Variety of Foods
When your little one turns 10 months old, he has probably found his favourite foods. However, it is important that you continue to introduce new textures and flavours into the diet to ensure that healthy eating habits are maintained.
Healthy Family Meals
By 12 months of age, your baby can start eating nutritious home-cooked family meals. It is essential that your child is provided with a wide range of nutritionally rich foods, especially those from the 5 basic food groups to maintain balanced and sufficient nutrition. The basic food groups are:
- Grains: bread, cereals, rice, pasta, etc.
- Fruits, vegetables and legumes/beans
- Dairy: milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
- Protein: lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu and beans/legumes
- Essential oils and fats: nuts, fish, eggs, chicken, beef, olive and canola oil, and avocados
Note: Choking is a risk with hard foods. Whole nuts, raw carrots or apple pieces should not be given to kids under the age of 3 years.
The 5 Basic Food Groups
- Grains provide carbohydrates which the body uses for energy. Some of the healthiest choice of grains for your baby are whole-meal and wholegrain bread, cereals, savoury biscuits, brown rice, couscous, wholegrain pasta and polenta.
- Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. You should make sure a variety of them are included in your baby’s meals and snacks every day. Some veggies like potato, yams and sweet potato also contain carbohydrates as an alternative to grains.
- Dairy choices include milk, yoghurt and cheese which provide the body with calcium and probiotics. Calcium is an essential mineral when it comes to healthy bones and teeth. Dairy foods also contain some protein. Note: Regular cow’s milk is not recommended for babies under 12 months of age.
- The protein food group includes red meat (lamb, beef and kangaroo), white meat (chicken, turkey and pork), fish and eggs. Non-meat protein sources include tofu, legumes and nuts. Meat and its alternatives have an abundance of protein, iron and zinc which are vital for your baby’s physical growth and development. It is better to choose lean meat and skinless poultry to guarantee not too much fat is in your little one’s diet.
- Oils and fats are an essential part of your baby’s diet. There are different types of fats, some healthier than others. Cholesterol, saturated, unsaturated and trans fats are the 4 basic fat types. For your baby to continue to have a balanced diet it is important that you provide them with less saturated and trans fat and instead include unsaturated fats in small amounts in their diet. Unsaturated fats help reduce the risk of heart diseases and lower cholesterol levels (among other health benefits) when replacing saturated and trans fats in a diet. However, all fats when eating in large amounts will contribute to weight gain. This is because fats are higher in energy (kilo joules) than other nutrients. Healthier sources of fats include avocados, nuts, eggs, fish and some meats (chicken and beef for example). Oils are basically fats that are liquid at room temperature and come from different plants and fish.
There are some foods that have little nutrients and are not necessarily good for one’s health. They are called ‘sometimes foods’. ‘Sometimes foods’ are high in sugar, salt and/or fat and it is crucial that you limit the amount of these foods offered to your child. Here are some examples of ‘sometimes food’:
- Chocolate and confectionary
- Sweet biscuits and high-fat savoury biscuits
- Chips and fried foods
- Pastry-based foods – pies, sausage rolls and pastries
- Fast food and takeaway foods
- Cakes and ice cream
- Soft drinks, fruit juice, fruit drinks, cordials, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavoured milk and flavoured mineral water