
- A great, effortless way to ensure variety is to check that there is a good range of colors in the diet. For example, red fruits and berries (an excellent source of vitamin C), green and yellow vegetables (high in vitamin A), wholegrain and brown bread (high in zinc), white meat (providing protein and iron), dairy (for calcium and riboflavin) and so on.
- It’s best to select food from a wide variety of sources each day. Diets that exclude one or more food groups are associated with an increased risk of many diseases, but also remember that it isn't necessary to eat from each food group at every meal.
- By eating and giving your child a little of all sorts of foods, you can dilute your exposure to problem food components, potentially reducing the risk of your body reacting negatively to them!
- You must always try to introduce new foods and meals to your child right throughout their lives.
- And to foods made from whole products; for example, wholegrain bread contains the goodness of entire grain; similarly with whole bean soy drinks.
- A good diet should rely primarily on food that is wholesome and resembles, as far as possible, its original state.
- This ensures that your diet is rich in important nutrients and will also limit any possible contamination.
- There’s a reason for nature packaging food in a certain way! Eating wholesome fruits and vegetables can benefit your health, and in turn benefit your baby as well.
3. Unprocessed foods
- Ideally, a diet shouldn't rely too much on processed food such as pre-prepared food, fast-food, processed meat (sausages and salami), biscuits, cakes, chocolates, savory biscuits, chips and so on.
- Generally, the less processed a food is, the greater its nutrient content. Furthermore, the less a food is processed, the fewer preservatives, colors, flavors and additives it may contain.
- However, given the advanced processing techniques used today, there is an increasing range of frozen and pre-prepared produce that may be quite nutritious.
With all the numerous guides on how much a baby should eat and drink, it’s easy to get hung-up on figures. But you must always remember: your baby's growth and development cannot be limited to what the guides have to say. As long as you follow these 3 simple rules, and your baby is showing consistent growth and regular bowel habits, you’re doing a great job!