When it comes to feeding your baby, we often concentrate on volumes. Did your child eat half a cup or several spoonfuls? The quantity is important but so is the quality.
Children have small tummies. The smaller they are, the smaller they eat. Children, however, require balanced meals. Balanced meals contain foods from all the various food groups. It is usually not possible to do this in one meal for a baby or child. Aim at giving your child a balanced diet over the course of a day, or even two.
To have a balanced meal, you need carbohydrates which are most of our staples. Corn, yam, sweet potato, rice, millet etc provide this. You also need proteins, which are fish, meat, milk and its products, eggs, beans and soy. Fats and oils must not be forgotten. These are provided through cooking oils, margarine, groundnut paste, dried coconuts and oily fish. These constitute the macronutrients.
Even more important are the micronutrients as they are often the missing ones. These nutrients are needed in only small amounts. However, they have very grave consequences when they are missing from your child’s diet over prolonged periods. Examples of micronutrients are folic acid, iron, vitamins, zinc, selenium. They are supplied from various foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Variety is the spice of life
To ensure your child gets a balance of all these nutrients, offer your child a variety of foods throughout the day and throughout the week. Give your child as many foods of different colours and flavours as possible. This is because each food has a different nutrient profile. Do not give so many different foods at a single meal though. Just make sure that over a short period, your child is getting all the necessary nutrients.
For example, a typical day’s plan may be porridge with fish for breakfast, and a piece of bread coated with groundnut paste around midmorning. Then yam and pureed meat stew for lunch and a banana a few hours post-lunch. Supper could be rice and vegetable stew. A late-night snack may be some blended fruits or boiled carrots.
Feeding your child with foods that contain different nutrients throughout the day is important, especially when you are weaning. Share with us how do you do this for your child