What to feed? When to feed? How much to feed? Food and feeding of babies and children often induce worry and confusion in many parents’ minds.
This article will offer you guidance to improve child nutrition and establish healthy food habits. Here are some practical tips.
Top tips to improve child nutrition
1. Practice Breastfeeding.
Exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first 6 months is recommended. It is safe, natural, and free. It offers many health benefits to the baby and the mother.
Breastfeeding is best feeding!
2. Avoid or limit Bottlefeeding.
Bottlefeeding with formula milk is a popular, and so-called ‘convenient’ feeding method. But it increases risk of infections, dental problems, obesity, constipation, and avoidance of solid foods. It is expensive and increases workload.
Prolonged Bottlefeeding is unhealthy. So, stop Bottlefeeding latest by the baby’s first birthday.
Read ‘How to stop bottle-feeding?”.
Watch Healthy Nutrition Videos.
3. Avoid or limit Marketed Baby Foods.
Ready-made Baby-foods are popular, convenient, but not nutritionally superior. They may contain unhealthy additives, preservatives, and even, contaminants. They keep the children away from home foods and tastes.
4. Start Weaning with Home Foods.
For weaning, introduce fresh, natural, and home-cooked foods. Read ‘Weaning- Do it right’.
5. Avoid Mixer-Grinder for mashing foods.
Mash solid foods with fingers or a spoon. Using a Mixer-grinder to turn solid foods into fine pastes and purees is a practice best avoided, as it prevents introduction to coarser granular foods, and may lead to long-term choking tendency.
6. Choose a Balanced Healthy Diet.
Choice and balance of various culturally suitable food items are crucial. Balanced diet meets nutritional needs, prevents disease, provides energy, and manages weight.
Some healthy choices are- Plant-based diet instead of meat-based. Whole grain flours instead of refined. Fresh fruits, instead of fruit juices. Fresh foods instead of frozen. White meats, instead of red, and leaner meat-cuts, instead of fatty.
7. Do Not Believe Hearsay Food Myths.
Hearsay beliefs lead to food misconceptions. They result in needless worries about so-called ‘Gassy’, ‘Hot’ or ‘Cold’ kind of foods, and resultant reluctance for home foods. Clear all your doubts from a medical expert!
8. Limit Restaurant Foods, fast Foods and Packaged Foods.
Restaurant foods, Fast Foods and Packaged foods are increasingly used. Such foods may be tasty, but often contain excess salt, sugar, fats, additives, and preservatives. Eating them regularly may lead to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and depression.
9. Limit Sugary Soft Drinks.
Fruit juices, sodas, or energy drinks are replacing water and milk in diets. These ‘soft’ drinks contain high levels of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine and citric, malic, or phosphoric acid. Regularly drinking such drinks may lead to problems like obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, dental caries, and migraine.
10. Avoid ‘How Much’-‘Quantity’ Fixation!
How much my baby/child is eating becomes the most important daily question for many parents. Quantity of food consumption is often the prime parental concern, and a reason for Forced Feeding. This may lead to picky eating, and overweight or underweight problems.
So, just focus your efforts on offering healthy dietary choices and let go of this ‘How Much’- ‘Quantity Fixation’! Each individual is naturally fitted with a mechanism to decide how much food s/he needs.
11. Set a good Role Model.
Good Parental Role Model is important. Make informed, healthy food choices, and stay physically active. Involve children in the choosing, buying and cooking of healthy foods. Ensure good sleep and a controlled recreational screen time.
Read ‘The inheritance of health‘.
12. Make food times enjoyable!
Make meal times pleasant family meeting time. Keep the mood and conversation light and fun.
Follow our Right Parenting experts’ top 12 tips to improve child nutrition , and establish healthy eating habits in them.