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Baby’s First Foods

Posted on : 11-04-2014 | By : Cindy | In : Babies, Kids nutrition


When my baby hit six months I freaked out. Breast feeding had been easy – no planning or thought. Now I had to start cooking for this tiny human and my brain was still in sleep deprived mush. So I dug up all the articles I had ever written about feeding babies to remind myself what to do!! Advice has changed since then so The New Zealand Healthy Food Guide (a great magazine which you can read online) asked me to write an update to the fraught subject of Baby’s First Foods. Here is a shortened version of it.

When should I start giving my baby solids?

Start your baby on solids at around six months. As with adults every baby is different and some may need solids a little earlier but definitely not before four months of age.

Starting solids too early (before 4 months) will stress your baby’s immature digestive system and kidneys, and increase the risk of developing eczema, asthma, type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease or food allergy.  If food replaces some of the milk at this early age, your baby may miss out on vital nutrients and energy for growth.

A full term baby is born with enough iron and zinc stores to last around six months. Around the six month mark it is very important that your baby start to eat some iron rich foods. Breast milk contains just small amounts of iron. More than 90% of a breast fed baby’s iron requirements must come from food once the initial iron stores are used up. Starting solids later than six months also increases your baby’s risk of developing a food allergy.

Breast milk is the number one source of nutrients and energy for babies. Babies should be exclusively breast fed for around six months and ideally during the introduction of new foods.


What should I start with?
Most mums start off with an iron rich food such as iron-fortified baby rice cereal thinned with breast milk or infant formula.

Losing weight – it starts in your head!

Posted on : 13-09-2010 | By : Cindy | In : Behaviours, Kids nutrition, Losing it - weight loss & obesity


Childhood Obesity Awareness Month Blog Carnival

This article was written for inclusion in the blog carnival hosted by http://www.littlestomaks.com to promote awareness of childhood obesity as part of the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Please read to the end of this article to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Last week my cousin and his 10 year-old son popped over to say hi. It’s been eight months since I last saw them. My cousin looked pretty much the same but I hardly recognised his son.

“Have you lost weight?” I asked him in the understatement of the year. He grinned and said proudly, “I’ve lost 11 kilograms since Christmas!” Eleven kilos is a lot for anyone to lose but for a ten-year-old kid it’s like almost a quarter of his body weight!

The change was incredible – not just in his external appearance but within himself. He was more relaxed and confident. His dad confirmed it. “Recently we went rock-climbing and he raced to the top faster than anyone else. In the past he has always struggled. Each time he finds he can do something really well that in the past he struggled with, it boosts his confidence even more.”

Healthy eating – 10 training tips for parents {part 2}

Posted on : 21-06-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Behaviours, Kids nutrition, Super-healthy...er...stuff


… continued from yesterday’s post

4. Eat Breakfast

breakfast fruitEating breakfast is one of the most important habits to develop. Even if it is just a banana and a glass of milk, teach your children that some food in their stomach kick-starts the body for the day making it easier to control weight and giving them energy for work, study and play.

5. Listen to your tummy

“If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding.” Children are born with the ability to stop eating when they are full. But we sometimes unintentionally over-ride this natural regulating mechanism when we make them finish their meal. I do encourage kids to take a few extra bites of the nutritious bits of the meal if they have left too much. If they insist they are full, I let them off – but they don’t get dessert.

Teach older children to listen to their tummy and ask themselves both quantity and quality questions: “Is my tummy full? Will I feel sick if I eat those extra biscuits? Is this what my body really needs right now?” You are training children to be aware of the many cues around them enticing them to eat, even if they are not hungry. Just because they are at the movies or passing the food hall at the shopping centre, do they really need to eat? If an advertisment shows a gorgeous model eating chocolate biscuits or a famous sportsman eating fast food, ask them if they think eating that food will really help them look like that model or be as fast as that sportsman. Do they eat that stuff in real life? What else do they do to look or perform like that? Will eating a certain food or drink give them the same lifestyle and friends as on the advert? If the answer is yes, are they the type of friends they really want?

6. Sit at the table to eat

There’s a time to play, a time to work, a time to rest and a time to eat. All too often the ‘time to eat’ is all the time! We balance dinner on our lap in front of TV, we stuff in a sandwich while continuing to work, and we grab snacks on the run. Train your children to focus on food when it’s meal time and then forget it until the next meal time. This means eating regular meals, sitting at the table – with no distractions. It not only reduces snacking, grazing and the risk of choking as you run around with food in your mouth, it also teaches social skills such as table manners, how to use a knife and fork, how to talk over a meal and patience to wait while others finish.

7. Eat Slowly

I spend my professional life telling people to slow down and enjoy their food, then find myself at home telling the kids to “hurry up and eat!” As much as we would love our children to finish their meal in minutes rather than hours, it won’t be too many years before we will be nagging those same kids to slow down and chew their food ‘properly’ rather than inhaling it. This is a good time to remind them that it takes about 20 minutes for the message to get from their stomach to their brain that they are full. So eating slowly is great for weight control. It also gives them time to chat – preferably without their mouth full!

8. Enjoy Cooking

Children are more likely to become discerning, adventurous eaters if they know how to cook. OK, we all know of overweight chefs but at the very least your future son or daughter-in-law will thank you! Give children their own apron – it’s half the fun of cooking – and let them help you in the kitchen. Buy a kids cook-book for inspiration and as they become more confident let them cook dinner once a week.

9. No routine visits to fast food outlets

As a child I used to think the kids who had fish and chips every Friday night were so lucky. As an adult I am glad this wasn’t part of my childhood training. If kids are trained to associate fast food with good feelings – as a reward for winning Saturday morning sport or as a fun family outing – what are the chances they will go to the sushi bar as adults?

10. Be a role model

Actions speak louder than words. What we teach should be what we do. Like any elite athlete, put the effort into training your children now and you are sure to reap the rewards later.

18 ideas to build toddlers’ bones

Posted on : 24-05-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Bones, Kids nutrition, Super-healthy...er...stuff


milk-in-glassCalcium is essential for young growing bodies and dairy foods (milk, yoghurt and cheese) are the best source of this bone-building nutrient. The NZ Ministry of Health recommends that children under the age of five drink 500ml (about two cups) of milk each day. Make it full-fat milk up until the age of two – they need the extra fat and kilojoules for growth.

If your child isn’t into large glasses of milk, try these calcium-rich food ideas:

  • Sprinkle cheese on food
  • Turn old bread into Cheese Crispies – slice bread into fingers, thinly spread with Vegemite or Marmite, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 160C for 20 minutes until crisp
  • Yoghurt – a handy snack. I buy natural yoghurt and add honey or fruit. Fruit yoghurt often has preservative which I try to steer clear of, especially for little ones. Check the use-by date: the fresher the yoghurt, the more live, healthy bacteria are in it.
  • Custard
  • Milk puddings
  • Rice pudding – turn left-over cooked rice into pudding by adding milk, a sprinkle of brown sugar and some sliced banana. Or beat an egg with 2 tablespoons of sugar and a cup of milk, pour over 1/2 cup of cooked rice and bake at 160C for 20-30 minutes
  • Smoothies and milkshakes
  • Milk ice-blocks – beat a little sugar and vanilla essence (or Milo) into milk and freeze in ice cube trays with an ice-block stick in each
  • Make porridge with milk instead of water
  • Make creamy soups with milk (not cream – it doesn’t have much calcium)
  • Mashed potato with plenty of milk
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower Cheese – Make a quick cheese sauce with milk, cornflour and grated cheese
  • Sardines on grainy toast
  • Salmon fried rice – make sure you eat the bones!
  • Oranges
  • Orange almond cake – oranges and almonds provide calcium but not as much as dairy foods
  • Calcium enriched soy drink – I like vanilla flavoured So Good
  • Play outside in the sun for a while each day. Sunshine stimulates bone-friendly vitamin D, weight-bearing exercise builds bones – and playing is more fun than house-work! Enjoy these bone-building moments with your children.