The food that you offer your baby, and the ways you offer it, introduces eating patterns that can continue into later life. This can affect both their nutritional intake and weight as your child grows older. For this reason, it’s important not to think of the foods you offer your baby outside of traditional mealtimes as snacks or treats, but as essential mini meals or ‘in-betweeners’. Every bite counts toward good nutrition for your baby so always try to provide nutrient-rich food and avoid high-sugar or high-salt ‘snack’ foods.
A healthy mini meal consists of nutritious foods in the appropriate texture for your baby. It might include small pieces of foods that they can pick up and put in their mouth themselves. A small serving of soft, diced fruits or vegetables, alongside a protein-rich food, such as cheese or yogurt, is a great combination. These mini meals include foods from any of the main food groups to give your baby a range of important nutrients throughout the day:
Grains are an important source of B vitamins such as niacin and riboflavin, and fibre. Niacin and riboflavin play an important role in releasing energy from foods, great for a baby on the move. Iron-fortified infant cereals, soft crackers, soft cooked pasta and rice are grain foods that are perfect for your baby between 6 and 12 months.
Baby’s between 7-12 months should aim to have 1.5 serves of grains per day (1 slice of bread is one serve)
2. Meat/fish/protein foods
Foods from this group are rich in protein, and also supply your baby with many other important nutrients, such as iron. Proteins work as ‘building blocks’, essential for growth and development of our little ones, and iron helps blood carry oxygen to your baby’s organs and muscles. Red meat and chicken is packed with protein and iron. Beans, such as chickpeas, are a good non-meat source of protein.
Baby’s between 7-12 months should aim to have 1 serve of meat or other protein source a day (one serve is equivalent to 30g)
Dairy foods contain calcium, vitamin D, and potassium—all of which are important for your baby’s growth and development. Calcium and vitamin D work together to build strong bones and teeth. Low-sugar yogurts, designed especially for babies, and cheese provide valuable sources of calcium and potassium.
Baby’s between 7-12 months should aim to have 1 serve of dairy a day (one serve is equivalent to 20ml yoghurt or 10g cheese) in addition to their usual breastmilk or infant formula.
Fruits contain many essential nutrients, such as vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, and fibre. Vitamin C helps body tissues grow and repair. Oranges and mango are great sources of vitamin C. Grapefruit and banana are good sources of folic acid, potassium and vitamin C too!
Baby’s between 7-12 months should aim to have ½ piece of fruit a day (one serve is equivalent to 20g).
As well as being high in many essential nutrients, vegetables (and fruits) are naturally low in fat and calories. Vegetables such as broccoli, pumpkin, carrots and peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre, potassium and folate. Vitamin A is an important nutrient that helps keep eyes and skin healthy, and protects against infections. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach are all rich in this vital vitamin.
Baby’s between 7-12 months should aim to have 1.5-2 serves of vegetables a day (one serve is equivalent to 20g).