People keep asking me about doing blogs on HOW to get extra nutrients into baby and toddler’s diets. It’s such a great point as it’s something I work on every day when I’m creating meals for Raffy. It’s not about “sneaking” veggies etc into meals as I’m really not a massive fan of that as I don’t think it helps children to build much of a relationship with the food they are eating. (However if you do this AND still offer the food visually this can be a way to kill two birds with one stone).
However, when I’m feeding Raffy I always think about the nutrients and the foods that I’m including.
I’ve written posts before on iron, folate and fish for young kids and suggested what foods need to be included to help meet the recommendations for these nutrients. My plan is to continue writing these posts for parents throughout the next year and to help parents feel confident that they know how to provide a balanced diet for kids.
It’s not always about meeting every nutrient every time BUT ticking off each of the food groups on most days can really help. These include:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Protein/iron rich foods
- Dairy Foods
For me there are so many savvy (and, importantly, easy) ways to balance out meals and to include the little extras into children’s diets without being sneaky or having to really over think what you’re doing.
My plan is to turn this into a series about how to balance out and top up the nutrients in each mealtime and eating occasion. So here goes for my first one starting with (of course) BREAKFAST!
Here are some of my top tips for including more nutrients into baby and toddler’s breakfasts:
Porridge – I’ve written before about porridge and what a wonderful food it is. It’s SO easy to use porridge to top up nutrient intakes and to add fruits and veggies in. Some of the extras I include in porridge (or cereals for that matter) include:
- Mashed pear/apple
- Frozen fruits
- Vegetables such as beetroot and carrot
- Dried fruits such as dates and apricots (if you’re worried about constipation for example)
- Yogurt if you’re worried about weight going down or dairy intakes (not normally necessary for most children who are getting lots of milk in their diet, but I sometimes add it into raffy’s porridge if he hasn’t been eating well or hasn’t had much dairy in the days before).
- Milled seeds and nuts – a great way to add extra nutrients and omega-3. I love using packs of milled linseeds which often come alongside milled berries and chia seeds too. This is such a good way to add in extras in the morning without changing much about their favourite cereal or porridge.
- Nut butters – using no added sugar and salt nut butters is a great way of adding a delicious flavour throughout baby’s porridge, as well as adding some extra nutrients in.
The same as above also applies to breakfast cereals as I like to jazz it up when it comes to these too. It’s best to try to opt for ones with no-added-sugars for little ones, I’ve written a blog about this previously as well – Breakfast cereals you CAN give to kids. Also it’s a good idea to opt for cereals that are fortified so you’re getting extra nutrients from them too. If you’re offering cereals to babies and toddlers, why not try adding a handful of oats, which can add to the texture of the food they are having but also offers a source of wholegrains, beta glucans and some extra fibre to their morning.
Think outside the box when it comes to toast – don’t just rely on jam and butter. Why not try no added sugar peanut butter and jam or try your little one with a thin spread of marmite, which contains B vitamins. Also try to offer fruit alongside a slice of toast if it doesn’t work using it as a topping.
Remember that baked beans (I choose low sugar and low salt ones or make my own or wash off some of the sauce and add tomato puree first), scrambled egg and mashed avocado are also great toppings for toast in the morning. They are also really simple to whip together. If you’re looking for a dairy option cream cheese can also work and this goes really well with some mashed avocado in the morning.
When I’m adding egg, avocado or cream cheese I’ll also often think about adding herbs and spices too. Paprika goes really well with scrambled egg and a little chilli flakes and lemon go nicely with guacamole and dill or parsley go well with cream cheese. These added extras are not going to hugely change the nutritional profile of the food but it’s helping your little one to get used to different tastes and flavours and also helps to add a few nutrients here and there too.
Next up: I’ll write about lunches and snacks and how to get the extras into these.
Please let me know if you have anything to add to my “getting the extras in” breakfast post.