Just when you think you are out of the woods with infancy nutrition, before you know it, the transition from infancy to toddler hood is taking place. Along with this phase comes lots of behavioural and nutritional challenges. How can you make this step more stress-free, fun and well, ultimately, enjoyable?
Here are 6 simple steps to a successful transition from infant to toddler nutrition:
1. Introduce solids at the right time: This has a huge impact on a number of things. Research has told us that the right time for introducing solids is approximately 6 months of age. At this stage, your little one will need help with eating. Don’t make this time a battle and don’t force it. Toddlers will take time to get used to new foods, flavours and textures.
2. Offer, offer, offer: Leading on from strategy number 1, it may take 10, even 20 times of offering a particular food before a child takes to that new food. This can be exhausting. Be patient, be calm and don’t beat yourself up if a particular food isn’t happening. I always think children are like pets and can sense your anxiety. The calmer you are at mealtimes, the better the experience will be – for everyone involved.
3. Finger foods: At around 6 months of age, an infant’s fine motor skills will start to develop. They will likely want to be involved in some phase of the feeding process. This may be allowing your little one to hold the spoon, while you hold another spoon to feed. It may be allowing them to hold a piece of food to feed themselves. Sure, they will miss, half of it (or more) will end up on the floor – but that’s OK. It’s about the entire eating experience. Good finger food options include steamed veggie sticks, pasta pieces, banana or other pieces of cut up fruit, avocado and finger-sized sandwiches.
4. Messy, messy, messy: I have eluded to it earlier, but be prepared to get messy. Really messy. Children will learn about the food, the texture, the smell, taste by getting messy – so try not to be a cleaner throughout the process and just roll with it. Whilst grandma might say – “don’t play with your food” – it’s actually a very important part of the learning to eat process for infants and toddlers.
5. Family mealtimes: Role modelling is hugely beneficial when you are teaching your child to eat. This starts by you eating with your child at mealtimes. Your child watches everything you do and wants to mimic your behaviours. What, how and when you eat makes a significant impression on your child.
6. Nutrients to note: There are a number of nutrients which are important for your child’s growth and development. It is important to include these nutrients at mealtimes. Iron, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and B Vitamins are the stand-out nutrients at this stage of life. Think full fat dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese), orange and yellow veggies and fruits, iron fortified cereals, minced meats and soft meat pieces.
Sometimes all of the above is easier said than done. If this is you, or if you have concerns regarding your child’s eating patterns, it would be a good idea to consult a dietitian (me) to help out. Book in at Fitwise today to get a comprehensive dietetic assessment.
Accredited Practicing Dietitian
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