Healthy eating

Let baby get involved in the eating experience – Take your time, and involve babies in meal times. Make eating a happy event. It is learning and play as well as a chance to provide energy and nutrients. Include baby in mealtimes with others whenever you can.

By 10-12 months of age, a baby should be able to manage a range of minced and chopped foods, and be offered three meals a day, as well as having breastfeeds or about three drinks of milk.

Baby will be enjoying meals with bigger soft lumps, and can manage a wider range of finger foods. They are now becoming very good at picking up small pieces of food and moving them to their mouth. They will use a cup with more confidence.

By 1 year of age, breastmilk or infant formula will provide less energy and nutrients than the food your baby eats. Breastmilk still provides energy, nutrients and protection from infection to babies for as long as they are breastfed. Babies should be eating a wide range of foods at meals, show increasing independence in eating. Offer simple and unprocessed foods – Base meals and snacks around minimally processed and natural foods. Make sure children can see and touch the foods they are offered, and can connect food tastes to how things look and feel, so they can learn to choose foods for themselves.

Make sure babies sit in the same place to eat, as often as possible, to help them feel comfortable and secure. Offer food when babies are most likely to be hungry. Present simple foods that they can easily see and distinguish. Offer colourful fruits and vegetables that will catch their attention. Give small portions, offer praise when it’s finished, and then offer more.

Give foods they have eaten before alongside anything that is new. Eat a spoonful of your child’s food and show your enjoyment by saying ‘yummy’ and giving lots of smiles. Encourage children to feed themselves. They may well eat more if they have more control. If baby is reluctant to try new foods try to keep calm. If parents are anxious and tense, babies will pick up on this. Try not to worry if more food is eaten on some days than on others. Be guided by your baby and their appetite as they are growing and developing in the first year.

Healthy Start

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the UK Welfare Healthy Start scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit. It aims to improve the health of pregnant women, infants, children and their families on benefits or low incomes.

If you qualify, you’ll get vouchers worth £3.10 each to spend on:

  • milk
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • plain frozen fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula

You can also get free vitamin supplements.

For more information about Healthy Start, see  http://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/

How to protect your baby’s teeth

Don’t offer foods or drinks high in sugar. Never offer anything but milk or water in a bottle. Introduce a cup from 6 months. Never dip dummies in anything sweet, or pacify children with sweet foods. Begin to brush baby’s teeth twice a day every day as soon as they appear. Use a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste.