Make nu­tri­tion a fam­ily af­fair

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Food - Joyce Fe­gan

PAR­ENTS’ big­gest worry, when it comes to their child’s nu­tri­tion, is rais­ing a fussy eater. Ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey, 69% of moth­ers in Ire­land, France and Bri­tain said they were wor­ried about rais­ing a fussy eater. The re­search, car­ried about by Mum­myPages, also found that 68% of par­ents do not have time to cook for their fam­ily and their baby and 61% are con­fused about the rules for wean­ing their baby on to solid foods.

Siob­han Berry, Mum­myPages’ wean­ing ex­pert, has re­cently pub­lished The Baby & Fam­ily recipe book, aimed at man­ag­ing th­ese fears and over­com­ing par­ents’ time poverty.

The premise of the book is that you cook for the fam­ily and adapt it for the baby. As well as hav­ing more than 100 recipes, the book in­cludes a por­tion and tex­ture guide to wean your baby from four months to 12 months. There is also in­for­ma­tion on how to in­tro­duce all food groups to your child’s diet, in­clud­ing gluten, meat, fish and dairy.

In or­der to help with man­age­ment of time and bud­gets, the book comes with a sea­sonal cal­en­dar, so you know what to buy and when, and tips on batch cook­ing and stor­age of food.

The Baby & Fam­ily wean­ing and recipe guide has al­ready been en­dorsed by Dr Rhona Ma­hony, Mas­ter of the Na­tional Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal.

“I think it’s won­der­ful that there are sup­ports out there now such as Siob­han’s book that al­low mum to cook for fam­ily and adapt for baby. When I was wean­ing my own chil­dren we were en­cour­aged to cook spe­cial meals for baby and the branded shop bought prod­ucts were the most pop­u­lar so­lu­tion,” she says.

“They saved us time and re­moved the fear that baby wouldn’t like our cook­ing or that it wasn’t per­fectly nu­tri­tion­ally balanced. The wean­ing and recipe guide gives to­day’s mum the con­fi­dence to make her baby and grow­ing fam­ily meals at home us­ing fresh pro­duce, I only wish it had been around 20 years ago.”

The book’s au­thor, Siob­han Berry, says in­tro­duc­ing your baby to their first foods should be an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence, and if this is not the case there are other el­e­ments, aside from what is on their plate, to con­sider.

“If you are wor­ried that your baby doesn’t en­joy meal­times, there are other ques­tions to con­sider other than the food that you are of­fer­ing your baby to taste. Con­sider the en­vi­ron­ment you have cre­ated — are they sit­ting com­fort­ably, are they over-stim­u­lated?

“Think about the time of day — are they tired, have they just had a milk feed? Ques­tion if your lit­tle one feels in­volved in the process — are you let­ting them to par­tic­i­pate in meal­times,” she says.

Let­ting your chil­dren par­tic­i­pate in meal­times ap­pears to be key if you want to avoid rais­ing fussy eaters af­ter the wean­ing years. Mak­ing nu­tri­tion a fam­ily af­fair can help keep good habits in place.

Da­rina Allen, founder of Bal­ly­maloe Cook­ery School, be­lieves that in­volv­ing chil­dren in the cook­ing process, be that through grow­ing herbs on your kitchen win­dow sill or wash­ing veg­eta­bles, stim­u­lates en­thu­si­asm in them to try lots of dif­fer­ent foods. The cook­ery school has just launched a part­ner­ship with Grow It Your­self (GIY), where a slow food ed­u­ca­tional project will be de­liv­ered at nine schools in Cork, in­clud­ing Shana­garry Na­tional School.

Da­rina Allen says the project pro­vides “chil­dren with an ex­cit­ing hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence of grow­ing their own food”.

“This is an in­valu­able life skill not cur­rently on the cur­ricu­lum, which will help to stim­u­late en­thu­si­asm for de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious home-grown food and its health ben­e­fits,” says Allen.

An­other newly-pub­lished recipe book that in­cludes chil­dren in the cook­ing process is My Lit­tle Sous-Chef, which is two books in one — one is for the adult in the kitchen, list­ing in­gre­di­ents, in­struc­tions and pho­tos of recipes for the grown-up to fol­low, and the sec­ond is for the child, lam­i­nated and con­tain­ing sim­ple-to-fol­low il­lus­tra­tions of safe tasks to help the par­ent make the recipe in the main book.

The idea is that ev­ery­one is in­volved, with chil­dren pre­par­ing and touch­ing food from a young age and all in the name of healthy eat­ing. Recipes in­clude bean tacos, veg­e­tar­ian lasagne, fish balls made from salmon and pota­toes and fo­cac­cia.

The Baby & Fam­ily recipe book is priced at €16.99 and avail­able from www.mum­my­cooks.com with 10% of all pro­ceeds be­ing do­nated to the Na­tional Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion, Holles Street.

For My Lit­tle Sous-Chef see www.mylit­tle­souschef.com

BITE SIZE: Siob­han Berry, with daugh­ters Ash­liegh and Jes­sica, is au­thor of ‘The Baby & Fam­ily’ recipe book and says in­tro­duc­ing first foods to your baby should be an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

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