How to feed your children

When we are used to feeding adults and a little one comes along, we are often a little out of our depth. What do you give them? How much do you give them? Are there certain foods you should avoid giving them? What foods are better than others? My child only eats beige food… what do I do?! (I’m sure some of my (Danielle’s) patients will understand with the last one! – what’s with all the beige eaters at the moment!)


So, what do you give them?

It depends on how little they are as to what sort of foods you give a bub. Best to start out with texture-appropriate foods for safety reasons. First foods (given around 6 months of age and not before 4 months) should be high in iron and as minimally processed as possible. Fresh fruit, veggies, meat/legumes and iron-fortified baby cereals are great to start with. At the start your baby only needs small amounts as breast milk and/or formula is the main source of nutrition. Generally, we progress from pureed to soft, to mashed, to minced and then offer the way you offer the rest of your family.


What not to give a bub:

-       Soft drinks/fruit juices

-       Coffee and tea

-       Milk alternatives such as rice or almond milk

-       Honey

-       Raw eggs

-       Hard foods like carrots and nuts (to prevent choking)


Needs over the years

As they grow, their needs change with them. At around 2 years they should be having:

-       2 ½ serves of vegetables

  • An example of 1 serve is:
    • ½ cup cooked veggies
    • ½ cooked legumes
    • 1 cup leafy greens

-       1 serve of fruit

  • An example of 1 serve is:
    • 1 banana/apple/orange
    • 1 cup diced fruit salad
    • 2 small fruits e.g. kiwi, plum, apricot

-       4 serves of cereals/grains

  • An example of 1 serve is:
    • 1 slice bread
    • ½ bread roll
    • ½ cup cooked pasta, rice, noodles
    • ½ cup cooked porridge

-       1 serve of lean meat and alternatives

  • An example of 1 serve is:
    • 65g cooked red meat
    • 80g cooked chicken
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup cooked legumes

-       1 ½ serves dairy

  • An example of 1 serve is:
    • 1 cup milk (after 2 years reduced fat milk is appropriate)
    • 2 slices of cheese
    • ¾ cup yogurt


As you can imagine, as little ones get bigger, their needs increase too!

Skipping ahead a few years… by the age of 10, they should be having:

-       5 serves vegetables

-       2 serves fruit

-       4-5 serves cereals/grains

-       2 ½ serves of lean meat and alternatives, and

-       2 ½ - 3 serves dairy

Want to know about another age group? Send us a message!


But what about chips, chocolates, lollies, take away, biscuits, cakes, desserts?

We call these foods occasional foods. Occasional foods are those foods we know aren’t the best to have every day, because they are highly processed and might have lots of added “bad” fats, salt and sugars. However, too often we see parents giving their little ones these foods too often because they won’t eat anything else or they really love it! Grandparents are often big culprits in this department as they want to shower them in love and give them everything they want! But we have to think… is this really what is best for them? Yes, they love the food and are eating, but we might be doing more harm than good.


How to increase variety into a child’s diet?

You might not know, but it can take about 20 times for a child to decide if they really like the food or not. So don’t get disheartened and keep giving them opportunities to taste as they get older. A little tip… if they screw their face up after you give them something new, just ignore it, they want a reaction!


Some tips and tricks for trying new foods and having fun when eating:

-       Get them involved in the kitchen and shopping (they might want to pick something new to try! – within reason of course!)

-       Make the plate interesting, cute little faces with food, chop it up and make it into a snail, mix things that don’t normally go together and see if they like it! Pinterest has a mountain of awesome ideas – maybe you pick some out with your little one and have an afternoon making some fun foods to try

-       Serve family-style dinner and let them serve themselves (If they can) – all food in the middle and let them put it all together on their plate

-       Talk about the food – how does it taste? What does it smell like? What else is orange?

-       Buy them a special plate – kids portion plates are fantastic and are really affordable! $4 from Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)

If your little one is still not responding to trying new foods or is still quite limited with their food choices, make sure you book in to see one of our Paediatric Dietitians (myself (Danielle) or Rebecca).

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