Updated: Jul 2
When weaning the aim is to work towards 3 balanced meals a day with 2 light and healthy snacks in between by the time the baby is 1 year old. ? What is a balanced meal? 1. A portion of carbohydrate – rice, pasta, potatoes, couscous, wholegrain cereal, oats – the list is extensive (5 a day – 1 at each meal and 2 portions as a snacks).
2. A portion of protein – fish, meat, lentils, beans, nuts (not whole before 5 years), eggs and other alternatives (2 portions a day, 2-3 for vegetarian and vegan children). 3. A portion of veg and fruit (aim for 5 a day over meals and snacks) 4. A portion of dairy or non-dairy alternative (3 portions daily). TinyTots nutrition (run by a paediatric dietitian) has done a great post of these alternatives- check it out.
Not all meals will always be exactly balanced so it can help to think of how many portions of these food groups children should have over the day so I’ve put these in brackets.
providing your little one with a variety of foods following the above number of portions will put them well on the way to achieving their nutrient needs (if they eat it of course – which you can’t and shouldn’t force but at least you know you are doing a good job if you are providing a healthy balanced diet – providing is all you can do – it’s their choice what they eat!).
The photo shows a balanced meal in a Yumbox (these are excellent for preparing balanced meals on the go for little ones - but there are lots of other types available too!): 1. Carbs- new potatoes 2. Protein- crustless quiche (spinach and cheese) 3. Veg- aparagus and baby sweetcorn, Fruit- strawberries, raspberries, melon and pear 4. Dairy – plain whole milk yogurt (there’s a drizzle of date syrup)
In the centre well there’s some more carbs in some little pieces of organix cereal bar (can’t always have time for homemade flapjack!).
If you need help on planning a balanced diet for your little one you should see a registered dietitian RD on the NHS or Freelance or a registered nutritionist RNutr.