We all hope that our little ones will grow to become happy and healthy adults. Yet to avoid many problems like obesity, heart disease and diabetes a healthy diet is essential. How can parents help babies to start eating healthily even when little? Here’s a few ideas*:
- Don’t rush into solids. While not specifically about healthy eating, it’s important to remember that the NHS recommends starting solids (and in very small quantities) when babies are around 6 months old. Prior to this milk provides the nutrients they need, and babies take time to develop so that they can cope with solid foods.
- Make fruit and vegetables exciting! Babies learning how to coordinate their muscles often makes eating solid things a challenge, and inevitably ends with lots of mess. But soft fruit or veg can be made into very handy sticks that they can grasp easily. Eating is much more fun for babies when it involves touching, holding and exploring.
- Keep off the sugary drinks. Many parents go to enormous efforts to avoid unhealthy solid foods that could be harmful to their little ones. But avoid sugary drinks is often a far greater challenge and unfortunately, that includes fruit juice. While fruit juice can provide useful vitamins for your baby, the amount of sugar is unsuitable for babies under a year old and can cause tooth decay if consumed throughout the day. Stick to milk and water for as long as possible.
- Help them become adventurous, not fussy eaters. Fussy eaters often lose out on many important nutrients so try to add a variety of flavours of textures into your infant’s diet. Look for foods that will provide good protein and iron, such as fish (without bones), spinach and beans. Avoid the trap of only giving your child sweet fruit and vegetables, things like broccoli are not only very beneficial for brain development, but they will help your baby avoid developing a sweet tooth early on.
- Set the example! A challenge for parents, but worth the effort. For better or worse, your child will likely end up with similar eating habits to you. So try your best to avoid eating things they are not allowed to eat in front of them. You might even find that setting an example in healthy eating does your health no end of good!
*All tips in this article are in line with NHS guidelines. For more ideas and advice, we recommend going directly to the NHS website.