Every type of food has a different benefit on your child. Find out more below on what to avoid feeding your toddler and what helps boost his immunity and support his brain development.
Food is the fuel that keeps kids going through busy days full of play, learning and growing. However, there’s much more to consider when it comes to giving your child the very best diet, and it’s important to get the right balance to suit their nutritional needs.
Different foods have different benefits, depending on their nutritional value. You can give your child a healthy head start by feeding them a balanced diet full of foods with different health-boosting properties, and avoiding foods with little or no nutritional value. This guide should help you to build a healthy, balanced menu for your little one, to support their growth and development.
“Different foods have different benefits, depending on their nutritional value”.
Many parents have questions about how to boost the immune system, especially when children get to the age where they’re coming into contact with more people – when they start at baby or toddler playgroups, daycare or nursery, for example.
While it’s inevitable that children will catch the occasional cold or bug, there are immune boosting foods that you can work into your child’s diet for extra protection and peace of mind. Here’s what to look for:
Many of the above foods are likely to already be part of your child’s diet, however, there may be some foods to boost the immune system that you might struggle to get them to eat. Things like oily fish, liver and some of the vegetables that have a strong taste (onions, for example). In that case you might consider supplementing your child’s diet with a Growing Up milk (for ages 1-3 years old) that’s fortified with some of the key immunity boosting nutrients.
As well as foods that boost immunity, there are also foods that are good for that all-important early brain development. Different types of foods have different functions. For example, dark green leafy veg such as spinach and kale is packed with ‘brain vitamins’ and folate – which are good for brain development, while the skin of apples and plums contains quercetin which is beneficial to brain growth. Work as many of these different kinds of ‘brain food’ and ‘memory food’ into your child’s diet for great brain-boosting benefits!
Learning which foods to avoid feeding your child is just as important as learning which foods they should be eating. This isn’t a list of 10 foods you should never eat – some foods have no place on the plate, while others should just be limited. Foods you should look out for include:
Foods that contain sugar are not necessarily ‘bad foods’. Naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruits, vegetables and milk, are absolutely nothing to worry about – in fact, those foods are all important parts of any balanced diet. However, you should keep an eye out for sneaky added sugars, such as those added to sweets, cakes, cereals, spreads and biscuits. And never add sugar to your child’s food yourself (to breakfast cereals, for example).
The recommended maximum daily intake of salt for a child depends on their age:
Never add salt to your child’s food and watch out for salty foods such as bacon, cheese, gravy/stock, convenience and ‘junk’ foods, and ham.
Home-cooked meals are ideal as you know exactly what’s going into them. Processed foods such as processed meat products, ready meals, cakes and biscuits can hide added sugar, salt and artificial additives, so take a look at the label before you add them to your supermarket basket.
Fibre is an important part of any balanced diet, but high fibre foods can fill little tummies quickly, which can mean that your child isn’t eating enough of other foods to get a good balance of all the nutrients that they need.
Children do need fat in their diet, but it’s best to try to provide this in the form of healthy unsaturated fats found in avocados, olive oil, vegetable oils and oily fish, and a limited amount of natural saturated fats such as those in meat, full-fat cheese, milk and yogurt, butter and coconut oil. Trans fats are found in things like cakes, crisps and biscuits, margarines, frozen pizzas and fried fast foods, and should be kept to a minimum.
It’s common for processed foods to contain artificial additives, such as colourings, flavourings, sweeteners and preservatives, that you’ll want to avoid when feeding your child. Watch out for things like processed meats, sweets, cakes and biscuits, juice drinks, sweets, cereals, yogurts, ice-creams and frozen convenience foods.
Undercooking some food can cause serious illnesses. For example, undercooked eggs and chicken carry a risk of salmonella. Always take extra care when cooking for children – a meat thermometer can be a useful kitchen tool.
Some foods have the potential to trigger an allergic reaction, so be especially careful when introducing your child to them. Introduce the following foods under supervision, one by one, and don’t give them to children under six months old:
Whole nuts are a choking hazard so they shouldn’t be given to children under the age of 5. Choose ground nuts or nut butters instead.
Young children should never be left alone while eating, due to the risk of choking, but whole grapes are especially dangerous due to their size and shape. Slicing a grape length-ways can reduce this risk.
“Learning which foods to avoid feeding your child is just as important as learning which foods they should be eating”.
Of course, the best healthy food list for your child will depend on which stage of development they are at. This is because a child’s nutritional needs will vary as they grow. Take a look at our handy food pyramid to see examples of what your child should be eating, including foods to protect their heart, healthy foods to boost immunity and foods for good brain growth and development.
Giving your toddler the right nutrition can sound intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, you will only get better with time. Even with a varied diet, it can be tricky for your toddler to get the recommended amount of iron they need each day. That’s why we created Aptamil Junior 3 Growing Up Milk. As well as providing over half of your toddler’s recommended daily iron intake, it also contains our unique blend of Galacto- and Fructo-oligosaccharides prebiotics (GOS/FOS) which helps support your toddler from the inside. Given as part of a balanced diet, the prebiotics, iron and vitamin A, C and D in Aptamil Junior Growing Up Milk will ensure your toddler gets the nutrition they need.
Compare your child’s weight with other children their age
Our team of experts is ready to answer your questions and support you on your journey from pregnancy to toddler hood. For more information and relevant advice, please contact us between 9am-6pm from Saturday to Thursday.