What’s happening this fortnight
At the start of weaning, most mums are full of good intentions. The only foods on the menu will be home-cooked and organic, and your baby won’t even know what a crisp or a chocolate biscuit looks like until her fifth birthday. The reality, of course, is somewhat different. And at this age, it’s all too easy to rely on crisps and biscuits as a no-effort option at snack time.
Snacks are an essential part of your baby’s diet, helping to keep her energy levels topped up from one mealtime to the next, but it’s important to keep them healthy. Many convenience foods such as crisps, sweets and even biscuits are high in salt which can be damaging to your baby’s kidneys, and may also contain E numbers that are linked to health and behavioural problems in children. It’s also best to avoid giving sugary snacks: these can encourage a sweet tooth and in the long run, lead to dental problems and even childhood obesity.
So what should you be giving your baby for snacks? Well, fruit and veg are always a good bet: they’re full of essential vitamins and minerals and by giving them at snack time, you’ll be helping your baby to get her five-a-day. You could also offer small pots of yoghurt or fromage frais, oatcakes with cream cheese, pitta bread soldiers with houmous, a tub of dry sugar-free cereal: the choices are endless.
If you’re looking for a convenience option, then take a trip down the baby food aisle in your local supermarket. The shelves are full of tasty treats like cereal bars, fruit bars, biscuits, rusks and crisp-type snacks, all designed to be safe and appealing for babies. Just remember that although babies are natural grazers, eating all day long will spoil her appetite for her main meals, so stick to a healthy snack with a drink mid-morning and mid-afternoon to ensure she still has room for dinner.
Did you know…?
Feeding on the go can be challenging at this age, as your baby is more interested in what’s going on around her than what’s on his plate. Cut the stress by packing a finger-food lunchbox with, for example, little sandwiches, rice cakes, slices of cucumber and chopped fruit so she can graze as and when she wants.
What to watch out for
Now that your baby is having bigger meals and more regular snacks, she’s likely to be dropping her milk feeds. This is a natural part of the weaning process. The amount of milk she needs is gradually decreasing, and from one to three years, she’ll need roughly 300ml of milk per day, alongside solids.
With your baby drinking less milk, you’ll need to find other ways to keep her hydrated. Sugary and fizzy drinks are bad for her growing teeth, so stick to milk or water wherever possible. If you do give her fruit juice, it should be diluted one part juice to 10 parts water, and never give it from a bottle: this causes the juice to pool around the teeth, leading to cavities.