One of the best ways to introduce your baby to a variety of healthy foods and to discourage fussy eating is to encourage her to eat family food. So pull up her chair, and start encouraging healthy eating alongside the whole family.
Does it matter if my baby has tastes of foods that aren’t
recommended until later—such as a little of my biscuit with butter, or
It is now believed that there is no value in delaying the introduction of allergenic foods beyond six months .
Unless your little one has in the past shown a reaction to butter,
milk, and all dairy products, as well as eggs, meat, and nuts, these
foods can be introduced to your baby from around six months onward.
The most important
thing is that your baby is given something on which he won’t choke, and
that it is nutritious and healthy. Ice cream is not particularly
healthy, unless you choose good-quality dairy brands, which may prove
too rich for your baby, and are also very high in sugar. You can make
healthier alternatives; freeze bananas , make fresh fruit popsicles, or add fruit purée to plain yogurt.
Are there any staple foods that you would recommend we take with us when we go on a family vacation?
It’s always difficult to know what might be available when you
head to different destinations, and it can help to have a few
tried-and-tested, healthy food options on hand, particularly if you have
access to a kitchen.
Rice and baby rice, as
well as small pasta shapes, are a good start, because you can blend them
with local fruits and vegetables to provide a nutritious and
substantial meal. Look out for good-quality breads, and offer these with
some dried fruit, fruit juice, local cheeses (as long as they are
pasteurized), yogurt, and even nice cuts of meat or fish.
Sometimes little ones
can be fussy, so if your baby has a favorite purée, bring it along in
jarred form to save trouble if your baby refuses local foods. A few
finger foods, such as rice cakes, boxes of dried fruits, and even
healthy “snacks,” such as carrot or tomato snacks (usually found in the
organic baby section), can help to eke things out if your baby really
doesn’t like the taste of something she is offered. However, at the same
time, use your vacation to introduce her to new foods, and try to
encourage her to try new things.
Is it too early to teach table manners?
Babies can learn rudimentary table manners, such as washing their
hands before eating (part of the pre-dinner routine), sitting in their
seats until the meal has finished (no more than 20 minutes for
youngsters, or you will have a battle on your hands), and not throwing
their food. That isn’t to say that they will adopt these “manners”
instantly, but with constant repetition and reinforcement they will
become a habit.
My parents are continually offering “junk” food to my baby; how
can I persuade them not to, particularly when he likes them?
Unfortunately, many foods that are considered to be “treats” also
fall into the junk food category. Your parents are simply trying to
please your baby, and to give him what they think will make him happy,
and there is nothing wrong with that in principle. What you need to do
is to explain that your baby is perfectly happy with healthy
alternatives, such as rice cakes, dried fruits, yogurts, cheese, and
home-made cookies, for example. If he doesn’t develop a taste for sweet,
fatty, or salty foods in the early years, he’ll be less likely to
demand them later on.
You could mention the
fact that children offered inappropriate foods in the early days are
more likely to develop unhealthy eating patterns that can lead to them
being overweight. You could also save a few “healthy” treats to be
offered only during periods when grandparents are around, making them
that much more special. Try not to be too hard on your parents, though.
If they see your little one infrequently, the odd naughty snack or meal
will do him absolutely no harm.
My baby wants chips, cookies, and sweets like her older siblings; how can I avoid giving in?
The best advice is to make sure your whole family is eating
healthy foods. This may sound a bit extreme, but if the older ones
become accustomed to choosing fruits, healthy cookies, rice cakes,
cheese and yogurts (for example) as snacks, that is exactly what your
little one will consider to be normal. I always believe that you should
buy only what you want your children to eat. There is no point in
complaining that they always eat chips and treats if that’s what they
find in your cupboards. Choose your shopping carefully. Hungry kids will
eat what is available, and although they may object at the outset, they
will soon develop healthy eating habits.
There is no reason why
you can’t offer your baby a little of a particular treat, such as a
fudge brownie, on special occasions, or when your older children are
having treats. Perhaps you save dried fruit, a small carton of baby
fruit juice, a miniature cheese, or yogurt-coated raisins for outings or
other treat times. He’ll be satisfied if he thinks he’s getting