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Starting your little one on a diet of healthy, fresh food will encourage him to eat well in the future, and also improve his resistance to illness. Your baby may be reluctant to eat when he is feeling under the weather, but keeping him hydrated and offering small, nutrient-dense meals can help him to recover quickly and easily.
Q: My baby has lost her appetite and seems to be losing weight; how can I tempt her to eat?
A: It’s always worrying when babies stop eating for whatever reason, and the first thing you need to do is to ascertain the cause. If she is unwell, she may be off her food for a short period of time, and begin eating again in a few days’ time, and with a vengeance! Keeping her hydrated during this time, with plenty of fluids, is the most important thing. If she’s teething she may find eating less comfortable. In this case, offer her cool purées or a fromage frais that will help to soothe her gums and a teething ring or cold washcloth to “teethe” on.

Make sure that your baby is getting enough milk . Once little ones start on solid food, it’s easy to think that they are eating “meals” and don’t need their normal milk intake, but this is not the case, as it provides them with the calories they need, as well as their main nutrients.

You can try tempting her with different foods—Greek yogurt mixed with fruit purée, cheesy pasta that has been puréed until smooth, or vegetables with grated cheese. Persevere, you’ll soon find something that she loves, and even if you have to offer it daily to encourage her, it’s worth the effort.

Q: Should I be worried if my baby is underweight for her height?
A: If your baby has always been underweight, and is growing in length and developing normally, you have no need for concern. Many babies have smaller frames, and are more slightly built than the “average” baby, and he may well be the perfect weight for his frame, even if he comes out as being light in relation to his height.

A healthy baby will have plenty of energy, will be alert, growing normally and sleep and feed well. If you don’t think he’s growing or developing at the rate you would expect, follow your instincts and talk to your doctor. There may be something else at the root, which can be addressed. It’s always important to see your doctor if your baby’s feeding habits change dramatically, he loses weight, seems tired, or doesn’t sleep well.

Q: Are there any foods that will help my baby go to sleep?
A: Your baby’s main food, her regular milk, whether it is breast milk or formula, is ideal for getting her to sleep. Like all dairy products, milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which encourages sleep. Warm milk and a full tummy are a great way to lull a baby off to sleep. Proteins such as meat, fish, chicken, and lentils are the best source of tryptophan, however, so include these in her dinner to make her sleepy. Oatmeal is a good choice too, as oats are naturally calming and relaxing. Carbohydrates a few hours before bed, such as rice or potatoes, can also make her sleepy and ready for bed.
Q: My baby has diarrhea; what should he eat?
A: The most important thing to consider when your baby has diarrhea is fluid. He will need plenty to replace what he has lost in loose bowel movements, and he will need even more to encourage the healing process. So begin by offering him regular milk, whether it is formula or, even better, breast milk, little and often, and giving small sips of water or rehydration fluid in between. Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration.

If he’s eating regular meals, these should be pared down to the essentials. Apple purée is particularly good and very ripe bananas can help to restore your baby’s good bacteria, which can be wiped out in the case of a tummy bug. They’re also easily digestible, and will provide your baby with energy. Plain baby rice and toast fingers are also good bets for your little one.

Q: What are superfoods, and should I be including them now?
A: It is a great idea to include as many superfoods as you can, as early as possible, as their health benefits are undeniable. They give babies the best tools to grow and develop.

Superfoods are foods that contain fantastic levels of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants , which will enhance your baby’s health and development on all levels. Popular superfoods for little ones include mango, sweet potato, papaya, berries, butternut squash, sweet pepper, leafy green vegetables, and carrots.

Giving vitamins

For most babies, vitamin supplements are probably unnecessary, so long as they are eating fresh food in sufficient quantity and drinking formula milk until the age of one. However the Department of Health recommends that if your baby is being breastfed (breast milk doesn’t contain enough vitamin D) or is drinking less than 18fl oz (500ml) of infant formula a day, you should give him vitamin supplements from six months to two years of age. It’s a good idea to ask your health professional or doctor for advice.

Superfoods Purée

Superfoods have been identified as those that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This purée contains turkey, spinach, and sweet potatoes, which all make the grade. You can also use ground chicken thigh instead of the turkey.

10 minutes

9–11 minutes

NOTE

5 baby portions

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2in cubes

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • 1 small shallot, or small piece of onion, minced

  • 1/2 cup ground turkey

  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed but not dried

  1. Put the sweet potato in a steamer and steam until tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the steamer and reserve the steaming water.

  2. While the sweet potato is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, add the shallot and turkey, and stir-fry until the turkey is browned and crumbly, 2–3 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted, 2–3 minutes.

  3. Add the cooked sweet potato and 4 tbsp of the steaming water. Cover and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.

  4. Put the contents of the frying pan in a blender and blend to a purée. Thin with a little of the steaming water, if necessary. Cool quickly, then refrigerate. Freeze in individual portions; when needed, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

  5. To serve, heat the purée in the microwave or a saucepan until piping hot. Let cool slightly and check the temperature before serving.

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