Babies and toddlers

Newborn to 6 months

  • Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby and provides them with all the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development for the first 6 months.
  • Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended till the baby is 6 months of age and it is important to continue breastfeeding till the baby is 2 years , while introducing appropriate complementary food.

6 months to 1 year

  • Your baby will probably be ready for solid foods at around 6 months. Always supervise your child closely in case they choke.
  • Between 7 and 8 months, once your baby is eating a good variety of first foods, increase the variety and texture of the food you offer.
  • By 8 or 9 months you can start to offer solids before your baby’s breast or formula milk.

Introducing Solids:
6 months 7-8 months 9 months 10-12 months
Rice cereal
Barley cereal
Oat cereal
Mashed fruits and vegetables: Bananas, Pears, Peaches, Papaya, Mangos, Grapes, Apricots, Plum, Prunes, Avocado Peas, Carrots, Green beans, Sweet potato, Broccoli Cauliflower
Egg yolk

* Continue to give mashed fruits and vegetables at 7 months

* At around 8 months your baby may want to feed themselves so introduce finger foods such as rusks, lightly toasted bread and thinly sliced cucumber
Yoghurt (wholemilk)
Cheese (pasteurized)
Combo foods (macaroni and cheese, casseroles, etc)

Finger foods (spiral pasta, teething crackers, low sugar O shaped cereal etc)

Foods that can be unsafe for your baby

As babies grow, they will be eager to sample food from your plate – and you'll be eager to introduce some variety to his diet. But not all foods are safe for your child. Some pose a choking hazard, and a few aren't good for your baby's still-developing digestive system.

These foods will have to stay off baby’s menu for at least the first year

  • Honey (which contains bacteria that may cause a serious illness called infant botulism)
  • Allergenic foods (Peanuts and other nuts, chocolate, egg whites, shellfish, soybeans, and cows milk which has enzymes and proteins which the baby may not be able to adequately digest)

Note: Do not add salt and sugar when preparing baby’s food.

Babies tastes are not well developed and even if your baby's food tastes bland to you, your baby will probably prefer it that way. Salt can damage a young baby's kidneys and is best left out of baby's diet.

Some doctors okay these foods during the last few months of the first year; others recommend holding off on them until baby’s birthday, especially if there’s a family history of allergy:

  • Wheat
  • Citrus fruits and citrus juice
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

It's still a wise idea, though, to introduce new foods gradually, waiting several days after each new menu item to make sure your baby doesn't react badly to it.

Choking hazards to watch for:
  • Thick, Large chunks: A chunk of food larger than a pea can get stuck in your child's throat. Vegetables like carrots, celery, and green beans should be shredded or cooked and cut up. Cut fruits like grapes, cherry tomatoes into pea-sized pieces before serving. Cut meats and cheeses into very small pieces or shred them.
  • Small, hard foods: Hard candies, cough drops, nuts, and popcorn are potential choking hazards. Seeds may be too small to choke on but can get stuck in a child’s airway and cause an infection.
  • Soft, sticky foods: Soft foods like marshmallows and jelly or gummy candies can get lodged in your child's throat.
  • Peanut butter: The sticky consistency of peanut butter and other nut butters can make it tough for a young child to swallow safely.

1 – 2 years

By 1 year of age, try offering them the same food as the rest of the family. Children need to be offered a variety of food for energy and growth, including fruit and vegetables, bread, cereal, meat, fish or vegetarian foods and dairy products. Offer your child small amounts of a variety of food and let them choose. Try to ignore food left on the plate and tell them you are pleased with what they have eaten.

Your child may want to start to feed themselves, either with a spoon or fingers. To help reduce the risk of choking on food, avoid small hard foods (eg nuts, popcorn) and teach your child to sit down when eating and drinking. Stay with them when they are eating.

2 – 5 years

Offer your child a variety of healthy foods to choose from. A healthy diet includes a range of foods from different food groups: for example fruit, vegetables, cereals, bread, meat, and dairy products.

Fruit, raw vegetables, crackers, small sandwiches or cheese can also be healthy snacks. Involve your child in preparing meals and snacks to increase their interest in eating.

If food is refused they may eat it when presented in a different way eg vegetables in a different form; raw or cut into shapes. Keep offering the food they do not like; it may be tried at a later time. Or give your child some choice, eg ‘Would you like an apple or banana’? This often stops the automatic response of ‘No’ and gives them a feeling of control.

Snacks & treats

Children need fat in their diets for energy and growth, but it is important to not have high fat, high sugar and high salt food every day. Potato chips or sweet foods (sweets, chocolates, biscuits, ice cream) may be enjoyed as occasional treats, perhaps once a week. If eaten often or too close to meals, they may reduce your child’s appetite for healthier food. Sweet foods can also cause tooth decay.

Examples of healthy snacks are servings of fruit, crackers, small sandwiches, yoghurt and cheese.

Toddlers & drinks

Encourage water and milk as a drink.

It is ideal for children to be breastfed until 1 year or longer. After 1 year, most children can drink cow’s milk. Homogenised (standard) milk is the best type of cow’s milk for them.

It is recommended that children above 2 years drink low fat milk as it has the same nutrients and higher calcium content, with less fat.

Drinking too much milk can reduce how much they eat. Offer milk at the end of meals and encourage your child to drink water between and during meals.

If your child refuses to drink milk out of a cup, they can get calcium and nutrients from cheese, yoghurt, milk on their cereal or calcium-enriched milk substitutes (eg soy) instead.

Long lingering drinks are most damaging to the teeth so avoid leaving a bottle of milk or juice in your baby's cot.

If offering juice, limit to meal times as the flow of saliva is greatest so that it dilutes the sugars. Opt for fresh juice without sugar. If using packet juice, opt for 100% juice with no added sugar or dilute packet juice with plenty of water (ie 1 part juice to 10 parts water).

Flavoured milks, Milo, fruit juice and fizzy drinks are for occasional treats only. They are high in sugar and can cause holes in your child’s teeth.

Tea, coffee cola or other caffeinated drinks should not be given to children as these drinks reduce how much iron the body absorbs and can make children anaemic as well as draws the calcium out of the bones.

Fussy eating

Fussy eating can be worrying for parents but if your child is growing and developing appropriately then they are getting enough food. Keep offering a small amount of the foods they refuse as well as new foods as it may take them time to try them and learn to like them.

Avoid offering snacks just before meals: they need a break of about 1–2 hours with no food to make them hungry for their meal.

Parents are sometimes tempted to offer sugary, fatty, salty foods or more milk, but if they eat too many of these foods, children are less likely to eat healthy family foods.

Parents can also be tempted to offer food and drinks often. This means their child never gets the chance to get hungry.

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