Here are some practical tips about infants, food and eating habits.
Food is fun, tasty and nutritious. But there are some foods you should wait with and some tips for how to improve your child's eating habits - from small portions to whole meals.
Here are 20 useful tips:
• All types of nuts can get stuck in your child's throat. Keep whole nuts out of reach of children under 12 months. On the other hand, avoiding nuts does not prevent allergies as was previously believed.
Read more about food allergies and food intolerances.
• Honey may contain bacterial spores and should not be given to children under 12 months.
• Spinach and other leafy green vegetables contain more nitrate than is recommended for small children so should be avoided until the child is at least a year old.
• Children under 12 months should not eat potatoes that are slightly green or damaged as they may contain solanine, a substance that can cause stomach upsets. For the same reason, you should peel all potatoes before giving them to children under 12 months, including new potatoes.
• Be careful with cow's milk and other dairy products during the first year. It's better to give the baby breast milk or breast milk substitute. Read more about cow's milk allergy.
• Use good quality raw ingredients without additives, and always be careful with hygiene when cooking for babies and toddlers.
• Avoid sweetened foods, including cordials and fruit nectars. Here are some tips for tasty and healthy desserts.
• Don't salt the child's food as its kidneys are not yet fully developed.
• Porridge is healthy, but home-made porridge does not contain much iron. It's better to buy special iron-enriched baby porridge and formula.
• Baby food made of rice has been found in some studies to contain minute amounts of arsenic. If your baby likes rice-based porridge and formula, by all means give it to them but alternate between different types and different brands.
• The baby probably doesn't need to drink anything extra if it is breastfeeding. But if it does get thirsty, water is the best drink.
• Feed your baby with rounded cutlery, because its mouth is very sensitive. Sharp spoons can hurt the baby's mouth and put it off eating.
• It's good to let the baby lick its lips as it encourages speech development.
• If you feed the baby, make sure you have plenty of time. Allow the baby to finish chewing before offering the next spoonful.
• Encourage your baby to eat vegetables by liquidising them or combining them with fruit.
Read more about which nutrients the baby needs.
• Vary sandwiches and other foods by cutting them into different shapes. Babies and toddlers enjoy feeling their food and putting it into their mouths themselves.
• Freeze baby food in small microwave-safe jars. Frozen portions can be taken out of their moulds and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
• Never save food that your child has already tasted. Feed the child a little at a time to prevent unnecessary waste.
• Let your child play with its food. A large bib, a plastic tablecloth under the baby's chair and, if necessary, a change of clothes after the meal. All these things help make eating more enjoyable for your baby.
• Eat with your baby. Ideally, the whole family should eat together. Show how fun and tasty food is.