Modern Momma Guide To Child Nutrition

Having children is a gorgeous thing.  From the moment we discover we are pregnant right through to the late teens, our children will give us great insight to who we are, teach us to be calm and overcome huge hurdles.  We feel our way through all the stages and eventually, by the time we become grandparents, we are experts.  Annoyingly there is no handy guide on how to be a parent that fits all children.  They are different and come with a whole host of differences, even twin siblings can be completely contrasting.  However there are a few areas that we can get solid advice and apply it, no matter what personality our child has.

When you are pregnant you will have focussed on a whole host of items to help keep your child safe.  Once you hit the twenty four week milestone you’ll be busy on sites like ensuring you have the safest car seat the world has produced.  Checking out advice sites like to make sure you are prepared for birth.  You will also be well versed on what not to eat whilst you are pregnant.  However, how much consideration have you put into what you should be eating.

Whilst most believe child nutrition starts when they hit baby food, the truth is it starts way before that, from the moment the cells form in our womb and, in fact, beyond that.  If you are planning a pregnancy then what you eat now will help ensure you offer your new baby the best environment whilst she develops inside your body.  If you discovered you were pregnant and haven’t really been looking after yourself as well as you should, now is the perfect time to make those changes.

As you are aware, our babies take their nutrition from us until they are born.  In fact they take their nutrition directly from us until they stop breastfeeding.  Here’s a crazy fact for you, babies develop their tastebuds from as early as eight weeks and whilst research is a little sketchy in this area, there is some that suggests what we eat during our pregnancy can have a direct impact on how are children form as eaters.  So it is important to eat a varied and nutritionally balanced diet right from the offset for two reasons.  Firstly so they have the very best start in life, foods packed with omega 3 and lots of water will ensure good cell regeneration and growth.  Your baby needs lots of this to develop well.  Secondly to help get them used, without them even knowing, to lots of different flavours.  Now, don’t let this make you think that you should be shovelling vegetables in that you hate the taste of, not only does your baby taste the foods you eat, she can also pick up on your emotions and feelings in the womb.  So if you are eating something but hating every minute of it, you might be causing yourself an issue in the future.  Stick to lots of fruits that you enjoy, if you can’t stomach fish then get your omega 3 from avocado and olive oil.  Whilst nuts are packed with omega 3 too, some doctors suggest we should refrain from eating them whilst pregnant due to the rise in allergies.  Eat what you love, don’t shy away from strong flavours, and really enjoy what you eat.

Once our children are born and moving away from breast milk, we can help develop their tastes even more.  Many parents believe in sticking to the shop bought foods and will soon find their baby has a few favourite flavours.  This is great and will certainly make mealtime a little easier, however it is also forming bad eating habits.  Babies don’t know what is good for them.  It is your responsibility to teach them.  So, instead of sticking to shop bought foods, include some homemade baby food in their diet.  It is actually really simple as all it is, is food that has been whizzed down until it is smooth.  Keep a stock of their favourites for the days where you can sense they aren’t in the mood. You want them to have a good relationship with mealtimes.  So if you  are battling to get something different into them, you will create an issue.  Instead notice times where they are in great moods (this does happen more often than you think) and then offer them up something a little different.  You can even mix new flavours with the ones they already love.

There is a fantastic book, written by Niki Segnit, called the Flavour Thesaurus.  This takes a different spin on the colour wheel.  Instead it is a flavour wheel and shows all the different foods which go together.  You may be surprised by some.  It is a must have book for any budding chef, but will also help you create some delicious baby foods using your baby’s favourite flavour as a back note.  Such as apple.  Apple is quite loved by most babies, but you can add a variety of foods to it to help add extra nutrition.  You could add beetroot for example, a flavour which is quite earthy and many baby’s would find too strong.  By adding a little more apple and increasing the amount of beetroot each time, you could introduce this flavour gently.  You can also mix apple with cabbage, celery and a variety of meats too including pork, liver and some shellfish.  Although consider reserving shellfish until your child is older as, again, allergies to this can be very dramatic in a baby.

Sweet potato is another great way of including flavours into your diet and you could create lots of recipes for yourself, in solid form, before blitzing them down for baby to enjoy.  Include lots of fresh herbs, not dried as these could be hard to digest until baby is older.  Also don’t shy away from including exciting spices too.  We tend to presume our babies won’t want to eat a delicate korma, however in India babies are given beautifully spiced foods from a very young age.  So if you had a taste for indian food when you are pregnant, give it a try as you develop their mealtimes.  

Of course, none of this ensures you will have trouble free toddler mealtimes, however it is going to give you the very best start.  As you move into the toddler years you need to up your game, using raw vegetables and creating interesting dips will allow your child to get messy and be in control, which is really what being a 3 year old is all about.  Try making homemade hummus but smoothing it out a little with yoghurt or, better still, a little avocado.  

Taking control of our babies tastes and nutrition starts before we even imagine.  So make sure you are on top of things from the offset and don’t just focus on the things you should avoid, think about all the nutrition and flavours you want your child to enjoy and make a real deal out of eating those.  

You will give yourself a great head start when it comes to the more tricky years and ensure your child has the very best start in life! 

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