The basic food groups

Information on the combinations of foods that are best for your baby.

Baby

Find out what combinations of foods are best for your baby or toddler:

Bread, cereals and potatoes

Potatoes

This group includes breads, pasta, potato, rice, couscous and breakfast cereals . They provide the complex carbohydrate that give your child energy. Each meal and snack should contain at least one portion of foods from this group.


Fruit and vegetables

They provide a range of vitamins and minerals and are the main source of antioxidants and flavanoids for children. They are an important part of a healthy diet, and should be included in all meals and given as snacks as well.


Milk and dairy

This group includes milk, cheese and yoghurt which are rich in protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. Children over a year need three small servings of these foods per day as at this stage they will be taking less milk to drink. Be careful not to give too much cheese as it is quite high in salt.


Meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses

Eggs

The foods in this group will provide protein, iron, zinc and other minerals and vitamins. Aim to give 1 or 2 small portions of these foods per day.


Foods high in fat and sugar

You need to include some of these foods in the diet of young active children as they provide lots of calories, omega-3 and omega-6 fats, plus the fat soluble vitamins A, D and E. But be careful as they contain a high ratio of calories to nutrients and excess amounts can cause obesity.

As your child gets older and is taking a wide range of foods, at around a year it is good to start thinking of the types of fats given. Butter can be substituted with margarines. Choose a margarine that is high in polyunsaturates or monounsaturates, and one that is fortified with Vitamins A and D. You can also use oils in cooking that are high in monounsatures and polyunsaturates such as olive or sunflower oil.