Can my baby eat what the rest of the family is eating?
Babies want to be part of the family, so when your baby has passed the early stages of weaning, it is good to get him or her involved with family mealtimes. This is a good time to look at the whole family's diet and make sure that it is healthy and well balanced, including enough starchy foods, not too much sugary and fatty foods, and avoiding too much salt.
Babies can eat many of the same foods as other family members, providing you bear in mind that you should avoid the following foods for your baby or toddler:
- Foods with added salt or sugar (although the occasional sugary treat is fine)
- Unpasteurised cheeses such as brie and camembert, and blue cheeses (until your baby is a year old)
- Honey (until your baby is a year old)
- Whole nuts (before 5 years, to avoid the risk of choking)
- Whole grapes (before one year, to avoid the risk of choking)
- Very hard, 'sharp' foods that may cut your baby's mouth
My baby is developing fussy habits. How can I stop this developing?
Food refusal is a normal phase that most toddlers pass through at some time. For some time, toddlers may limit the number of foods that they will eat. This is usually a passing phase and will be more noticeable in some toddlers than others. Fear of new foods in the second year may be a primitive survival mechanism to prevent an increasingly mobile toddler from poisoning herself through eating things found in the house.
The first taste of a new food may bring a wary response or even refusal to eat, but don't give up on the food as at this stage it can be a normal response. The child may need to taste the food a few more times before they accept it as good to eat. It is also really useful if they see you eating the food, they may even ask to be given a little from your plate. This is because they trust what they see you eating to be safe.
Your toddler may eat less than other toddlers of the same age, but if she is growing and developing normally then she is taking the right amount of food to meet her nutritional requirements.
At what age can my baby start having occasional sweet treats?
A small amount of sugar if taken within a balanced diet which contains foods from all the food groups (i.e. starches, fruit and vegetables, milk, yoghurt, meat and fish) is acceptable. Sugary treats (especially sugary drinks) should not be given in isolation, i.e. on their own in between meals, as this is more damaging to teeth. They should also never be given instead of a meal, on the basis that 'at least he's eating something', which definitely sends the wrong message. There will always be a little sugar naturally in the diet, and the carbohydrate in breast milk is the sugar lactose, which is quite sweet. Good weaning practises help to teach an infant that tastes other than sweet breast milk are good to eat. Special occasion foods e.g. birthday cakes are definitely acceptable.