When my aunt was about to have her baby, she was super excited. She was going to be mother. She was aware of the huge responsibilities that comes with it, but she wasn’t prepared for the reality that hit her six months after. Her baby cried a lot and nothing would pacify her, not even breast milk.
She just wasn’t getting enough food. She had to gradually wean her off, but what was she going to feed her child? She wanted to try something different from the customary meals and something she would love, just like her milk.
At each age and as a child grows, we’re faced with the challenge of what to feed them, combining meals into a balanced diet that’ll make them grow into healthy vibrant young kids is always at the top of our minds. We keep trying to introduce them to something new as they get older, until we find what works for them and they love.
For babies, we should note that age is not a criteria for determining whether your child is ready to be introduced to solid foods. You should consider whether your baby can hold up his or her without support and whether they can be able to overcome the instinctive urge to push anything but liquid out of their mouths. Taking notice of these motor skills and your child’s development amongst others will help determine whether they’re ready for solid foods.
Making a child’s meal doesn’t need much thoughts, so long as they contain the necessary balanced diet, which they get on a daily basis, then you’re good to go. You’ll find all you need within these main categories of solids, liquids, supplements and finger foods, below;
Solids here are meals that are not wholly breast milk or meals which can be introduced together with breast milk. For instance, when you are starting to introduce your child to solids, you can mix it with breast milk. This is done when a baby finds it difficult to adapt to solid and mixing it with milk he’s familiar with will make it much easier. Even after your baby has started on solid foods, breast milk or infant formula is still an important source of nutrition. Solids are a bit thick yet soft, palatable and safe for babies. There are varieties of solids to introduce your baby to as their first meal.
This meal is quite popular among Nigerian mothers. It makes the most of solids introduced to infants. Puree comes in different varieties which makes, giving you a wide variety to choose from and meet your baby’s daily nutrient needs. These options will also help you make meals interesting, so that you won’t get bored when making Puree.
Puree is made mainly from adult meals, which are then mashed. When I was going through pictures of Purees and how to make it, I kind of fell in love with it and couldn’t wait to feed one to my child, so I’ll dwell more on it.
There is the purred meat made with beef, which contains iron and is critical to your baby’s brain development and ferries oxygen to every cell in the body.
There’s also the potato, plantain and without forgetting to mention, the fruits puree! The fruits puree is quite popular with mothers and loved by infants and toddlers. You can make it using various fruits like carrot, paw-paw, apple, strawberry, banana and any other fruit your baby would love. And before I forget, there is the vegetable puree, which is a perfect way for your kids to get as much nutrients as they can. Most children don’t like vegetables, so a good way to start is by mixing the vegetable with fruits to give you the vegetable-fruits puree. (I coined that word, hope I’m right).
Infant cereal is another great solid choice. It is fortified iron and contains rich nutrients just like the rice cereal, which is customary and safe first food for babies. The importance of taking iron supplemented meals cannot be over-emphasized.
The list of Solids won’t be complete without mentioning, corn flour. Corn flour is popularly known as custard or pap. There’s equally the brown pap made with additional grains of millet and guniea corn, which is sold in stores and is quite a staple in Nigerian homes. Brown pap is highly fortified in proteins, vitamins and minerals.
For toddlers, after the age of 1, they can eat nearly any food as long as it’s safe for them. Your child can have the same healthy meal with the rest of the family. Beware of meals your child has outgrown, like the infant formula, which can’t completely be a source of nutrition, however you may continue to breastfeed for as long as you and your baby wants.
Kids get vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre from a smoothie. Smoothies make one of the best treats for children. They’re great for snacks and breakfast. It’s also a great way to introduce veggies for kids who have aversion for vegetables, all you have to do is just sneak them into the smoothies and you’re good to go. Like a combination of banana and spinach or cucumber with watermelon and honey. Talk about the Importance of starting healthy habits early in life.
However, you should note that blended smoothies contain too much sugar if too many fruits are added to the smoothie. This is not good for the health of your child because too much sugar can result in cavities, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, and more.
Juice is perceived as healthy, however they contain artificial flavours with lots of unnecessary calories. Study shows that Introducing juice to infants and toddlers can be risky as they may come to favour it over breast milk and infant formula.
The best way to introduce children to juice is through natural drinks. Natural drinks are made from pure fruits, do not contain sweeteners and are highly preferable. You can make natural drinks at home to ensure they do not contain artificial flavours. .
Water makes up more than half of kids body weight and is an important part of all body functions and processes. Toddlers and children need water, though there’s no specific amount of water recommended for children, it is a good idea to give them between six and eight drinks per day to ensure adequate hydration. If your child doesn’t like the taste of water, you can add a bit of lemon or lime for flavour. Milk is also a great alternative when served between meals and snacks. Use breakers and cups instead of bottles.
Ideally, kids should get their vitamins from a balanced healthy diet. You can supplement their meals with whole grains, beef, fish, fruits and vegetables. Children naturally have cute baby fat, and as they get older, their meal has to be thoroughly managed for a wholesome balanced diet, consisting of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, omega 3 and 6 fats, protective plant compounds, fibre and fluid.
Serving reduced fatty meals, mostly found in processed meals and fatty foods, is a great way to phase put some fat.
While also limiting intake of cake, puddings and biscuits to one small serving per day and to be served alongside fruit. It will help in the long run as they’ll get to develop the eating habits necessary to avoid chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Supplements are usually given to children with eating disorder, chronic condition, kids on vegan diet and other medical conditions. Although giving your toddlers vitamin A & D supplement each day will help prevent rickets, foster growth and development. However, it’s best to consult with your child’s doctor.
Note family history of allergies which makes certain foods off-limits for some toddlers.
Finger foods are fantastic for encouraging independent eating and allow children to feel in control of their food choices. When you offer children a good variety at every meal you give them a choice of foods to pick from, and they are more likely to try at least some of them, even if they don’t eat everything on their plate. Thus making it a great way to overcome a stubborn refusal to eat what you want them to eat.
Also make sure that you cut finger foods into stick size pieces making it easier for babies to hold. Supervising your kids while they eat is step to ensure safe eating. Also take note of meals that are hard to chew, such as; popcorn-the unpopped kernel can be a choking hazard, only if you can carefully separate it from the pop.