Overcoming the Social Challenges of Parenting
Every parent wants to do the best they can for their child and when it comes to their health, one of the most important things you can do is provide a healthy, balanced diet. Good nutrition is essential for healthy growth and development and what a child eats in their early years can have a lasting effect on their health in later life, so during your child’s formative years you need to help them lay down the foundations for good health later in life.
The best way to make sure your child gets all the nutrients they need to be healthy is to ensure they eat a varied diet, with foods from each of the main food groups
It’s important to start good eating habits early in life as it can be much harder to change bad habits once your child is older
Although it’s never too early to begin thinking about a healthy diet, babies and young children have small stomachs and high energy and nutrient requirements. The healthy eating advice for adults is not appropriate for babies and small children because high fibre, low fat diets can make it difficult for them to eat enough to meet their nutritional needs
From about 9 months, your baby’s meal times can be adjusted to fit in with the normal family meals. Sharing family meals will allow your baby to enjoy social contact with the rest of the family and provides a good opportunity to learn social skills and table manners.
Up to the age of 12 months, babies are much more receptive to new tastes and new foods, so it’s important to use the opportunity to introduce a wide variety of foods which different tastes and textures
Food Allergies and intolerance
If you, your partner or your child’s sibling has asthma, eczema, a food allergy or intolerance, then your baby has a greater risk of suffering from the same condition. If you suspect your baby may be more likely to have an allergy, you should make sure that the first foods you introduce into your baby’s diet are low allergenic foods, these include rice, potatoes, green vegetables, apple, pear, banana and stone fruit. Once weaning is well established you can then start to introduce foods which are more likely to cause problems. These include:
Dairy products – cow’s milk, yogurt, fromage frais, cheese
Wheat and gluten
Fish and shellfish
Foods containing sulphite preservatives – eg jellies and some drinks
These foods should be introduced one at a time and you should and continue with each new food for two or three days before you introduce another so that you can monitor any reaction. It is important that food allergies and intolerances are properly diagnosed by medical qualified person so if you are concern that your child is developing a food allergy or intolerance do seek appropriate medical diagnosis as soon as possible.
By Fiona Hunter, Nutritionist