What to eat at every age
OW do you create healthy habits that will last a lifetime? It’s not always easy; children gravitate naturally towards the less healthy treat foods after all, so finding a way around that is essential. Below is a stage-by-stage guide to help you.
π AGE 0-1
The best source of nutrition for a baby is breast milk. Breastfeeding rates in Ireland have increased slowly over the last 10 years. This is great news, but there is a long way to go. Current rates of exclusive breastfeeding on discharge from maternity hospital are just 46pc. After a mother leaves hospital, there is a large drop off.
According to statistics from 2013, just 15pc of Irish babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months, which when compared to the global average of 38pc is worrying. Breastfeeding gives a child the optimum start in life. If Ireland was to improve its rates, research suggests this will lead to reductions in childhood obesity and chronic diseases.
For example, breastfeeding may protect the mother from developing breast and ovarian cancer as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Breasting feeding may protect the baby from developing coeliac and Crohn’s disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as reduce the risk of diabetes, asthma and allergy.
At about six months of age, a baby starts weaning on solids. At this age they’ll be
physically able to start eating, be able to sit up, have stronger immune systems and be able to teach themselves to move food around their mouth and chew it. This is a gradual process, starting with puréed bland food, with a focus on plants and specifically vegetables. As time goes on, they will progress to lumpier textures and stronger tastes. A priority during the weaning process is to introduce your baby to as many new foods as possible.
However, certain foods need to be avoided at this time. For example, raw eggs, unpasteurized cheese, bran, whole or chopped nuts, high mercury fish such as swordfish, honey, salt, added sugar and processed meats. There are other foods that need more focus as they provide the baby with critical nutrients during this particular stage in life.
Nutrients to focus on during weaning:
IRON: By six months of age, an infant’s store of iron, provided by the mother during pregnancy, is depleted. Rich iron sources are critical during the weaning process to prevent anaemia and optimising growth and development. Suitable sources of iron include beef, pork, lamb, poultry, well-cooked eggs, peas, beans, lentils and leafy green vegetables. › VITAMIN D: By six months of age, an infant’s stores of nutrients such as vitamin D are decreasing. Vitamin D has many functions within the body.
However, it plays a crucial role in bone health. Due to their rapid growth rates, Irish babies should be given a vitamin D supplement providing 50g or 200IU of vitamin D from birth to 12 months.
› DHA: Consuming enough foods rich in Omega-3 fats particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important for the brain and eye development of infants. During weaning, an infant’s DHA levels can drop due to lower levels of DHA commonly found in the weaning diet. Infants between the ages of seven to 12 months should consume 100mg of DHA per day or 700mg of DHA per week. This can be met by offering oily fish once or twice a week such as salmon, trout, herring, mackerel and sardines.
Breastfeeding is best sourceof nutrition