Saturday, 6 December 2014

Making Choices

As a first time older mum, the minute I knew I was pregnant, I couldn't do enough research into all the options available, and all the choices and decisions I'd have to make.

Some of the choices I've made have raised a few eyebrows (babywearing and baby led weaning for example), but I've done my research and I'm comfortable and confident in those. So much so I generally don't even try to defend those choices when questioned.

The one thing that is repeatedly asked of me though is why I give my child the food he gets, or rather why I don't give him the food I don't.  I believe in encouraging a baby to try as many flavours and textures as possible, as long as it's healthy.  That's not to say I won't ever let him have chocolates, cakes, chips etc, but there's a time for those and that time is not right now.

The latest figures, for 2012/13, show that 18.9% of UK children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.4% were overweight. Of children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.3% were obese and another 13.0% were overweight. This means almost a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese.

As someone who was slim when growing up because of a healthy diet and lots of exercise, but who didn't understand nutrition and has ended up a couple of stone heavier than is healthy; I don't want to see my child struggle with his health because of his diet later in life.  What's important to me is to ensure that my child enjoys ALL foods and learns about a healthy, balanced diet. One which includes fruit, vegetables, fish and fresh meat, as well as nuts, seeds and CAKE!  Gawd, I can't imagine a life without cake and wouldn't dare inflict that on anyone, but it's important to learn what a healthy lifestyle is all about.  Of course once he's older he can make his own choices but at least they will be informed choices.

In the meantime I take my responsibility as a parent seriously. We have fun with food and exercise while nurturing and developing our bodies. I will encourage him to try all foods and learn to cook, understand where food comes from and understand the importance of food choices on your body and mind.

The basics are obvious, limited sugar and salt. The NHS website provides lots of useful information, but the key rules to follow are these:

Salt

Babies shouldn’t eat much salt as it isn't good for their kidneys. Don't add salt to your baby’s food and don't use stock cubes or gravy as they're often high in salt. Remember this when you’re cooking for the family if you plan to give the same food to your baby.

Sugar

Your baby doesn’t need sugar. By avoiding sugary snacks and drinks, you'll help to prevent tooth decay. Use mashed banana, breast milk or formula milk to sweeten food if necessary.

Honey

Occasionally, honey contains bacteria which can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to infant botulism, which is a very serious illness. It’s best not to give your child honey until they’re one year old. Honey is a sugar, so avoiding it will also help to prevent tooth decay.

Nuts

Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under five as they can choke on them. As long as there's no history of food allergies or other allergies in your family you can give your baby peanuts once they're six months old as long as they're crushed or ground into peanut butter.

"Low-fat" foods

Fat is an important source of calories and some vitamins for babies and young children. It’s better for babies and young children under two to have full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese rather than low-fat varieties.
uts

Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under five as they can choke on them. As long as there's no history of food allergies or other allergies in your family you can give your baby peanuts once they're six months old as long as they're crushed or ground into peanut butter.



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