We have discussed how to introduce solid foods to your baby at 6 months, but what happens now?
This information is not just for children who are over weight but for all families. However, being over weight at any age is not good for you now or in the future. Overweight adults are at an increase risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.
There is a lot you can do to help you and your child achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Remember, if you’re concerned about your child’s weight then your GP, practice nurse or health visitor for help and advice.
For children to eat healthily the family needs to adopt a healthy attitude to healthy eating.
- Eat as a family with no distractions e.g. TV / video games
- Prepare food at home, limit take-away and ready meals
- Regular pattern of meals to reduce snacking
- Cook the same food for everybody
- Involve your children in the cooking / preparation (being aware of safety around hot ovens, hobs and knives)
Healthy eating rules for young children
- Base meals on starchy carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice and potatoes.
- Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Eat lean proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses and lentils.
- Cut down on saturated fat (found in processed meats, pies, cakes and biscuits).
- Cut down on sugary foods such as biscuits, cakes and fizzy drinks.
- Cut out sugary drinks like sweetened fruit juices and fizzy drinks, and if you give your child unsweetened fruit juice, dilute it with water. Healthy drinks for your children are water and milk, up to the age of 2, children should have full fat milk, and from 2 onwards you can gradually introduce semi-skimmed milk. For further information on drink options https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/water-drinks-nutrition/
- Cut down on salt, both in cooking and at the table. Most children over the age of 4 eat too much salt. Supermarket ready meals and processed meats are often high in salt, so check food labels when you buy. Many people add salt out of habit, it is normally unnecessary and your food will taste good without it, how to reduce salt: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/tips-for-a-lower-salt-diet/
- Healthy meal and snack ideas: https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/recipes and ‘me size meals’ information, to help provide information on portion sizes for children.
- Join Change4life for recipe ideas, fun activities, offers and fun healthy eating tips https://registration.change4life.co.uk/change4life
What a balanced meal looks like
Use the Eatwell Guide to help you get a balance of healthier and more sustainable food. It shows how much of what you eat overall should come from each food group.
How to become more active?
Once your child can walk on their own, it is recommended they are physically active for a minimum of 3 hours a day. Get involved in your local children’s centre for fun activities for you and your family https://www.lewishamcfc.org.uk/ .
If you are worried about your own weight and health, you can speak to your GP where if appropriate can refer you to either a weightloss programme or exercise groups, for further information: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/socialcare/health/nhs_health_checks/lewisham-lifestyle-hub/Pages/default.aspx
Worried about pollution in the air?
Lewisham Air app lets you check the pollution level in Lewisham and plan low-pollution walking and cycling routes using a specially-designed map. You can download Lewisham Air from the Apple Store or Google Play. Search Lewisham Air to download the app!
You will probably be aware of the effects of smoking on your own health, but do you know your children are also affected by passive smoking, when you smoke in their environment?
If your child regularly is exposed to passive smoking they are at the same risks as you in the long term including heart disease and lung cancer. In their childhood passive smoking is especially harmful as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems. Your child may suffer from illnesses including:
- chest infections – like pneumonia and bronchitis
- ear infections
- coughs and colds
Children are particularly vulnerable in the family car where second hand smoke can reach hazardous levels even with the windows open. To protect children since October 2015 it has been illegal to smoke in a private vehicle if there’s a young person under 18 present. (NHS Choices https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/passive-smoking-protect-your-family-and-friends/)