Choosing your little one’s diet is an important decision that has long-term effects on your baby’s growth and development. The nutritional needs of an infant versus a 3-year-old actually differ significantly. To guide the food choices for your child, read on to discover the essential nutrients needed for each growing stage.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. During this stage of life, breast milk is the ideal option as it naturally contains the vitamins and minerals required to meet the specific nutrient needs of babies. Breastmilk is also easily digested by a newborn. When breastmilk is unavailable or inadequate, formula is an alternative.
The 6-month mark is an exciting milestone, as you can begin introducing your little ones to solid food. While your baby will still be getting most of their nutrition from milk, solid food can help supplement their diet for healthy growth and taste development.
Your baby’s first foods should always be smooth purees with no lumps, and you should start off with small amounts at first. Never rush the transition – simply start off by feeding your baby solids once a day, eventually increasing to 2 or 3 times a day. Iron storage of infants starts to decrease 3 – 4 months after birth.
Iron is a key nutrient at this growth stage hence choose solid food which are rich in iron like:
It is recommended to feed your little ones milk, then solids after the milk. During this growth stage, parents can also choose to switch from infant formula to follow-on formula to meet their changing nutritional needs. Follow-on formula is specially formulated to be rich in iron and zinc, which can complement your baby’s diet as they start on solid foods.
For Toddlers 1-3 years By now, your 1-year-old is probably developing his or her own preference for food and trying a variety of new flavors. This is also a good time to watch out for allergic reactions to new foods while cultivating healthy eating habits.
Be sure to include a variety of food from the four main groups to ensure they are getting the optimal nutrients needed – grains (rice, bread, whole grains), fruits, vegetables, and meat. A low-fat diet is not suitable for children below to age of 2 years as they still need to fuel their high energy levels, so fat should not be restricted until they are older.
As your child gets used to solid foods, milk should remain an important part of their diet as it provides the necessary calcium and vitamin D for healthy growth, bone and teeth development. Formula milk for toddlers is rich in iron, calcium, and lutein and is specially formulated to meet the growing nutritional needs of your toddler from 12 months onwards.
This is a quick guide on the recommended food portion per day:
As your child gets older, his appetite will also grow. It is normal for children between the ages of 3 to 6 to refuse to try new foods, change their minds about foods they previously like, or demand to eat the same food every meal. Continue to offer a variety of familiar and new foods at each meal. A simple guide is to offer your child three meals a day with two nutritious snack in between.
Healthy eating habits can be cultivated from a young age, especially when it comes to food choices. Avoid having too many high-calorie snacks like chips and candy around the house, as well as soft drinks or ice cream. Instead, keep your kitchen stocked up with fruits or cereals.
A sample menu of a nutrient-dense diet per day:
Snack time also becomes very important in between meals. Offering your child liquids (milk or juice) between meals can help curb their appetite. However, parents should take note to limit supplementary liquids to no more than one cup per day or they may not feel hungry for solid foods.
Made from 100% grass-fed cow’s milk with only the finest ingredients, Nature One Dairy Pty Ltd is dedicated to manufacturing nutritionally optimal formula milk in a pharmaceutical grade facility in line with Australia’s strictest food regulations and hygiene standards.