women
It’s natural to become preoccupied with your baby’s weight, veering between concerns that your baby is overweight and worrying that he’s not growing at the right pace. The good news is that a healthy, balanced diet will ensure he hits and maintains just the right weight for him, setting him on the right path for the years to come.
Q: Is there any way to prevent my baby from becoming overweight?
A: Breastfeeding is the most effective way to prevent babies from becoming overweight, because breastfed babies are much less likely to develop problems with obesity in later life. If you are beyond this point, then watch how and when you are feeding your baby. You should offer her the milk she needs, but watch for cues that she is full, and then stop. Don’t try to overfeed her in the hope that she will sleep better, or last longer between feeds.

Similarly, never ask her to clear her plate. Give her tastes of everything offered, and when she says no more, stop feeding her. Be careful, too, about offering milk or food as a comfort when your baby is upset. While it can be an easy way to soothe her, she will soon learn to associate food with comfort, which can eventually lead to comfort eating and obesity. Offer healthy snacks when she is hungry, to keep her blood sugar levels stable, and prevent cravings.

Finally, base her diet around fresh, whole foods, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and lots of lean proteins such as lentils, fish, chicken, and beef. With a full tummy, she’s unlikely to demand extra snacks.

Q: How can I tell if my baby is overweight?
A: To every parent their baby looks perfect, no matter what his size. In fact, studies have indicated that parents are often the last people to recognize a weight problem in children. Yet, a healthy baby may look plump and chubby, and this is not a bad thing.

Unless your baby has jumped a couple of percentile lines on his growth chart, which gives you an idea of the weight that is most appropriate for his height and age, you should not be unduly concerned. Some babies are heavily set; others put on weight before a growth spurt or seem a little chubby in advance of developmental stages, when new spurts of activity, such as crawling, even everything out. If your baby is wearing clothes that are larger than his age, or struggling to crawl, bend, or reach because of his size, there may be problems. If you are concerned, talk to your doctor.

Q: My baby never seems to be full, and will eat endless quantities of whatever I prepare. Should I stop her?
A: It’s interesting that some babies have a very strong “full” cue, and will not eat more than they need, while others appear to be able to eat indefinitely. The most important thing to remember is not to coerce your baby into finishing her “meal” when she is clearly not interested. Sometimes your baby may be hungrier than others; sometimes you may need to persuade her to have just a couple of tastes. But when she says no, you must respect that.

If your baby is eating a lot, but still putting on the normal amount of weight for her height, she may just be growing quickly, or be very active, and in need of more calories for energy. If she’s putting on weight, that’s another matter, and it’s worth paying a visit to your doctor to see if there is any obvious reason for her huge appetite.

Q: Should I use reduced-fat ingredients?
A: First and foremost, babies need fat for a number of important body functions, and you will do her no favors by cutting it out . The key is to choose healthy fats (which are liquid at room temperature, and include foods such as olive and vegetable oils) over unhealthy fats (which are hard at room temperature).

Secondly, reduced-fat foods tend to have extra chemicals added to them to make them more appealing or to improve the texture. In many cases, there are a lot of extra sugars or artificial flavors added. In reality, your baby is far better off eating a little of the real thing, than an alternative that is far less healthy.

Q: What should I add to my baby’s diet if he isn’t gaining weight?
A: Stir in some egg, milk, cream, cheese, soy, nut butters, ground seeds, and anything that can offer a few more calories without compromising your baby’s health. Fattening and unhealthy cakes, cookies, brownies, chips, and other processed foods might help him gain weight, but they add no nutritional value to his diet, and may make him unhealthy in the long-run.

You are far better off choosing good-quality fats and proteins to add to his diet. Drizzle some olive oil over his bread or pasta, or stir it into his purées. Offer some extra healthy snacks to entice him to eat, and to stimulate his appetite, and offer more protein and fat alongside his regular carbohydrates.

Snack attack

Babies do not, in the vast majority of cases, tend to overeat, so offering your little one a snack between meals, if she has had her fill of milk and still seems to want more, is fine. During periods of intensive growth, your baby may be very hungry and want more food to satisfy her. The best thing to do is follow her demands. 

Far-too-easy Banana Ice Cream

This tastes so good that you are not going to believe how easy and quick it is to make. It’s also a fantastic, healthy alternative to traditional ice cream. Try it!

1 minute plus freezing

NOTE

4 baby portions

  • 4 medium, ripe bananas

  1. Peel the bananas, then place them on a tray that can be put into the freezer. Pop them into the freezer and leave for at least 4 hours or overnight.

  2. Then simply remove the bananas from the freezer (one at a time if you want to make just one portion), cut into chunks, and blitz in a food processor until smooth.

  3. If making in bulk, freeze any leftover ice cream in a plastic box with a lid. Remove a portion and allow to soften a little before serving.

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