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Categories
nutrition and cooking

Recipes for baby

Categories
nutrition and cooking

Nutrition glossary

Children are at particular risk for developing allergies if parents or siblings have or have had allergic conditions (asthma, hayfever, atopic eczema (childhood eczema) and food allergies), which have been diagnosed by a doctor.

The Danish Department of Health recommends the following for children at particular risk for developing allergies:

Until the child is at least 4 months, every effort should be made to breastfeed the child only. If that is not possible, the recommendation is highly hydrolyzed formula.

After the first 4 months of life, the recommendations are the same as for all other children: Continue breastfeeding up to age 1 (or preferably longer), which may be supplemented by regular formula. Do not offer food by spoon until the child is at least 4 months old, at which time it can be offered without any special precautions as for all other children. Once the child is older than 4 months, diet and special formula have no preventive effect on developing allergies, regardless if the child is at risk for developing allergies.

If you suspect that the child is allergic to something in the food, you should contact your home health nurse or your doctor. Only if the doctor finds that the child has developed allergies and prescribes a diet should you feed the child a diet that excludes one or more foods.

Carbohydrates in food provide energy when digested and broken down in the body. This is especially true for starchy and sugary carbohydrates, such as fructose, lactose, and regular white sugar.

Starch is the most important source of energy. Starch occurs naturally in things like potatoes, vegetables, bread, grains, rice, and pasta. But also sugar types found naturally in fruit (fructose) and in milk (lactose) are good sources of energy. Foods that naturally contain starch and sugars are good carbohydrate sources, because they also provide natural dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial substances. Other products contain significant amounts of added sugar. These products are less likely to provide the nutrients needed by the body.

Limit the amount of cinnamon and cinnamon-sugar for infants and small children.

Cinnamon contains a substance called coumarin that can cause liver damage if you consume too much of it.

Instead, put shredded fruit or boiled, puréed fruit on your child’s porridge. Rice porridge with cinnamon and sugar can still be part of a healthy, balanced diet. You may want to go lighter on the cinnamon and heavier on the sugar. Baked goods containing cinnamon should also be given to small children in very limited amounts.

Cow’s milk has a very high protein content and low iron content. It is known that a high protein intake in the first year of life increases the risk of later developing overweight and obesity. Therefore, cow’s milk for drinking is not recommended until after the age of 1. Before the age of 1, the child can eat the family’s food, where milk is included as an ingredient.

Elderberries, raw

Elderberries can be used for things like elderberry soup, juice, and jam, but not for smoothies or for eating raw in any form. Raw, ripe elderberries contain toxins that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Even a few berries can cause poisoning symptoms in children. Since the toxins in elderberries are heat sensitive, raw elderberries for children must always be boiled between 15 and 20 minutes. After that, there is no longer a danger of poisoning.

The amount of energy in food is also called energy density. Water and dietary fiber reduce energy density in foods, while fat, sugar, and starch increase energy density.

If the energy density is low, small children must eat large amounts of food in order to meet their energy requirements. Energy density in food can be so low that the child can’t eat the amounts of food needed to meet energy requirements, risking inadequate growth in the child.

Examples of foods with low energy density are thin porridges or porridge made only with water and grains or vegetables puréed only with the water used to boil them. Often, puréed fruit has low energy density as well. One exception is mashed bananas and mashed avocados.

Fat is the nutrient that provides the most energy per gram. Therefore, if you want to increase energy density, you will want to increase the fat content in the food. This is the basis for recommending that the fat content of food for infants is higher than in the food for everyone else.

For older children and adults, the issues are different. Here, high energy density will increase the risk for developing obesity. Cake and candy have high energy density, but they do not contribute vitamins and minerals.

The energy in food is provided by fat, carbohydrates, and protein.

Fats in the child’s food

First and foremost, fat is an important source of energy in the food. Furthermore, fat contributes fatty acids that are important for forming new cells in the body and for various hormones.

The following recommendations should ensure that the child’s first foods contain sufficient energy:

  • Add fats and formula (may be powdered) to homemade porridge and purée.
  • Do not add extra fats to off-the-shelf porridges and baby food in jars, as the energy content is already high enough.

Instead of formula, you can obviously use pumped breastmilk for the porridge. Use breastmilk or formula instead of milk types with a lower fat content between the ages of 6 and 12 months.

The fats you add may be butter, margarine, or oil. It is best, if the fat in porridge and purée isn’t always butter, since the child already receives quite a bit of this type of fat through breastmilk.

Fish contains good nutrients, such as vitamin D, iodine, selenium, and fatty acids, which are not as prolific in other foods. Fatty fish in particular contain wholesome fish oils (N-3 fatty acids) and vitamin D. Both children and adults benefit from eating various types of fish in sandwiches and fish for dinner at least twice a week. It is a good idea to switch back and forth between fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel, and lean fish like pollock, flounder, plaice, and cod.

However, the child should not eat large predatory fish like tuna (steaks), pike, halibut, sword fish, perch, zander, butterfish, harvest fish, ray, and shark because of the quicksilver content. Nor should the child eat canned tuna before the age of 3.

It may be an advantage to prepare large portions of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit and freeze them in smaller portions appropriate for the child to eat in one sitting.

Make sure that the packaging is appropriate for storing and freezing food. This may be indicated by the “Glass and fork symbol” and the “Ice crystal symbol”, or it may say “For food” and “For freezing”. Also, it is important to read any instructions for use.

Ensure also that cooling and freezing of the food is done quickly. Here, the size and form of the portions is critical (should be small and/or flat).

Cool the food quickly after preparing. This is done most quickly by dividing the food into smaller portions, which you refrigerate until they are cold enough to put into the freezer.

  • You may want to use ice cube trays or small plastic cups placed in a freezer bag to freeze the food. But make sure the containers are appropriate for freezing food.
  • Store the food for no more than 1 month and keep the temperature at -18°C or lower.
  • Thaw meat and fish in a bowl in the refrigerator. Thawing in a plastic bag in cold water is an option if you are in a hurry. Thawing in warm water is not recommended due to rapid bacteria growth.
  • Thaw fruit and veggies directly in the cooking pot before use. This is the best way to preserrve the taste, as well as vitamins and minerals.
  • Make sure the food tastes good by always tasting it yourself first, but don’t use the child’s spoon.

Never refreeze food that has been thawed. Especially not food for your infant. Food must be discarded if previously frozen.

In principle, porridge could be frozen in small portions as well. But don’t add formula to the porridge until after it has thawed.

We recommend that parents boil frozen raspberries for one minute before eating or using in dishes that are not heat-treated afterwards. If you want to be completely sure to avoid infection from other frozen berries, you need to boil those as well.

The reason you should boil berries is because they can carry virus. The recommendation is strictly for frozen, not fresh, berries. Always rinse fresh berries and fruit with water before eating. That way you remove any virus and germs in whole or in part. Virus from berries can cause malaise, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, and a low-grade fever. The disease is best known as norovirus.

In people who are predisposed, gluten can cause Celiac disease. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated, it makes the bowels unable to absorb many necessary nutrients. People with Celiac disease must eat a gluten-free diet for life. There is no documentation for a preventive effect from not introducing gluten until after the child is 6 months of age.

Gluten is found in the grain products wheat, rye, barley, and oats. The content in wheat is significantly higher than in the other three grain types.

Corn, rice, buckwheat, and millet do not contain gluten. Semolina is made from wheat grain. Spelt is also a kind of wheat, and therefore contains gluten. Industrially produced wholegrain porridge has a high content of wheat. Porridge made from flour and flakes containing gluten should be introduced for variety with porridge not containing gluten and in increasing quantities.

When choosing bread for the child, it is great if it’s a bit dense and made from wholegrain flour. But that doesn’t mean you should go for bread where you can see whole grains. Children need dietary fiber from the food they eat, among other reasons because dietary fiber contributes to keeping the stomach regular. Dietary fiber is supplied from fruit and vegetables and from grain products, especially from bread made from coarse flour and from oatmeal.

Dietary fiber is found in the husk of the grain. Coarse flour is made from whole grains that have been ground and rolled, so the dietary fiber of the husk has been included. These are rye flour, graham flour, whole-wheat flour and oatmeal. Even if you don’t see whole grains in the bread, it still contains dietary fiber.

Many kinds of rye bread and wholegrain bread also contain whole grain that have not been ground or rolled. They may be whole rye or wheat grain, but they may also be sunflower seeds or flax seeds. They can taste good, but if you don’t chew the grains thoroughly, they come out the other end in one piece. For this reason, small children do not benefit from whole grains, and if they get too many it will cause very loose stools.

Flax seeds and sunflower seeds have a fairly high content of the heavy metal cadmium that gets concentrated in the body and which, in the long term, can be damaging, especially to the kidneys. Therefore, these seeds should not be consumed in excess quantities. Other oily seeds like sesame seeds, piños, pumpkin seeds, and poppyseeds have significantly lower cadmium content than sunflower seeds and flax seeds.

In order to limit the cadmium intake from oily seeds like sunflower seeds and flax seeds, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration makes this general recommendation for everyone:

  • Sunflower seeds and flax seeds should not be eaten in large quantities, but they may be used in limited amounts for things like bread.
  • Sunflower oil and flax oil can be used the same as any plant oil, since there is no cadmium in the oil.

Remember the general dietary advice about eating a balanced diet. This is also true for bread and cereals. About half can be pumpernickelbread and oatmeal. And the rest can vary between other types of coarse bread and finer white bread.

Do not use ‘green garnish’ on hot food for infants and small children. Fresh herbs and leafy vegetables can only be used in hot foods if they are cooked with the rest of the dish or used in stuffing or ground meat that will be fried or baked thoroughly.

Parsley, chives, and other leafy greens may be contaminated with soil and, as such, soil bacteria – even after thorough washing. When food is kept warm or left at room temperature, bacteria can grow, resulting in nitrite. Infants and small children can eat ‘green garnish’ on cold foods, but all leftovers with green garnish must be discarded.

Honey is not recommended for children under 1 year of age due to the risk of infant botulism. Honey can contain bacteria spores, which, in the digestive system of infants taking breastmilk or formula, may multiply and develop the toxin that causes the disease.

Infant botulism is a serious poisoning that can be avoided by not giving honey until the child is a year old. The bacteria spores are not as dangerous for children over age 1 and adults.

Fluorinated substances – Some fluorinated substances are under suspicion of being hormone-disrupting. These substances can be used to make cardboard and paper water- and grease-repellent and can therefore be found in things like baking paper. You can’t always tell from looking at baking paper if it has been treated with fluorinated substances. If you want to be totally sure to avoid these substances, you can choose Swan-marked baking paper.

Bisphenol A – Bisphenol A is another hormone-disrupting substance. You find it in places like the varnish on the inside of cans and metal lids (such as lids for glass jars). However, bisphenol A is not used in all cans – for instance, all fish products produced in Denmark are typically packed in cans that do not contain bisphenol A.

When possible, you should choose packaging that has no bisphenol A content – especially for children and pregnant women. In Denmark, bisphenol A is banned in all packaging materials for children between the ages of 0 and 3 years, including baby bottles, sippy cups, and packaging for food that is intended specifically for small children, such as baby food in jars. One way to reduce your intake of bisphenol A is to buy food in cartons rather than in cans.

Children born to term are born with iron depots, which, combined with the iron content in breastmilk, can meet the child’s need for iron for the first 6 months, after which the iron depots become depleted.

From 6 months of age, it is important to offer the child iron-rich foods at most meals – even snacks.

Iron-rich foods are things like meat and fish, eggs, vegetables, legumes, porridge, and coarse bread. You may want to vary the porridge offerings by adding industrially produced porridge products enriched with iron.

It is helpful to serve fruit with iron-rich foods. Citrus fruits, apples, pears, and most other fruits contain vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the iron from the rest of the foods the child eats.

If the child is not breastfed, they should drink formula from a bottle and a cup. Formula is enriched with iron, making it a great supplement to the child’s diet during transition.

Children eating vegetarian food while being breastfed throughout the transition should take an iron supplement in drop form, about 8 mg a day, until the age of 1.

Children born prematurely needs supplemental iron. Furthermore, you need to offer them iron-rich foods from the age of 6 months like all other children. You might want to consult your home health nurse if you are not sure whether your child should get supplemental iron.

Cow’s milk has low iron content that is poorly absorbed in the body, and it should not be given until after the age of 1.

Good kitchen hygiene is all about handling foods in hygienic ways to prevent getting sick from eating the food. Good kitchen hygiene is particularly important when preparing food for infants, who can easily come down with stomach trouble because they have less resistance to bacteria than older children and adults do.

Tips for good kitchen hygiene:

  • Refrigerate purchased food as soon as you bring it home
  • Wash your hands before preparing food – and when switching between different foods and work processes
  • Avoid spreading bacterier between raw foods, e.g. don’t use the same utensils for meat and vegetables, nor for raw and off-the-shelf food.
  • Thaw frozen foods in a bowl in the refrigerator and make sure they are not dripping unto other foods.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

It is important to handle leftovers correctly, so you avoid spoiled food. If some of the food is intended for eating the following day, set aside the portion you want to save and put only the portion on the table that you will be eating.

Quick cooling

  • Hot food should either be eaten or refrigerated. Food to be saved for later must be cooled down to 10°C within no more than 3 hours.
  • Warm leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as they stop giving off steam. Stir the dish to cool it faster. Larger portions of newly prepared food are best cooled by placing the dish/bowl in a basin of constantly ice-cold water. You can also divide the food between smaller bowls to make it cool faster.
  • Cold leftovers, e.g. for sandwiches, should be refrigerated immediately.
  • Don’t keep food warm for someone eating later. Refrigerate the food and warm it back up just before eating.

Reheat to boiling

  • Reheat the food until boiling. It is not enough to get the food lukewarm. Stir the food to distribute the heat until it is all boiling.
  • Excess hot food containing fresh herbs and leafy vegetables, such as spinach quiche, parsley sauce, and creamed cabbage, can be reheated as long as the hygeine guidelines listed above are observed.

Discard

  • Always discard excess cold food with green garnish.
  • Only plate the amount of food the child can eat and throw away whatever the child doesn’t eat, as it may be contaminated with germs from the child’s mouth.

Microwaveovens heat food unevenly. Follow the directions and stir food before serving.

Some vegetables have a high content of nitrate – this applies to veggies like spinach, beets, fennel, and celery.

It is a known fact that infants are particularly sensitive to nitrate in the first months of life. Therefore, the recommendation is to hold off on giving the above-mentioned vegetables to the child until they is older than 6 months. Once the child is between 6 and 12 months of age, nitrate-rich vegetables should only be equal to about 1/10 of each portion. If they constitute a larger share of the meal, they should only be served for the child occasionally, about every two weeks.

Nitrate is easily converted to nitrite. Nitrite in large amounts cause vomiting and a blue tint to the skin, because nitrite reacts with the hemoglobin in the blood, which then can no longer bind and transport oxygen around the body.

You will want to give your child organ meats from calves and pigs from time to time, even if you may not care for it yourself.

Liver: Wipe the blood of a slice of liver and cut or pull off any membranes. Boil the slice of liver, either whole, cut into strips, or cut into bite-sized pieces. Boil it only briefly, about 5 min. for strips. Cut the meat to see if it is cooked through. Cooking the meat for too long makes it tough and dry. Depending on the child’s age and ability to chew, the boiled liver can be blended (with a little of the cooking water) or cut into small pieces. Excess liver can be frozen.

Heart: Rinse the heart thoroughly in cold water. Cut it in half and remove blood and sinews. Cut the heart into thin strips and boil it for about 20-30 min. until tender. Excess heart can be frozen.

Children who are born too early (premature children), have smaller stores of vitamins and minerals in the body compare to children born full-term. Therefore, there are special recommendations for supplements in premature children. How long you provide an iron supplement depends both on the week the child was born and on birth weight. Consult your doctor or your home health nurse about how long your child needs an iron supplement and about how much they needs.

It may be difficult to describe precisely when a child should start to get foods in addition to breastmilk.

It depends in part on the child’s development and appetite and how prematurely the child was born. Talk to your doctor or your home health nurse, once you feel your child needs to start eating foods other than breastmilk or formula.

Protein is important for the child’s growth. Insufficient protein in the diet will stunt growth. It is important that the child get enough protein to meet this need during the first year, when growth is particularly rapid. Protein is necessary for building and maintaining all the cells of the body and for producing hormones and enzymes. Breastmilk and formula have a protein content that matches the child’s needs for the first 4-6 months.

Too much protein in the child’s first year of life can increase the risk of becoming overweight later in life. The protein content in whole milk is about three times that of breastmilk and formula, which is why only breastmilk and formula are recommended during the child’s first year of life. This is also why dairy products with high protein content should be avoided for children under age 2. These are skyr and fromage frais, junket and ylette, quark (incl. fruit quark), and cottage cheese.

From 9 months of age, the child can have sour milk products based on whole milk, such as A38 or yogurt as part of a balanced diet. Start by giving ½ dl and increase to 1 dl at the age of 1. Meat, fish, and cheese have a high protein content as well, but there are no recommendatins for limiting them, as the child will naturally eat these things in small quantities. Furthermore, meat and fish contribute to covering the recommended allowance for iron and other nutrients. Protein is also supplied from cereals and legumes, such as dried beans and lentils.

You can give quinoa porridge for variety with other porridges. But because of the high protein content in quinoa, it shouldn’t be the very first porridge introduced to the child. As first choice, we recommend common porridge products based on corn, millet, and buckwheat, which are low in protein.

Quinoa seeds can be used as other grains. Unlike things like rye, wheat, and barley, quinoa does not contain gluten. Like millet and oats, quinoa seeds are relatively rich in protein. The whole grain has long been used in porridge, gruel, and soups. The seeds can also be ground into flour for use in baking bread.

Different sorts of quinoa contain various levels of bitter-tasting saponins, which can be harmful to your health, although more study is needed.

It is uncertain whether saponins break down during cooking or baking. You can reduce the content of saponins by husking, scrubbing, and washing the seeds. Since husked seeds have a lower content of saponins than seeds with husks, you should use husked seeds.

Children should only eat raisins in small portions, and not every day. Small children under the age of 3 should eat no more than 50 g raisins a week, while older children can eat more raisins.

Raisins can have a high content of the antifungal substance Ochratoxin A, which comes from mold and is a carcinogenic. It doesn’t matter if children eat a lot of raisins one day and again the next day. It is the total consumption over a length of time that needs to be limited.

Other dried fruits do not pose the same problem.

Rhubarb is great for things like porridge, compote, soup, and marmalade. If you use rhubarb more than very occasionally, you will want to add ‘Nonoxal’ (calcium chloride) while cooking. It prevents the rhubarb juice from reacting with calcium in the body, which can otherwise cause an unpleasant dental reaction. Foods containing large amounts of oxalic acid can hinder the absorptin of calcium from the bowels.

  • Vary between different types of porridge and make sure the child does not get rice-based porridge every day.
  • Avoid giving the child rice milk and rice cakes.

Rice contains arsenic, which can cause cancer. Essentially, arsenic is no more dangerous for children than for adults. But since children eat more compared to their slight bodyweight, their arsenic intake can be relatively higher compared to that of adults.

All children must have supplemental vitamin D up until the age of 2, and some for longer. Furthermore, children who were born prematurely and children weighing less than 2500 g at birth need supplemental iron. Besides these, supplements and homeopathics are inappropriate and unnecessary for children under the age of 2.

Vegetarian is an umbrella term for people who eat plant foods (fruits and veggies, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, etc.) exclusively, with or without supplementing with dairy products and/or eggs. Vegetarians eat no types of meat, fowl, fish, shellfish, or biproducts from the butchering of animals.

Vegans are people who live plant-based and avoid – to the extend possible – meat, fowl, fish, shellfish, and biproducts from butchering. In addition, they endeavor to avoid animal products like milk, eggs, cheese, leather, fur, wool, honey, products tested on animals, etc.

A vegan diet is not appropriate for infants and small children. The risk of the child not eating a diet with sufficient energy and nutrients is too great, and if that happens it can have dire consequences for the child’s growth and cognitive development. This is particularly true for vitamin B12, as vegetarian foods do not contain this vitamin. Vitamin B12 insufficiency can damage the nervous system, and therefore the brain. The damage is irreversible.

The food often has low energy content while taking up a lot of room on the plate. Small children can have difficulty eating sufficiently large amounts of food to get enough energy from their vegan diet.

Vegetarian diet – If you choose for your child to eat a vegetarian diet, it is important that the child’s food is varied and that it contains both eggs and dairy products. The child should still follow the recommendations for milk that applies to other children. Additionally, the child should eat eggs in reasonable quantities.

In a vegetarian diet, meat and fish should be replaced with lentils, cooked dried beans and other legumes, eggs, and vegetable oil.

In other words, the vegetarian diet should include: • dairy products and eggs • vegetables and fruit • lentils, cooked dried beans and other legumes • potatoes, bread, and cereal products • plant oils • nuts and fatty seeds and grains – finely ground and in limited quantities.

Vegetarian diets must follow the same recommendations for adding fats as diets that include meat and fish. If your child does not eat fish, however, a great deal of the fats must be oils containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as canola oil, but remember it is important to vary the fats you use.

It is recommended that children eating a vegetarian diet who continue to be breastfed during the transition period be given supplemental iron in the form of drops, about 8 mg each day for the entire transition. If the child is not breastfed, they should have formula, in which case the child does not need supplemental iron.

Infants and small children eating a vegetarian diet need the same supplemental vitamin D as other children.

It is recommended that you give children vitamin D supplements in the first 2 years of life. The supplement should be 10 mg per day, given in form of vitamin D drops. You can give the drops on a spoon with a little breastmilk or formula. Don’t mix it into the bottle. If the child gets at least 800 ml per day of formula enriched with at least 1.3 mg vitamin D per 100 ml, however, they does not need the vitamin D supplement. Talk to your home health nurse about it.

For dark-skinned children – and children who usually have their arms and legs covered – the recommendation is to continue with vitamin D throughout their childhood.

Because of the choking risk, you should not give vitamin D in tablet form until the child is 18 months old.

Vitamin D is necessary for bone development, and a lack of vitamin D can cause rickets and soft bones. Vitamin D is supplied through breastmilk (only small amounts), formula, and the foods we eat.

Vitamin D is found mostly in fatty dish, cod roe, meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products.

Infant foods cannot cover the vitamin D requirement, making it necessary to give the child a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D is also formed in the skin through the ultraviolet rays from the sun in the summer season. Infants should not spend time directly in the sun, wherefore they don’t get sufficient sunlight to form enough vitamin D. Dark skin forms vitamin D more slowly, making it necessary for dark-skinned children to continue taking vitamin D supplements throughout their childhood.

There are different kinds of vitamin D products, and they should be stored and dosed in different ways. Read the label to see how the vitamins should be store and how much the child needs – or ask your home health nurse for advice.

Categories
nutrition and cooking

Healthy food for babies

What are healthy food for babies? Read this article if you want the best from the Danish general nitrutional guidelines.

Variety

It is important for everyone – small children as well – to eat a balanced diet. This is because all the vitamins, minerals, and other substances we need are available in very varied amounts in different foods. By eating a little bit of everything, you have the best chance of getting your needs met. You can only call your diet balanced when you switch between different foods within each of these four groups:

  1. Bread, grains, potatoes, rice, pasta

Serve different types of bread and switch between rye and wheat bread. Serve potatoes almost every day, as they contribute several important nutrients. During the transition, potatoes are part of the mashed dinners. For older children, potatoes are part of dinner, cut into bite-sized pieces. It is preferable to serve boiled potatoes rather than fried, or potatoes cooked with cream or cheese. Switch it up once in a while with wholegrain pasta or brown rice as part of a hot meal.

  1. Fruits, vegetables

Offer many different types of fruits and vegetables in many different ways, so the child becomes familiar with the different tastes. Use even those you yourself may not like as much.

  1. Meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs

Lunch and dinner should feature either meat or fish for a sufficiently iron-rich diet. Switch between different types of meat and between different fatty and lean types of fish. Eggs and boiled, dried beans (and other dried legumes) can be part of a varied diet from 6 months of age. Cheese can also be part of the child’s food, but only in small amounts. You can’t serve sour milk products until the child is 9 months old.

Children who eat a vegetarian diet and who continue to be breastfed during the transition should take an iron supplement in drop form, about 8 mg a day until age 1.

  1. A bit of fat

A bit of fat, such as butter, or healthy oil, is also part of a balanced diet, but here the amounts are small compared to other food groups. Vary your fats, but most should be vegetable types such as olive oil, canola oil, avocato oil or walnut oil.

Quantity

How much the child eats depends on his or her age, body size, and activity level. Respect that it is up to the child to decide whether they is hungry and how much they wants to eat.

Physical activity

It is important for the child to have opportunities to be active. Very young children need to spend time on a blanket on the floor, rolling around and practicing crawling. They need opportunities to practice standing and walking. They should practice jumping into the laps of adults and they should spend time playing in the fresh air. Allow slightly older children to walk to and from the car, the bike, and the stroller, when you pick them up at day care. Allow movement to be part of your daily lives. This is especially important for slightly older children. Choose games with movement – both inside and out. It builds good habits.

Eat fruit and plenty of vegetables

Small children must eat fruit and veggies every day, but not in the same quantities as older children and adults. Offer fruit and veggies with most meals of the day, and switch between different types. Choose seasonal fruits and veggies – they are cheaper, and they often offer the best quality.

Hard vegetables should first be boiled, shredded, or finely chopped – e.g. carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Soft vegetables can be served raw – such as peas, corn, peeled tomatoes cut into small pieces, peeled cucumber, grapes cut the long way, and avocado.

Many young children get enough fruit, while they have a harder time with vegetables, especially the firm ones. By serving many different kinds of vegetables and fruit, you will probably also prevent your child from becoming finicky. Remember that you should also offer things you might not like very much, so your child has the opportunity to try everything.

Vegetables and fruits contain many of the minerals and vitamins needed to keep the body healthy and well. Furthermore, vegetables and fruit contain relatively few calories, and especially the coarser vegetables, such as peas, onions, broccoli, root vegetables, and cabbage, contain a lot of dietary fiber.

Puréed vegetables and puréed fruit are part of the transition period. Once the child starts to eat food with the rest of the family, make sure you continue to serve the child a variety of fruits and veggies.

Eat more fish

(but hold off on certain types)

As with older children and adults, you will want to offer the child fish twice a week as a main dish or several times a week in sandwiches. This could be more often, if you really like fish. It is important to offer the child fish, even if you are not fond of fish personally.

Serve a variety of fish. Eat both fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel − and lean fish like cod, pollock, and plaice. We recommend that you don’t give the child canned tuna until after the age of 3, and no more than one regular-sized can of tuna each week. Avoid cans with white tuna or albacore tuna. Tuna steaks and other large predatory fish should not be given to children younger than 14.

Fish contain a lot of important nutrients, such as fatty acids which are important for brain development.

Choose whole grains

(but also other cereal products for young children)

About half of the child’s bread and cereal should be whole grain (preferably rye bread and oatmeal). The remainder can be a variety of other wholegrain breads and finer white bread.

Always choose bread that ‘sticks to your ribs’, i.e. bread that weighs heavy in your hand. However, small children should not eat bread with visible whole or half grains.

Small children benefit from foods high in fiber like oatmeal or rye bread porridge, fruit and veggies, and various kinds of rye bread and whole-wheat bread. But the dietary fiber content shouldn’t be as high as for adults, as the food will fill the stomach to a point where it may be difficult for the child to eat enough food to meet his or her energy requirements.

Keep in mind that the child should not eat rice or rice products every day because of the arsenic content.

Choose lean meats and lunchmeats

(but also higher-fat options for young children)

Let the child join the family in eating food with lean meat incorporated. Meat contains proteins, minerals, and iron. When you choose lean meat, you get the great nutrients from the meat, but less saturated fat. Therefore, choose meat and meat products with no more than 10% fat.

Children under 2 years of age need a little more dietary fat than older children and adults, however. Therefore, you can switch in some slightly fattier meat products for the child, such as braunschweiger. Remember to vary the ways you prepare the meat, and keep in mind that it shouldn’t be fried or grilled until it has a dark crust.

Choose lean dairy products

(but not until 2 years of age)

Small children need slightly higher fat content in dairy products than older children and adults. Choose the type and amount appropriate for the child’s age.

Dairy products contain both protein and many different vitamins and minerals. Among other things, they are important sources for dietary calcium. But dairy products also contain saturated fat. When you choose the lean varieties of dairy products over the high-fat ones, you benefit from great nutrients while getting less saturated fat.

Eat less saturated fat

Saturated fat is found especially in butter and margarine, milk, cheese, and meat.

For children under the age of 2 − and especially under the age of 1 – fat shouldn’t be limited in the same way it should for others. To ensure normal growth in the child, the following is recommended for the first year of life:

  • adding fats and formula to homemade porridge and puréed vegetables
  • giving milk with a high fat content, such as breastmilk and formula.

It is best if the fat in porridge and purée isn’t always butter, since the child already receives quite a bit of this type of fat through breastmilk. Provide variety with other butter-type products, as well as plant oils like corn oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, and olive oil.

Reduce the family’s overall consumption of saturated fat – including for small children older than 1 year. Therefore, you should primarily choose plant oils, such as canola oil and olive oil, and liquid margarine, and only occationally butter or regular margarine.

Older children and adults should spread fats sparingly or not use them on bread at all. Small children should have fat on their bread or in sandwich spreads, especially while the child is less than a year old. Fry meat and vegetables in oil rather than butter, and discard pan drippings. Dietary fat contributes to providing the body with vital fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. But too much saturated fat is unhealthy in the long term.

Eat food with less salt

You should use salt sparingly in the family’s food.

In the baby’s food in particular, the salt content must be limited, because the child’s kidneys are not fully developed at birth. Besides, you won’t want the child to develop a preference for foods that taste salty. Don’t add salt to the first foods the child gets. Once the child is a little older, they can eat the family’s food, as long as vegetables and the rest of the food are just lightly salted.

Once the child starts to eat the family’s food, they, like the rest of the family, will get most salt from products like bread, lunchmeat, cheese, fast food, and TV-dinners.

Buy foods with less salt, look for the keyhole label, check the labels, and choose the product with the least amount of salt. Cut back on salt in your cooking by tasting the food before salting. Use leftovers from dinner in sandwiches the following day, that way you avoid the salt in storebought lunchmeats. Don’t put salt on the table – to avoid salting your food just out of habit.

When the family eats less salt, you can lower blood pressures and prevent cardio-vascular disorders

Eat less sugar

Candy, ice cream, Cool-Aid, and soda pop contain a lot of sugar and no nutrients.

Getting too many sweets reduces the possibility of getting enough vitamins and minerals and other substances contained in foods. Furthermore, sugary drinks increase the risk of obesity and cavities.

Cookies – including sandwich cookies, chocolate wafers, etc. – as well as certain yogurts with fruit and fruit quark for children contain a lot of sugar when compared to other ingredients, and they should be considered cakes or candy. The same is true for very sugary breakfast cereals.

A little sugar on things like oatmeal or in puréed fruit can be a good idea if it facilitates the child eating the oatmeal or the fruit. This does not apply to off-the-shelf porridge products, however, as these are already very sweet.

Drink water

Teach the child to quench his or her thirst with water from very young. Drink water instead of things like soda, juice, and Cool-Aid.

Water from the faucet is fine, but let the faucet run for a little bit before filling the cup. In Denmark, water from the faucet is clean.

The body needs water for optimal function. Water covers the need for liquids without contributing unnecessary calories.

Artificially sweetened drinks can damage teeth with acid, as can sugary drinks, and artificially sweetened products may contribute to destroying the natural appetite regulation by making us used to everything having to taste sweet. Therefore, artificially sweetened drinks are not an equal alternative to clean, cold water.

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nutrition and cooking

Milk and other beverages

Milk to baby – how much and when? Read on! 

Until the child is a year old, they need breastmilk or formula. From the age of 1, the child can drink lowfat milk from a cup. From about 5 months of age, you can supplement with water in a cup for the child.

Milk to baby – from age 0 to 1 year

The recommendation is to breastfeed the child exclusively until about 6 months of age.

It is also recommended to continue breastfeeding after the child has started to eat other foods and until the age of 1. Perhaps even longer, if mother and child are both benefitting.

As the child is breastfed less, they needs to drink formula until the age of 1.

How much milk a day?

From the age of 6 months and up to 1 year, milk continues to be an important part of the child’s nutrition. Even if they have started to eat more food. The amount of milk depends on how much food the child is eating. But milk needs to be part of the meals throughout the day.

At the age of 9 months, however, the combined amount of milk should not exceed ¾ liters per day. That includes everything the child gets in terms of breastmilk, formula, and sour milk products.

From the age of 1, you should decrease the combined amount of milk to about 3.5-5 dl per day, so the milk won’t spoil the child’s appetite for food. The content of milk in the child’s food should be counted as part of the combined amount of milk.

Milk to baby – From 9 months: sour milk products

Once the child is 9 months old, you can start to offer a bit of sour milk products, i.e. no more than ½ dl a day. Give full-fat soured milk, yogurt, or A38. These sour milk products contain about 3.5 % fat and no more than 3.5 % protein.

Do not give children under age 2 high-protein sour milk products such as skyr, fromage frais, junket, ylette, and cottage cheese.

Limit sour milk products with fruit. They have a high sugar content and are more like a dessert than actual food.

When nearing the age of 1, the amount of sour milk products can be increased from ½ to 1 dl each day.

Milk in food

When making porridge or purée during the transition, you need to add breastmilk or formula.

From 9 months of age, you can add a little cow’s milk to puréed fruit, food, or in porridge, no more than 1 dl a day. From the time the child starts to eat the family’s food, it is fine to serve gravy, meatballs, lasagna, etc. even though you have added cow’s milk.

Read also the article Baby led weaning – when and how to start

Milk to baby – from age 1 to 2 years

Lowfat milk

From age 1 to about age 2, the child should primarily drink lowfat milk and otherwise eat the foods recommended for the rest of the family. By drinking lowfat milk, the child gets sufficient energy without getting too much fat. Also, the milk is no longer as critical, because the child is getting more of many other foods. Some children may need time to get used to the taste of cow’s milk after only drinking formula.

Sour milk products

If the child gets sour milk products, the following are recommended:

  • Lowfat soured milk, yogurt, or A38. These are sour milk products containing about 1.5% fat and no more than 3.5% protein.
  • Hold off on skyr, fromage frais, junket, ylette, and cottage cheese until after the child turns 2, as the protein content is too high.
  • Limit sour milk products with fruit due to the high sugar content. It is better to add fresh or boiled fruit to sour milk products yourself.

How much milk a day?

From the age of 1, the total amount of dairy – i.e. drinking milk and sour milk products – should be about 3.5-5 dl a day. That way, there is still room for food. With about 3.5 dl milk and dairy products a day at age 1, it is easier to keep the diet within the recommended allowances.

If the child does not get milk or dairy products – due to lactose intolerance or for other reasons – a 500 mg calcium supplement is recommended. Calcium supplements are available in both tablet form and in effervescent form. If the child takes the supplement in tablet form, they need to be crushed until the child is 18 months old because of the risk of choking.

If the child gets more than about 5 dl (½ liter) milk and dairy products a day from age 1, they risk being deficient in important nutrients, because the overall diet becomes unbalanced.

Milk to baby – from age 2

Nonfat or 1% milk

From about age 2, the child should drink nonfat, 1%, or buttermilk. The child should now be getting the same dietary fat content through food and beverages as adults and older children. However, some children may need to continue with lowfat milk up until the age of 3. Talk to your pediatrician or your home health nurse if you are unsure about which type of milk your child needs. Sour milk products should be nonfat or lowfat.

Water and other beverages

Cold water is the best thirst-quencher and drinking enough of it is critical to your wellbeing. The child can drink cold water from a cup, once they start to eat food.

The water should be from the cold tap. There is a greater risk of undesirable substances in water from the hot tap. From 4 months of age, the child can drink water that is not boiled first. Always run the water for a little while before filling the cup.

Up until 6 months of age, it is just a matter of offering small amounts of water to teach the child to drink from a cup. Later, you can offer water when the child is thirsty throughout the day, and perhaps a bit at mealtime. The child’s regulation of hunger and thirst is very sensitive and should be trusted.

Juice

Wait as long as possible before giving juice. It is better to teach the child that drinking water is great.

Diluted juice should only be offered on special occasions, such as when the child is sick. This applies from the age of 1-3 years old as well.

You should not offer juice or other sweetened drinks in a bottle, because this can cause cavities. This is also why the bottle should be used only for formula, pumped breastmilk, and water.

Fruit juice contains both sugar and acid, making it harmful for teeth. Besides, it can easily replace real food. Commercially produced vegetable juice can contain disproportionate amounts of salt and is not recommended.

Soy, rice, oat, and almond milks

Soy, rice, oat, and almond milks are not milk at all and cannot be used like formula or as equivalent alternatives to cow’s milk.

Soy milk cannot be used until the age of 2, assuming the child is eating a balanced diet and growing normally, but it can be used in small amounts when cooking, starting when the child is a year old. Some types of soy milk have added calcium, containing as much calcium as cow’s milk – read the label. Soy milk has a protein content that is roughly equivalent to cow’s milk, but it has a lower natural content of vitamins and minerals. Soy contains a lot of isoflavonoids, i.e. substances with subtle estrogen-like functions. More information is needed about the shortterm and longterm effects of a high intake of these substances in early childhood, both for girls and boys.

Rice milk is not recommended for children because of the arsenic content.

Oat, almond, and rice milk are not appropriate as a replacement for milk and breastmilk, but they may be used in smaller amounts when cooking for people with lactose intolerance, such as in casseroles and sauces. These beverages contain very little protein and contain no natural vitamins and minerals.

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nutrition and cooking

10 important Food Safety tips

Infants are vulnerable to food-borne illnesses, so it’s important you take precautionary measures when preparing homemade baby food.  Just a little knowledge of food safety will go a long way to keeping your baby healthy.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water before preparation and in between handling raw and cooked food. Wash all surfaces, boards, and utensils with hot soapy water and rinse them well. Take apart food grinders, blenders, and baby food cookers after each use and wash thoroughly. Dry each part with a clean, dry cloth or disposable paper towels before putting appliances back together. In fact, food safety tips are not only about the food itself, but also about the surroundings.
  2. Use fresh, high-quality food that has been stored in clean containers at correct refrigerator temperatures (between 35°F and 38°F [1.7°C to 3.3°CJ). Fresh fruits and vegetables should be used within a few days of purchase to preserve the vitamins; root vegetables can be stored for at least one week.
  3. Wash, scrub, or peel all fruits and vegetables. Remove seeds and pits.
  4. Rinse fish, meat (except ground meats), and poultry before preparing.  Remove skin, bones, gristle, fat, and connective tissue. Use a separate cutting board for all meats. 
  5. Grind tough food, seeds, and nuts. Puree, mash, or cut food into small pieces appropriate to your baby’s age and use breast milk, formula or water to thin food to the desired consistency.
  6. Microwave, steam, stir-fry, bake, broil, or roast food for optimum nutrition. 
    Try to avoid boiling, as this method allows nutrients to leach into the water. If you do need to boil, use as little water as possible and save the cooking water for thinning purees or in soups.
  7. Cook ground meat to a temperature of at least 165°F (74°C), so it’s no longer pink but uniformly brown throughout (“medium”). Use an instant-read meat thermometer.
  8. Do not add salt, pepper, sugar, or sweeteners to your baby’s food. Instead, season with pureed fruit or fruit juice. At one year, you can begin using herbs and spices.
  9. Discard leftover food in baby’s dish after a meal. However, leftovers from the pan or serving dish can be put in clean, covered containers and refrigerated immediately. Refrigerated leftovers should be eaten within three to four days.
  10. An infant’s mouth is much more sensitive to heat than an adult’s, so be cautious when serving your baby freshly heated or cooked foods. Be sure that the food is lukewarm or room temperature and test it first by tasting a little bit yourself.

We hope these food safety tips will be beneficial to you.

Read also the article Organic food for baby – should or should not?

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nutrition and cooking

Organic food for baby – should or should not?

Organic food for baby is a topic that has soared in interest during the past several years. Parents have become more concerned about the potential effects pesticide residues might have on their baby’s health.

The most basic definition of organically grown food is that it is produced without the addition of synthetic chemicals. That includes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Also without the addition of hormones such as bovine growth hormone and antibiotics. It has also not been genetically engineered. To carry the official “organic” label in the United States, food must be grown according to a set of uniform standards approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

But does an organic seal mean that a food tastes better or is more nutritious than something that’s been traditionally grown? Not necessarily, and that’s why you shouldn’t feel that a non-organic diet is unhealthy.

Currently, science can’t tell us whether organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic ones. So if buying organic foods is cost prohibitive, you shouldn’t feel guilty.

Organic food for baby? Start with this.

Just by making your baby’s meals from scratch, you’re giving her a tremendous advantage in life. Your efforts should be applauded! Likewise, if organic is your way of life or if you’d like to just try incorporating some organically grown foods into your baby’s diet, more power to you.

If you do plan on buying some organic ingredients to incorporate into your baby’s meals, our advice is to first focus on purchasing the organic counterparts of produce that are most heavily treated with pesticides (see list below). Reason being, children are at greater risk from pesticide residues than adults because they typically eat more produce per pound of body weight than adults do.

Based on research from the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Working Group has ranked produce by its pesticide content. from highest to lowest. So when grocery shopping, it’s best to buy organic varieties of the following foods:

  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Nectarines
  • Imported Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Spinach
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nutrition and cooking

Minerals and your baby

What minerals do for our bodies

Although the body needs only small amounts of each mineral, they all play important roles in our bodies. Calcium is the major mineral for our bones and teeth.

Iron is vital for our red blood cells and muscles. Other minerals maintain fluid balance, sustain a normal heartbeat, and transmit nerve impulses. Iodine is needed for the thyroid gland. Fluoride is necessary, especially in children, for strong teeth and bones, and it enhances the body’s uptake of calcium.

Types of minerals

Minerals fall into two groups: major and trace minerals.

  • The six major minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, and potassium. The last three are known as electrolytes, which are essential for sustaining the body’s proper fluid balance.
  • The thirteen trace minerals are needed only in small amounts-but they are nutritionally important, especially iron and zinc.

Sources to minerals

The six major minerals and thirteen trace minerals are found in a wide variety of foods: milk and dairy products, eggs, tofu, seafood, poultry, meat, beans, legumes, nuts and whole grain breads and cereals, and some vegetables.

Read also the article Vitamins for you baby.

How much minerals does my child need?

A varied and balanced diet usually provides adequate amounts of all essential minerals. However, infants and toddlers do have special requirements for iron, zinc, and calcium, which are needed to support the rapid skeletal muscle, bone growth, and expansion of blood volume during the two first years. 

A GUIDE TO MINERALS

The following charts outline foods that are quality sources of minerals for your infant or toddler. Remember to remove pits and seeds from fruits and vegetables and introduce them appropriately according to your child’s age.

What it does:

It builds bones and teeth and is essential for blood clotting and nerve and muscle function.

Sources:

6 – 11 months: Breast milk, infant formula, and calcium-fortified infant cereal; Cheddar, ricotta, Swiss, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses; cottage cheese; yogurt; tofu (processed with calcium sulfate); dried figs; and parsley

12 – 24 months: Milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, cheeses, tofu (processed with calcium sulfate), dried figs, halibut, trout, beet greens, collard greens, spinach, basil, and parsley.

What it does:

It’s necessary for the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells; hemoglobin carries oxygen to every cell in the body.

Sources:

6 – 11 months: Iron-fortified infant formula, iron-fortified infant cereals, egg yolk, lentils and dry beans, soy bean products, dried figs, dates, raisins, prunes, avocados, spinach, parsley, basil, green beans, and green peas.

12 – 24 months: Milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, cheeses, tofu (processed with calcium sulfate), dried figs, halibut, trout, beet greens, collard greens, spinach, basil, and parsley.

What it does:

It’s essential for normal cell growth, wound healing, and sexual maturation. It is also an essential component in many enzymes.

Sources:

6 – 11 months: Zinc-fortified infant formula, zinc-fortified infant cereals, whole grains (except wheat), rolled oats, Cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, lentils, split peas, chickpeas, lima beans, green peas, spinach, and parsley.

12 – 24 months: Zinc-fortified cereals, rolled oats, whole grains (except wheat), shellfish, meats and poultry, yogurt, Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, lentils, split peas, chickpeas, lima beans, green peas, spinach, parsley, and ground nuts and nut butters.

What it does:

It’s essential for normal function of the thyroid gland.

Sources:

Iodized salt, seafood, and seaweed.

What it does:

It strengthens bones and teeth and enhances the body’s absorption of calcium.

Sources:

Fluoridated water and tea.

(arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silicon, tin, and vanadium)

What they do:

They play a role in a variety of metabolic functions.

Sources:

A balanced diet will provide sufficient amounts of these trace minerals.

Avoiding Iron, Calcium, Zinc, and Iodine Deficiencies

Minerals are critical to sustain an infant’s growth. Fortunately, choosing the right foods will ensure your baby gets what he needs.

Iron

Iron plays a major role in a child’s development, so it’s particularly important that a baby’s diet include good sources of the mineral. The natural supply of iron an infant is born with is usually used up by the age of six months. At that time, breast milk and iron-fortified formula are still important sources of iron, but diet becomes a key  supplier of this nutrient. Let your pediatrician know you are preparing your own baby food. He may or may not prescribe an iron supplement.

For toddlers over one year old, 1 / 4 to 1/2 cup (55 to 115 g) iron-fortified cereal a day should provide an adequate amount of iron. Drinking vitaminrich juices such as apple or white grape juice or eating vitaminrich fruit including peaches, berries, and oranges with iron-fortified baby cereal enhances iron absorption.

After age two, growth rate slows, iron reserves begin to build, and the risk of iron deficiency decreases.

Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia in your baby include fatigue, weakness, and increased susceptibility to infections. If you suspect your child is iron deficient, call your pediatrician.

Calcium

Calcium promotes the growth of strong bones and teeth and prevents osteoporosis later in life. Both breast milk and formula provide all of your baby’s calcium needs for most of his first year. After that, diet will again playa key role in helping him meet his requirements.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers between the ages of one and three need about 500 milligrams of calcium daily, or the equivalent of two cups of milk or one cup of milk plus one to two ounces of cheese.

Lack of calcium in the diet can cause rickets, a childhood disorder involving softening and weakening of the bones. Always check with a pediatrician if you have any concern about your baby.

Zinc

Zinc is used by the body for growth and development, immune response, neurological function, and reproduction. Healthy, full-term, breastfed babies do not need additional zinc beyond what they get from breast milk, formula, or diet.

Some of the symptoms of mild zinc deficiency in infants and toddlers are diminished appetite, slow growth, increased infections and diarrhea, and a reduced sense of taste and smell. If you are concerned about your baby, check with your pediatrician.

Iodine

At one time in the United States, iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) was a serious problem, jeopardizing children’s mental health. Since the introduction of iodized salt, however, it is no longer a concern in this country.

Iodine is also found in seafood and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil. Breast milk and iodine-fortified infant formulas are the best sources of iodine for infants.

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nutrition and cooking

Vitamins for your baby

Vitamins for baby – what they do

Vitamins perform a wide variety of functions, from forming red blood cells to boosting the immune system to helping release energy from food. They also support the body’s metabolic processes. Thirteen vitamins are known to be essential for normal growth, development and maintenance of our bodies.

Types of vitamins for baby

Vitamins are divided into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

  • The four fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with the help of fat from foods.
  • The water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and the eight B vitamins: Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Vitamin B12, Biotin (a B vitamin), and Folic acid (a B vitamin).

Sources of vitamins

With the exception of vitamin D, which is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight the body cannot manufacture the other 11 vitamins, so you need to get them from the food you eat. All the essential vitamins are found in a wide variety of foods: fruits, berries, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, dairy, fish and seafood, poultry, and meat.

Most of the B vitamins can be found in whole and fortified grains and cereals, as well as in dairy foods, meat fish and poultry, some leafy greens, and potatoes.

Vitamin B-12 can be a concern with strict vegetarians who do not eat any foods from animal origin. The only good source is from animals, including meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, and dairy foods.

Read also the article Minerals and your baby

How much vitamins does my child need? 

Only very small amounts of vitamins are needed, but symptoms from vitamin deficiencies may develop if vitamins are lacking in adequate amounts. On the other hand, when taken in excess, as with  supplements, some vitamins may be harmful.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, healthy children do not need vitamin supplements, provided they have a balanced diet of varied fruits and vegetables, whole grain complex carbohydrates, fat and protein.

What it does:

It promotes calcium absorption and builds and maintain bones and teeth.

Sources:

6 – 11 months: Most formulas are fortified with vitamin D. If you are breast-feeding, ask your pediatrician if you need to supplement your baby’s diet with vitamin D.

12 – 24 months: Toddlers who drink vitamin D-fortified whole milk will get an adequate amount of vitamin D. Natural sources include mackerel, salmon, sardines, and egg yolks. Fortified sources include milk and milk products, butter, cheese, and some breakfast cereals. In addition, careful and moderate exposure to sunlight without sun screen is a good source of Vitamin D.

Signs of deficiency:

Thinning and weakening of bones

What it does:

It helps bind cells together, helps heal wounds, and strengthens blood vessel walls.

Sources:

6 – 11 months: Guavas, kiwis, papayas, and cantaloupes; red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers; parsley; raspberries, honeydew melons, pineapples, blueberries, grapes, and apricots; broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale, snow peas, cabbage, and romaine lettuce; plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, bananas, apples, and pears; and broad beans, rutabagas, butternut squash, potatoes, mixed greens, okra, peas, parsnips, turnips, yams, sweet potatoes and plantains.

12 – 24 months: Guavas, kiwis, papayas, strawberries, oranges, lemons, limes, cantaloupes, grapefruits, and tangerines; red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers; parsley; mangos, raspberries, honeydew melons, blackberries, star fruit, pineapples, blueberries, grapes, and apricots; broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale, snow peas, cabbage, garlic, mustard greens, beet greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, and radishes, watermelon, bananas, cherries, plums, peaches, apples, nectarines, and pears; broad beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard, rutabagas, collard greens, mixed greens (loose leaf lettuce), basil, butternut squash, potatoes, okra, peas, parsnips, turnips, yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, asparagus, and artichokes

Signs of deficiency:

Bleeding gums and loose teeth; bruising; dry, rough skin; slow healing; and appetite loss

What it does:

It promotes calcium absorption and builds and maintain bones and teeth.

Sources:

6 – 11 months: Most formulas are fortified with vitamin D. If you are breast-feeding, ask your pediatrician if you need to supplement your baby’s diet with vitamin D.

12 – 24 months: Toddlers who drink vitamin D-fortified whole milk will get an adequate amount of vitamin D. Natural sources include mackerel, salmon, sardines, and egg yolks. Fortified sources include milk and milk products, butter, cheese, and some breakfast cereals. In addition, careful and moderate exposure to sunlight without sun screen is a good source of Vitamin D.

Signs of deficiency:

Thinning and weakening of bones

What it does:

It helps form red blood cells, muscles, and other tissues and prevents cell damage, and preserves fatty acids.

Sources:

Olive oil; whole grains; leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, and parsley; avocados; nuts and nut butters; and some seafood.

Signs of deficiency:

Blood problems in premature infants; and neurological problems in older children.

What it does:

It’s needed for normal blood clotting and helps maintain healthy bones.

Sources:

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli; potatoes; whole grains such as oats, wheat bran; and soy beans.

Signs of deficiency:

Excessive bleeding.

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nutrition and cooking

Family meals – 6 ways to make them work

Family life can get extremely hectic – there’s homework, chauffeur duties, activities, bath time, chores, sibling rivalry, and then worrying about what went wrong and why! Sometimes it can be hard to fit in a meal where we are all together, relaxed and present. But once we get the hang of it, eating together as a family can be achieved. And it has huge benefits for us all.

How do we set up family meals?

Plan them: Sit down together and make a meal plan for the week. Then you´ll know what to buy and cook every day. This takes away the ‘what will I cook today’ stress. And you avoid that last minute grabbing a frozen pizza or takeaway scenario.

Make it your meal: do as much as you can together – planning the menu, shopping, the food prep and cooking, setting the table and of course cleaning up! In our family we always make sure that the table looks nice, with seasonal napkins, candles (I am Danish after all) and a nice jug of water with lemon.

Be mentally & physically present: make sure you are 100% present at the table and not up and down to do chores or check your phone. Focus on each one of your kids, listen to what they have to say (listen to understand. Don’t fix, just listen). Pay attention to everything you see, feel and taste – make sure your mind is full of what is going on right now!

Make it screen free: agree with your family that ‘screens stays away from family meal times’. That include you too. Here your example is important to understand.

Take your time: often parents (especially mums) are the first to leave the table – rushing to the next task on the schedule. But try to stay a bit longer and enjoy the family being together and be mentally present. We know how easy it is for our mind to wander and get distracted by other thoughts. Worries and things that need to get done. But just for the time being, try to park everything else. Nothing is more important than your family after all.

Ignore minor misbehaviors where you can: try to just enjoy being together. If you find that family meals get a bit ‘wild’, set up some rules for mealtimes beforehand. Some that you all agree to. Write them down and sign them.

Benefits of eating together

Creates a family tradition that they will remember. All we want is for our kids to grow up to be happy. And to think back to their childhood as a happy, nurturing time. Family meals will help build positive and healthy values and memories that they will cherish for life!

  • Builds family “togetherness”: kids who spend happy time with their parents feel loved, safe and important. Family meals glue the family together – ‘our thing’.
  • Promotes healthy eating habits: kids are our little shadows and they copy everything we do. When we eat well, they will too. If we create a healthy food language they will adopt that. If you are cooking with your kids you are really teaching them the pleasures of enjoying the full event: planning, shopping, cooking and enjoying the meal without rushing it. Kids who eat and cook with their family are less likely to be over or underweight as they learn to have a healthy relationship with food and make better food choices.
  • It’s fun: once you’ve got the hang of setting up family meals, planning them and resisting the urge to rush on to the next thing, they can be a great place to have some family fun. Time to talk about the day, have a laugh and a joke and listen to each other.
  • There is no rule as to how many there has to be in a ‘family’. If it’s just you and your child, then that is your family. And of course you can create the same values and traditions around regular family meals.
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