Q&A: Which foods are best for making my child grow?

Our expert guide to the foods your child needs to grow big and strong

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There’s no one magic food for making your child grow: it’s important to include all the food groups in the correct proportions for optimum growth and development. Like adults, babies need protein foods for growth and development, carbohydrates for energy and fats for the absorption of some vitamins, brain development and function. If your child eats a wide range of foods, she’s also more likely to get the correct balance of vitamins and minerals required for growth and good health.

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Proteins are found in animal products such as meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, seeds, lentils and pulses. Carbohydrates are found in fruit, vegetables, grains, pasta, rice, potatoes and bread. Fats are found in eggs, meat, fish, dairy and seeds. The exact amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fat your baby or toddler needs will depend on her age, but you should try to include something from each of these groups at every mealtime. There are also certain fats that are essential for health; these are found in oily fish such as salmon and fresh tuna, seeds and cold pressed oils such as olive oil.

Remember that babies and toddlers have small stomachs. To make sure your child takes on enough calories throughout the day to fuel her growth, ensure she gets enough milk feeds: she needs around 600ml (1 pint) per day before 12 months. Beyond 12 months, solids will replace milk as the main source of nutrition, but she should still have around 300ml (half a pint) of milk a day, alongside three meals and two or three healthy snacks.

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Answered by: Ceri Morgan and Ann Souter, nutritional therapists, www.recipeforhealth.co.uk

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