by Yara Gholmie, RD
Until the age of 6 months babies can obtain all the nutrients they require from breastmilk or formula. After this time a combination of different foods is needed to supply their needs.
It is best to continue breastfeeding while weaning your child by 6 months, but not before 4 months. Your baby will learn new tastes and textures as you offer new foods, and will learn new feeding skills by handling those diverse textures. Some babies need more practice to handle new textures, and some need to be fed new foods in small quantities on several days before they can get accustomed to their taste. So keep offering foods, even if your baby seems to reject them at first. Always allow them to decide when they are full, babies will keep their mouth shut or turn their head signalling they have had enough. Don't force feed!
Don't forget to include your baby at family meals, as infants start observing and imitating their parents or siblings, offer them foods they can touch and taste ( such as finger foods- see previous post- why do you offer Finger Foods from 6 to 12 months?)
A healthy balanced diet for babies, children and adults can be achieved by dividing the foods we eat into five groups and then combining them in certain proportions. As long as proportions of the different food groups are given to the child, the portion of the serving does not need to be defined. Children's portion sizes start small and increase as they grow.
The five groups are:
- Bread, cereals and potatoes
- Fruit and vegetables
- Milk and dairy
- Meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses
- Foods high in fat and sugar (oils, butter, margarine, and sugar, sweets, biscuits, cakes, etc.)
A child meal would be composed of:
• 1/3 meat/fish/ pulses/egg/ nuts
• 1/3 bread/ cereal/ potato/ rice/ pasta
• 1/3 vegetables
A child pudding, dessert, or snack would include:
• Yogurt/ custard/ milk pudding and a fruit