23 Oct Top Ten Foods for Young Children
Taken from my book Baby Led Weaning Step by Step.
These foods have been chosen specifically for their nutrient levels. Incorporating them into your child’s diet on a regular basis will ensure that they receive an abundance of health promoting vitamins, minerals and essential fats.
Bake; chip; mash; roast; and use in soups.
Children love this food with its orange flesh and lovely sweet skin.
- High in vitamin A (beta-carotene) and C, making it a great food for eye health.
- High in fibre, which helps the digestive system.
- Packed with antioxidants, which offers protection against many diseases.
- Contains a good range of B vitamins, which are essential for growth and development.
- A slow sugar release food which means you avoid peaks in blood sugar levels and maintain your energy for longer (a low glycaemia food).
Mashed avocado on toast is a great snack.
- A high protein fruit containing all essential amino acids needed for growth and repair.
- High in essential fats and vitamin E which help keep blood thin, cholesterol low and the brain and heart healthy.
- Eaten with other foods it aids digestion.
- Contains vitamin K to make sure bones grow properly.
Simply quarter this fruit with the skin left on and let them eat the insides.
When using kiwi in a smoothie leave the skin on as it is full of nutrients and they will not notice the difference. You can make a thick smoothie for your baby to eat with a spoon or give them a small (open topped Doidy) cup to try and drink from.
- Contains more vitamin C than oranges, which is vital for the immune system and for helping the absorption of iron.
Use as a snack; add to meat dishes – lamb with apricots is really delicious; also great in cakes and biscuits.
- A good source of iron and potassium.
- High in beta-carotene essential for growth, immunity and eye health.
Buy the unsulphured variety if your child is asthmatic as this additive can be a trigger.
Use as a healthy alternative to potato, rice, pasta and couscous. Try it cooked in orange juice with raisins.
Most supermarkets now stock this product, an ancient grain which has been around for thousands of years.
- Contains all nine essential amino acids, important for growth and repair.
- Contains calcium, magnesium, potassium and B3.
- Is a gluten free grain and extremely good for the digestive system.
You can use these ground for children under three and add it to their porridge or breakfast cereal or use as a nut butter. You can buy nut butters in health food shops or simply blend the nuts until they are a spreadable consistency and put them on rice cakes, bread or crackers. I use ground almonds in some of my dinner recipes. I also use almond milk.
Contains essential fats which help keep the cardiovascular system healthy.
- A good source of calcium needed for strong and healthy bones.
- High in vitamin E which helps to keep the blood thin.
- A nutrient rich food including vitamins and the minerals magnesium and potassium.
Homemade hummus is a fantastic food for children. You can use it in so many ways; instead of mayonnaise; as a sandwich filling with grated carrot; as a jacket potato filling; or simply add a dollop to chilli and rice.
Mash chickpeas, olive oil, tahini (ground sesame seeds), garlic, lemon juice and paprika together, or whizz in a blender for a smoother consistency.
You can buy it ready-made, although the nutrient content will be much less and remember to check the salt content.
- High in fibre
- Good source of protein
- Full of essential fats, vitamins and minerals including calcium
Salmon (or any oily fish)
In the early days of weaning if you steam salmon and mix it with some mashed potato you can easily load it onto a spoon for your baby to eat.
Make into fish fingers; fishcakes; and use left-over salmon mixed with a little hummus to make a delicious sandwich filling.
- Contains omega 3 fats which are essential for the brain, heart and immune system.
- Omega 3 also acts as an anti-inflammatory – important for conditions like eczema and asthma.
It is important to note that the body cannot make Omega 3 fats, so they must come from food. Omega 3 is also found in mackerel, tuna, herring, trout and sardines.
Make porridge, pancakes and flapjacks.
- High in fibre.
- Contain a good supply of vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients.
- Contains Beta glucans which are important for keeping bad cholesterol levels down.
- Oats release their sugar slowly avoiding peaks in blood sugar levels and maintaining energy for longer.
Until your child has some teeth, green leafy foods can be difficult for them to eat. One of the best way to include them in their diet is in a smoothie or home-made lolly. Simply add a handful to any blended fruits and they will never know it is there.
- Contains the minerals iron, magnesium and calcium.
- Contains the vitamins folic acid, B-vitamins and vitamin C.
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