According to research by the SMA® Nutrition, our nation's toddlers are enjoying the latest food trends, modern exercise classes and state-of-the-art technology.
Part of the research suggests that the toddlers of today are becoming less fussy when it comes to their diets, with their mums feeding them more adventurous food. With sweet potato proving to be the most popular, it is fed by 64% of mums. Other extravagant items of food that are being served up to toddlers are organic produce (37%), couscous/quinoa or hummus (35%), avocado (28%) and even sushi (7%).
Charlie Parker, an independent Nutritionist shares her top ten reasons why an adventurous palette can benefit a babies' growth and development:
- Providing baby's with a varied diet not only provides them with the energy they need, but also the vital nutrients for optimal growth and development and can also help them avoid becoming fussy eaters.
- Getting as many taste and textures into a baby's diet early on will help avoid the child being a fussy eater later on. Child psychologist suggest that 4-8 months is the 'window of opportunity' to get taste and textures into their diet for long-term acceptance. Research has shown that children who are introduced to lumpy food after the age of 10months had more feeding at the age of 15 months than those that were introduced to lumps before that time.
- Food fed to your baby in early childhood not only effects their health at that time but also predicts their food preferences in later life, that's why we should make the most of the 'window of opportunity', establishing good habits from the word go.
- If a baby rejects a particular food, try, try and try again…. it can take over 10 times for a baby to accept a new food. Introduction of new foods is relatively easy before about 7-8 months, even bitter or sour tasting foods get positive reactions, but the longer you leave it the harder it gets.
- A baby's brain develops rapidly and requires a good supply of iron, and by 6 months of age a baby's iron stores will be low. Therefore, a diet containing plenty of iron-rich foods will help keep their iron stores topped up and prevent against iron deficiency aneamia, which can cause delays in development and growth. Iron containing foods include red meat, green leafy vegetables, well cooked eggs, poultry, peas, beans and foods and drinks fortified in iron, such as follow on formulas.
- Vitamin D works alongside calcium to help form strong bones and teeth. If a baby does not get enough Vitamin D it will be at risk of developing rickets, as their bones do not form properly. Most Vitamin D is made by the action of sunlight on the skin, and not a great deal is provided by the diet. Therefore it's important that a babies diet include foods fortified in vitamin D or they take a baby supplement containing Vitamin D.
- At 6-7 months a baby starts to develop hand to eye coordination, their lips are more active during feeding and their tongue will go up and down and the biting action starts, so new textures should be introduced moving from smooth purees to thick purees and mashed food and introducing finger foods.
- From about 9-12 months purees should become lumpier and finger foods should be used at all meals, as the chewing action is vital for speech development. Small food items such as peas and sweetcorn that they can pick up from their plate will help them to develop their pincer grip. As their coordination improves they will become more proficient at self-feeding using a spoon.
- Weaning should be fun and messy, encouraging the baby to interact with the food, touching, squidging and smearing is teaches them about texture, size, shape and heat, it's a great sensory adventure!
- Eating should be sociable and it's important to create a positive eating environment, family meal times can be a great way to do this. It's an opportunity to provide your child with role modeling and encouraging them to try what you are eating.
Tagged in Toddlers