Health

Food for babies

Breast-feeding is the natural form of feeding a baby and is also the most obvious way to nourish a newborn child. Up to the age of six months, breast milk contains all the nourishment the baby needs. From six months you can start to introduce solids, but it is advantageous to continue breast-feeding as well. Not all moms are able to breast-feed and if this is the case, the child can be given a breast milk substitute during the first six months.

As far as we can determine, during the Stone Age humans ate whatever was available, and babies and children ate more or less the same as their parents. Mothers breast-fed their children up to the age of 3 or 4 years, gradually introducing solids. Prior to the discovery of agriculture, foods such as formula, porridge, puréed fruits and sweet desserts did not exist.

Breast milk contains more than 50% energy from fat. When weaning a child off breast milk, you should gradually introduce a diet rich in fat and puréed vegetables, with lots of added fat. This is a good way to start. Avocado is a wonderful fruit that is both easy to prepare and to feed the baby. Shortly after introducing vegetables you can start to introduce foods such as liver, lamb, chicken, fish and meat, also with lots of extra fat (butter, coconut oil or ghee).

Suitable liquids


Water is the most natural source of liquid. Juice and soft drinks contain loads of sugar, which no one needs, and I do not recommend formula once the baby begins eating solids. The main ingredients in formula are flour and water or milk, and my experience shows that children who have been raised on formula after the age of 8–10 months are often very choosy or refuse to eat as they get older.

Children drink when they are thirsty, so be patient. Your child will both eat and drink when he or she needs to.

Formula substitutes
Parents often ask me what they should give their child instead of formula. I always reply: food! A child will be satisfied and fulfilled by eating natural food. If, however, a parent chooses to give their child formula, then it is important to read the label and choose the formula that is best suited to your child’s needs. Many brands of formula contain maltodextrin, which is a fast-acting carbohydrate that gives a carb quick fix (turbo energy). Maltodextrin is one of the main ingredients in weight-gain solutions and in supplements that elite trainers consume after intensive training. Why is maltodextrin added to formula? Is it because it’s addictive and the child will want more, and because the child experiences a ‘good feeling’? Or is it for some other reason? Formula contains loads of carbohydrates and also affects the child’s teeth (sugar is never good for teeth).

Food that has a higher amount of fat and less carbs will give the child energy, keep them satisfied and sustain normal weight. LCHF suits children, adults and pregnant and breast-feeding women. It is not a weight-loss programme but a lifestyle with many benefits, one of which is weight loss.

Children don’t need to eat as few carbs as possible, but should eat the amount of carbs that are suited to their individual needs and tolerance. You should adjust the food and its contents to suit your children and their needs. Children that are over-active or have difficulty concentrating will benefit from eating a diet low in carbs. Remember carbs are not essential, but protein and fat are.

Many adults are already eating low carb, and there is an increasing amount of parents who choose to feed their children low-carb foods as well. These parents make conscious choices on what foods to eat and give their children, providing a healthy lifestyle. Awareness is key.

Children need nourishing foods in order to grow into healthy teenagers and adults. The right food will keep the child happy, alert and healthy. If you have a child that is overweight, low carb will also help, but consult your physician first.

Children need nourishing foods in order to grow into healthy teenagers and adults. The right food will keep the child happy, alert and healthy. If you have a child that is overweight, low carb will also help, but consult your physician first.

Tips and foods for the first year


At around six months of age it is time to introduce a child to solids so that he or she can get used to foods that are not in liquid form. In the beginning, you can blend the food with breast milk to slowly help the child get used to new tastes and flavours.

Introduce one kind of food at a time. In this way it is easy to detect whether the child reacts to something they eat or if they have an allergy. Start off with foods that are not generally known to cause allergic reactions, for example meat, liver, chicken, butter, ghee, cold-pressed and unrefined oil, organic coconut oil, avocado and vegetables. Small tummies can be sensitive to wholewheat foods, so avoid these as your child should obtain enough fibre from vegetables. Fat is of great importance for the young child, but even for older children. There is no harm in delaying introduction of fruit purées, as these contain mostly sugars (fructose).

Introduce finger foods early so that the child will get used to new tastes and smells and also the new texture of foods. A large carrot, for instance, is great for the little one to play with and taste. At the same time the child trains hand and eye coordination and development with the muscles in the mouth.

Make sure that the finger food is large enough so that there is no risk of swallowing or choking. When children are eating they should, at all times, be supervised. Keep an eye on them once they start to get teeth to make sure they cannot bite off a piece of the food they are holding.

Always give the child dairy products high in fat instead of low- or fat-free products. You can mix heavy cream with dairy products such as yoghurt or milk.

Foods to avoid during the first year


Salt: A baby’s kidneys are not developed enough to handle salt.

Fried food: Fried foods can have hard fried edges, which can be difficult to digest.

Honey: There can be traces of spores in honey that can lead to bacterial infection in the tummy.

Spinach, beetroot, and leafy celery: These contain nitrate, which can convert into nitrite in the blood. This affects oxygen uptake.

Soft cheese, such as Brie or Camembert, and liver pâté: These products contain bacteria and can cause food poisoning.

Sugar and sweeteners: All products containing sugar or sweeteners are to be avoided.

Wait until the age of 10–12 months before introducing milk, yoghurt and egg whites.

Foods that can cause allergies


Introduce these after the age of one year.

Citrus fruit
Shellfish
Grains (including cereals) containing gluten, and legumes
Strawberries

Puréed vegetables
Choose one type of vegetable at a time to see how your baby reacts:

Turnip
Parsnip
Zucchini
Carrot
Butternut (although quite sweet)

Peel and chop the vegetable into small pieces. Place the vegetables in a saucepan and add water so that the vegetables are just covered. Cover with a lid and boil the vegetables (the nutrients and vitamins don’t disappear with the steam).

Pour off the water and add some breast milk or unsalted butter (10 ml butter to 100 ml purée). Blend until smooth.

Once your little one has been eating solids for a few weeks, you can start to spice the food with fresh herbs and spices: dill, parsley, basil, thyme, coriander, ginger, tarragon, etc.

When your child has tried various vegetables, it’s time to add other ingredients such as meat, chicken, potatoes, cabbage and broccoli. You can also add an egg yolk to the meal, as it is full of nutrients and filling. Only add the yolk at first, as those who are allergic to eggs are allergic to the white of the egg. Wherever possible, use organic eggs.

9–12 months


Introduce your child to drinking from a real glass at an early age. You will be surprised at how quickly they learn. Use a ‘doll’s size’ glass for small fingers to wrap around and add only a small amount of water. At first there will be some messing but they will soon learn the technique. Provide water to drink at all times. Avoid juice and all other sweet beverages.

Foods to introduce at this age


(mash or chop the food finely)

Fish
Shellfish
Unsalted nut butter (except if there are nut allergies in the family)
Yoghurt (natural full fat)
Cheese
Use cream in the food
Egg yolks
To make an egg and vegetable omelette, use vegetables that you have previously cooked and mash together with egg yolk. Fry in butter or coconut oil.

If you wish, you can add small amounts of fruit after the meal, but preferably at the same time as mealtime.

Fruit purée


Peel and chop fruit such as apple, pear or nectarine. Place the fruit in a saucepan and add a little water to cover. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and use a hand blender or fork to mash the fruit pulp. You can even add cinnamon or cardamom while the fruit is boiling.

Fresh fruit


Peel the fruit and use a hand blender to purée the fruit in a bowl.

Pieces of fresh fruit


Peel the fruit and grate the fruit with a cheese grater. From 10–12 months you can add some heavy cream to provide extra fat and more taste.