Healthy Eating for Children
We are encouraging children at Country Buddies to Eat well this term!
The Eat well message aims to promote:
· Enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods
· Enjoying healthy snacks
· Limiting sugary foods and sweets, especially between meals.
Suitable for children 0 to 3 years
In the first 6 months of life, your baby’s food is breast milk or infant formula. At around 6 months of age children can start to eat solid foods and by 12 months of age they should be enjoying a wide variety of healthy foods similar to the rest of the family.
For healthy teeth:
· Put baby to bed without a bottle or take the bottle away when your baby has finished feeding. Putting baby to sleep while drinking from a bottle is a choking risk as well as increasing the risk of an ear infection and tooth decay. When babies fall asleep with a bottle some milk stays in their mouth and on the teeth which can lead to tooth decay.
· When your baby is finished feeding, remove your baby from the breast or bottle.
· Only use bottles for expressed breast milk,infant formula or cooled boiled water. Never put anything sweet in a feeding bottle.
· Introduce a cup at 6 months of age and stop feeding bottles by 12 months of age. After 12 months of age offer drinks in a cup.
· Introduce healthy ‘first foods’ and don’t add sugar or honey. As long as iron-rich foods are included in first foods, you can introduce foods in any order. The texture of foods should be suitable for your baby’s stage of development. Start with purees and go on to lumpy then to normal textures between 6 and 12 months of age. Different textures are important to help babies learn how to chew.
· For toddlers and older children, avoid sweet foods and drinks, especially between meals.
For more information about healthy eating, visit www.eatforhealth.gov.au or talk to your maternal and child health nurse or family doctor.
Suitable for children up to 6 years
Healthy eating contributes to good oral health. Offer your child healthy foods from a young age to help establish healthy eating patterns that will be with them for life.
Breast feeding is a healthy way to feed your baby and breast milk provides all of the nutrients your baby needs. Babies can also be fed using an infant formula. Breast milk or infant formula or should be your baby’s only food for around the first 6 months of life. Solid foods should be introduced at around 6 months of age. When solids are introduced, breast feeding should be continued until 12 months and beyond, for as long as the mother and child desire. It is important that you do not put your baby to sleep with a bottle, as the milk stays in the mouth and on the teeth and this can cause tooth decay.
After 6 months of age, you can start to introduce your baby to solids. As long as iron-rich foods are included in first foods, foods can be introduced in any order and at a rate that suits the infant. Iron-rich foods include iron-enriched infant cereals, pureed meat, poultry and fish, or cooked tofu and legumes. Vegetables,fruits and dairy products such as full-fat yoghurt, cheese and custard can then be added.
From 6 to 12 months of age children can start to drink from a cup. Drinking from a cup is a part of growing up for babies, and helps get children used to drinking water and plain milk which are good for healthy and strong teeth.
It is important to offer toddlers the same healthy foods as the family, with a variety of textures and flavours. Foods and drinks that are high in sugar can lead to tooth decay, and so these should be avoided.
Toddlers may prefer small main meals and regular snacks rather than the traditional meal pattern. You can offer toddlers nutritious snacks such as fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, cheese and dry biscuits and healthy sandwiches. Allow a 1 and a half to two hour break between each meal and snack. This gives teeth time to recover from the acid made by food and drinks.
After 12 months your child should use a cup for drinking.Your child can drink tap water or plain full fat milk from a cup.
18 months – 6years
As children begin to attend early childhood services such as long day care and kindergarten, they begin to take on a new routine. It is important that children are offered regular meals, snacks and water to keep them healthy and active.
Children need a variety of foods including fruit and vegetables, legumes and beans, grains and cereals, meat, fish, chicken and eggs and plain milk, cheese and yoghurt. After the age of 2 years, you can offer children reduced fat dairy options.
Foods that are high in sugar should be avoided as these can lead to tooth decay.
Sweet drinks such as juice, cordial, soft drink and sports drinks are not needed. Caffeinated drinks, tea, coffee and herbal drinksare not recommended for children. Ensure that you choose plain milk rather than flavoured milk which contains added sugars.
Did you know?
Your baby will develop a preference for sweet tasting foods and drinks if he or she has sweet foods and drinks regularly.
Suitable for children up to 5 years
· Role modelling is essential. Children need to see their parents; carers and siblings enjoy fruit and vegetables as part of their everyday life.
· Offer fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways. Children sometimes need to be offered a new food over 10 times before they are ready to try it!
· Children may refuse new foods if the meal time is stressful, so focus on the positives and try to avoid arguments over food.
· Take time to eat together and relax at mealtimes.
· If possible, avoid offering alternatives to the meal you have prepared. Children will learn to accept the meal offered if nothing else is available.
· Always include vegetables with every meal.Children should be encouraged to try vegetables, but left to decide whether toeat them or not. Sometimes children need to be offered a new food over 10 times before they’re ready to try it!
Suitable for children up to 5 years
Healthy snacks are important for healthy teeth. Children begin to eat solid foods from around 6 months of age, and from 12 months of age children should be enjoying a wide variety of healthy foods similar to the rest of the family.
Young children may prefer to have regular snacks and small meals. Offer your child small serves to start, and give more if they are still hungry. Children should eat according to their appetite and enjoy eating with their family. Teeth need a rest between meals to recover from the acid produced when we eat and drink.Allow 1.5 to 2 hours between meals and snacks, to allow teeth to recover.
Children should eat nutritious foods from the five food groups every day. Healthy snacks include fresh fruit and vegetables, yoghurt,cheese and dry biscuits and healthy sandwiches. Dried fruits such as sultanas,apricots and apples have had most of the water removed in the drying process and have higher concentration of sugar than fresh fruit. These should only be consumed in small amounts. Dried fruit is also sticky and can stay on teeth fora longer time, increasing risk of tooth decay.
Young children aged 3 years and under are at a risk of choking on small hard objects so foods such as hard pieces of carrot and apple should be cooked or grated to prevent choking.
Offering healthy meals and snacks throughout the day is important. If children are hungry outside of set meal times, provide a healthy snack such as a piece of fresh fruit, sandwich or piece of cheese together with a glass of tap water.
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