Right Bites -The Why and How of Nourishing Your Children

Why does nutrition matter in the birth to 23 month timeframe?

This is a critical time for growth and development of:

  • brain
  • muscles
  • bone
  • heart
  • digestive tract
  • healthy immune system

This is the time when children can develop a healthy eating pattern – starting with complementary foods at 6 months — which helps to broaden the palate with exposure to a variety of foods, tastes, textures and temperatures.

What can parents, grandparents, and/or caregivers do to support good nutrition for young children?

  • Lead by example. Eat the same foods you feed to the little ones in your family or in your care.
  • Do follow child’s lead and avoid force-feeding to let young children determine their level of fullness.
  • Make mealtime a fun zone not a battle zone.
  • Be patient, feeding skills take time to master and need to be practiced.
  • Don’t use food as a reward or punishment – it is nourishment for health and development.
  • Do be careful with foods that can present choking hazards – aim for a safe plate.

What is the Top advice for 6-11-month-olds?

  • Make sure your baby has the strength and stability to sit upright with little or no support.
  • Make sure the baby is interested in food and can make use of a spoon to move food into their mouth.
  • Minimize distractions around feeding time. No toys on the tray for your little and no screen time for whoever is doing the feeding.
  • Breast milk, formula and water.
  • Baby sized bites – smaller more frequent feedings over the day- #MakeEveryBiteCount.
  • Think finger foods or easy to swallow foods.
  • Yogurt (unflavored) and cheese can be introduced as complementary foods.
  • Iron fortified infant cereals.
  • Strained or pureed fruits and vegetables.
  • Strained or pureed meats and mashed or pureed beans – you can buy or make your own.

What is the top advice for 12-23 month-olds?

  • Plain whole milk, reduced-fat cheese and reduced-fat, plain yogurt.
  • Great grains such as bread, bagels, ready to eat cereal, cooked cereal, rice or pasta – do include whole grain options in the mix.
  • Fruit can be chopped, cooked, canned in juice or offered whole.
  • Vegetables can be cooked, canned, or chopped, fresh.
  • Protein such as beef, pork, poultry, fish – cooked and in small pieces, beans, lentils, chopped nuts or nut butter and eggs.
  • Beverages are breast milk, plain whole milk and water.
  • Let your toddler decide how much to eat.
  • If at first, they will not feed, try try again.
  • Try to feed on a schedule – smaller amounts more frequently.
  • Eat the same foods you give your little one.
  • Be careful with foods that may be difficult to swallow.
  • Keep the distractions to a minimum around mealtime.
  • Right sized is child-wise.