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October 28, 2015

22 Comments

Ensuring your baby and toddler are getting the correct foundation of food in their first twelve months, and beyond, gives them the best start on life’s food journey.

A positive food path from day one is so important not just from the quality and variety of ingredients and meal combinations but also the range of textures to suit different stages of development.

1. Plan ahead

It’s important to plan meals to ensure your ‘little foodie’ is getting a good nutritional balance. Days can quickly become hectic and unpredictable so a little planning in terms of what snacks to take when out and about can make any day less stressful. If not it can become very easy to grab your little one a food option from a coffee shop or local deli that is perhaps not the best nutritionally. This can then start a cycle of eating outside of ideal ‘meal times’ disrupting the all-important routines.

2. Introduce variety

Fruit is a popular option with most babies and toddlers (and adults!) but it is important not to forget to introduce vegetables just as frequently and also meat based options. Variety is the spice of life so they say and ideal if you can get young palates accustomed to being adventurous early on.

Preparing such small quantities of some meat based dishes or combinations can be time consuming and challenging which is when Rafferty’s Garden meat based range is especially helpful, added to pasta or rice for toddlers or simply on its own for younger ones.

3. Introduce texture

Purees, mash, lumps – all are important and all should be introduced at key development milestones to get babies and toddlers to learn to move from sucking to chewing and ultimately using a spoon. The Rafferty’s Garden range introduces textures as babies grow and is important to ensure that their eating capabilities keep advancing. It is useful to always have a spoon or two at the ready for toddlers to enjoy food pouches, on the go or at home, so the spoon becomes familiar.

4. Make it fun!

There is nothing worse than feeling daunted or bored by having to make the next meal for your little one. Remember it is a wonderful adventure for them and you don’t need to make it hard for yourself. Many of Rafferty’s Garden fruit products can be enjoyed added to yoghurt or as a topping on a pancake or pikelet or why not make some savoury options.

5. Stick to meal occasions

It is very easy to feed a crying or demanding bub when it wants food! Try to bring a little structure around meal occasions, to not only make it easier for your day and being able to get tasks done but also to instill the understanding of meal occasions such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, deserts and snacks.

Remember, it is also advised that little ones do not graze as constant snacking can have detrimental implications not just from a weight point of view but snacking is also linked to causing tooth decay as well as affecting the way we metabolise food.

6. Make ‘everyday’ food the treat!

It’s important to develop a love of fresh food over instilling ‘not everyday food’ as the special occasion. If children don’t have an association that a lolly or cake is special treat then they will welcome eating fruit and vegetable and combinations of both just as much. We often instill our own eating preferences without realising the influence we have as role models…until we hear it imitated!

7. Be patient

As with all new experiences, it could take time for your ‘little foodies’ to enjoy trying new foods, textures and tastes. Patience and persistence will pay off. Get excited about food and remember when a new taste, fruit, vegetable or your favourite dish is rejected, introduce it again and again and again, you’ll be surprised how persistence can pay off.

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • I’m long past this, but all great tips. We didn’t create different meals for our son vs our meals so that would be my tip. Involve your children in your normal eating/meals as soon as you can.

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  • Definitely some good tips there :)

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  • Thank you for the article, cheers.

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  • This is a fantastic article. We are also fortunate enough to have a chef at child care that is quite adventurous so the little one gets to try a variety of foods and cuisines on a daily basis.

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  • Great tips. We do alot of these things with the kids and we still do struggle sometimes but find that being really patient and making food fun gets our kids to try new healthy things.

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  • Good information .Honestly all I did was follow the blue book that was given to me at the hospital and it has everything . It is the best book ever especially for new mothers who knows nothing about motherhood and if it weren’t for this book and the kind nurses at the childhood clinic I would have been stuck with a lot of unknowns.

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  • Some great tips here – but I do believe the most important is to ‘plan’ ahead. There are great meal planners that you can get these days. I bought one from Kikki K which has been great to plan weekly meals for the household. My bub is too young for solids as yet, but I will start planning for her introduction to solids just after Christmas.

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  • Fun and variety are how I always did it. I still had my food battles but mostly my kids eat what’s put in front of them and enjoy a good range of foods

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  • Make it fun and be patient tips are so important.

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  • My kids loved all food, we always had a massive fruit bowl that adorned the kitchen table, it was the kids first ‘go to’ snack.

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  • Yep, pretty much doing all that. I’m not having too many issues with food at the moment. I am quite surprised to read of how much difficulty some mums have :/

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  • Great tips doing it with my daughters

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  • Thank you for the helpful tips.

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  • What a cheeky grin on the face of this delightful child!

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  • My son is 8 and I have difficulty introducing new foods to him. I wish I had started earlier. Oh well, I shall persist!

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