When it comes to children and healthy eating, complimentary meals or nutrition, a good number of us often overlook it, as we have the opinion that they can pretty much have just anything they want, better still, anything we feel like giving them.
Well, the thing is, even though, as kids, they shouldn’t be subject to any form of diet whatsoever, they should also not be subjected to a dose of unhealthy meals.
The question on your mind right now is probably, how then do I know what to feed my kids with and what not to?
Thankfully, CEO, head-cook, and nutritionist at Augustsecrets Nigeria, Toyin Onigbanjo, is here at Healthfacts.ng to give us tips to help us treat our kids to a healthy and yummy lifestyle.
HF: How do you make a child who doesn’t like to try new things try out new complimentary meals/recipes?
TO: Let me start with my experience, when I had my son, he wouldn’t take any of the jar foods we got him.
He actually did not just like the taste of pre-made foods. So, I started studying and found out that “natural foods are twice as nutrient-rich than premade foods,” that means I needed to make him like the natural foods.
But the major issue was that even the taste of the natural foods, he didn’t like them.
For a child to try out a new food, you need to come down to their level to understand that look, “mummy, I’ve been taking breastmilk for 6 months, what’s the meaning of this ewedu that you’re putting in their mouth, what is the meaning of this carrot puree?”
So, you need to come down to their level to say, “Hi baby! There is something else after this breastmilk and you actually need it.”
So come down to their level, make it fun, make it interesting, put yourself in their shoes and understand their nutritional needs. That way, you’ll be able to get them to like the food.
HF: Speaking about nutritional needs, which class of food should be of higher proportion in children’s complimentary meal?
TO: For growing children, we have certain nutrients that are actually globally lacking, like nutrients that build their brains. This is because children just grow in body size because they are always eating rice and all that.
Babies actually need all the nutrients but taking it in order of priority. They don’t need a diet or need you cutting off one or two things from their diet.
One nutrient a child needs to grow properly, especially from weaning, is Iron.
Iron helps to build the blood, the brain and also helps to aid the growth.
Alongside every other nutrient, children also need protein, calcium and other minerals to top the chat.
HF: How can I put my child’s weight under check (either a very skinny baby or a very chubby baby)?
TO: Breastmilk is actually high in fat and some very good nutrient that makes babies maintain their weight. So, the moment they get to 6 months or 8 months, they outgrow those nutrients. So, they need to supplement and that is where complimentary meals come in.
So, you begin to actually get foods that help the baby to maintain their weight. Get foods that are high in fat and other nutrients.
If your child is skinny, the first thing to worry about, Is the child reaching his/her weight milestones?
Put the child on a scale to check if the child is actually losing weight or is just on the slim side because a baby doesn’t necessarily have to be big to be healthy.
Usually, what causes babies to actually become bigger than normal is processed foods that’s why giving your body natural foods is actually the best.
HF: Is there an appropriate age range to stop breastfeeding children?
TO: “The beginning of complimentary food is not the end of breastfeeding.”
Complimentary food is just to support breastmilk. This means that part of the baby’s essential diet every day is from the complementary foods.
Breastmilk can be breakfasts, solids would be midday food, breastmilk at lunch, breastmilk again after lunch and maybe solids for dinner. Gradually from 2 servings, you can increase to 3 servings to 5 servings, up until the baby is completely weaned off breastmilk at 2 years old.
HF: Which snacks or complimentary meals is healthy for children and which isn’t?
TO: The truth is that most of the snacks out there are highly processed and are high in sugar, which actually spikes the blood sugar and causes diabetes and some other diseases, which before, were actually common only in adults.
These are mostly caused by artificial seasonings, the artificial addition of sugar, salt. These are things that actually begin to damage the child’s system and it is actually a cause for worry.
However, that does not mean that sugar or any of these processed foods are poisonous or bad for your children. So, it’s okay for them to have it once in a while.
So, if your baby needs to snack every day, you can include snacks like yogurt, popcorn, some good cookies and other healthy snacks which are high in fibre, protein, carbs and generally, natural.
HF: How do we prepare a well-balanced meal for my child?
TO: To package a healthy school lunch for your child, you need to ensure all the classes of foods (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins) are all present in the meal.
HF: How do we interpret nutritional food labels?
TO: Well, for the lame man, I’ll just say look out for the ingredients that you know or you’re familiar with. Be sure to know at least 2-3 ingredients, including water.
Now that you know what your child(ren)’s nutritional needs are, it’s your turn to help another mum with this knowledge by sharing this article.
You can also watch the full interview here.