The first step to making a vegan yoghurt recipe is to choose your base.
I strongly recommend choosing a calcium fortified plant milk.
Soy is perfect as it has the best profile for protein. If your child is following a milk and soy free diet, you may wish to choose a nut, oat or coconut based drink.
Just remember to check for the following:
has the plant drink of choice been fortified with calcium?
does it have any B vitamins?
any added vitamin D?
any added sugar?
any other bonus nutrients e.g. Vitamin B12 or iodine?
It’s a small commitment of your time but did you know that it’s apparently very easy to make? You will also be in control of any added sugars, meaning, if you struggle to choose the best children’s yoghurt you will thoroughly enjoy making your own!
Try this recipe that I found online:
1 L of plant drink
1 dose or 1 capsule of milk-free probiotic
2 teaspoons sugar
Mix the ingredients together and follow the instructions of your yoghurt maker. If you don’t have one, mix the ingredients in a glass jar, cover with a cheesecloth and allow the vegan yoghurt to develop for up to 24-48 hours in a warm place.
This vegan yoghurt recipe is brilliant as it has very little added sugar. When you start reading nutrition labels of sweetened non-dairy based yoghurts, you will notice that although marketed as “healthy”, some brands of vegan yoghurts do contain sugar by up to 12g per 100g.
What’s more, some brands offer a blend of added sugar with fruit which also contributes to the overall sugar content of the yoghurt.
Keep it simple
No time to follow through with this vegan yoghurt recipe? You’ll find that the supermarket branded ‘plain’ or simple non-dairy and milk free yoghurt-like offerings are suitable, but they just may not have any added calcium or bonus vitamins and minerals.
A dessert quick enough to please is to blitz a large handful of fresh or frozen berries and/or mango. Now pour the delicious fruit puree over any unsweetened milk-free yoghurt. Simple yet delicious.
Mastering Food Allergy
Does your child have a food allergy? Do you also worry about fussiness and tantrums at the dinner table?
Does it feel like your child has regressed from what used to be good eating and you just need help expanding the variety of their free from diet? Get in touch to see how I can help you.
Spooning a bit of yoghurt onto my children’s breakfast cereal this morning, I realised how overwhelming choosing a children’s yoghurt is for parents. Outbursts from the media suggest that there are shocking amounts of sugar in children’s yoghurts. Should you be worried?
And I bet you are wondering whether low sugar yoghurt really is the best?
So, do you need to worry about the sugar in children’s yoghurt and surely it’s a staple snack that makes up healthy lunches for kids, right?
Less than 5g of sugar per 100g
Just when you think you’ve got it right, Public Health England announces that you should be looking for children’s yoghurt that provides no more than 5g of sugar per 100g.
Fabulous, except that in reality unless manufacturers comply immediately, this means that children will no longer be able to eat any of the children’s yoghurts on the supermarket shelves today.
Yes, you read that right. If you know how to screen nutrition labels (or read how to screen breakfast cereals), then you know that there’s a mathematical sugar problem.
You see, there’s more than one type of sugar in yoghurt. The most important type is a carbohydrate called lactose. It’s not an added sugar, it’s just the type of carbohydrate found in milk and dairy products that are commonly referred to as “milk sugar”.
In my opinion, this is a smart carb. Meaning, you don’t need to restrict it as it’s unlikely to spike your child’s blood sugar level. Unless the yoghurt is laced with sugar of course.
Yoghurt is also a source of protein, may have added vitamin D and for kids, it’s a tasty way of getting in their daily dose of calcium.
Now I know what you are thinking, will the added vitamins and minerals in children’s yoghurt compensate for the added sugar?
“Choose a brand providing less than 10g sugar per 100g”
Dealing with sugar in children’s yoghurt
If you want to offer children’s yoghurt then the best type will be a brand that offers less than 10g per 100g.
The first 5g of “sugar” in any type of yoghurt will usually be lactose. The rest will be added sugar.
The only brand and best children’s yoghurt to meet the golden criteria of less than 5g/100g will be natural, Greek or Greek-style plain yoghurt.
As soon as the fruit or added sugars and syrups are thrown into the recipe, the yoghurt will easily provide over 5g per 100g.
Added sugar obviously improves taste and if it’s from fruit that’s perfect. For a happy balance between getting in calcium and a healthy snack for children, I allow a teaspoon of sugar per 100g (so that’s a total of 10g per 100g after factoring in sugar from lactose).
Ingredients list reveals all
So a bit of sugar is forgivable? It depends. A valuable way of screening children’s yoghurt is to factor in the source of sugar.
One of the greatest things about UK labelling is that heavy ingredients are listed first according to its weight. Foods high in sugar will be listed as one of the first three ingredients.
This might not tell you much if there are only a few ingredients in the yoghurt, but if there’s fruit listed then not all of the sugars above 5g in the nutrition table will be from added sugars.
“Sugar, organic sugar, honey and syrups regardless of type all mean added or free sugars.”
Added vitamins and minerals
Added vitamins such as Vitamin D or minerals in children’s yoghurts are a bonus, yes, but it shouldn’t be the main reason for choosing a brand.
In fact, I would be highly suspicious of any packaging that positions the yoghurt as a mighty choice for children due to its added vitamins and minerals.
The shocking truth is that the product is bound to be hiding lots of added sugar.
Take this example of a children’s yoghurt. There’s 12g of sugar per 100g. If we allow up to 5g of sugar from lactose, then there’s at least 8g of added sugar.
If you have a toddler, they are ideally taking a daily vitamin D supplement so there is no nutritional benefit from choosing this brand of children’s yoghurt for its vitamin D.
Yes, there are groups of children who are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency and would benefit from foods fortified with it. The focus of this post is about choosing a brand of yoghurt from a sugar perspective.
What’s the verdict? Of course, this range of children’s yoghurt isn’t ideal. But let me tell you a little secret. You’ll find this Peppa Pig range of yoghurt in my own fridge.
Why am I sharing this with you? My daughter loves to select this brand of yoghurt when we go shopping. I indulge her and let her buy it and she’s offered a single pot once or twice a week. That seems to satisfy her. It’s about balance and considering what else your child eats during the week. There are also alternative protein and calcium-rich foods that can help bridge the gap in meeting requirements if you choose not to give yoghurt as a snack or dessert most days of the week.
A valuable way of balancing sugar: remind kids that all foods are delicious. Vegetables are delicious and so are high sugar foods. My philosophy with food is that my children shouldn’t feel deprived or restricted in any way. Instead, we are aiming for balanced eating. Could that approach work for you?
Should you go organic yoghurt?
That’s entirely up to you. Whilst many organic brands of yoghurt may be high in added sugar they may, in fact, have a decent chunk of fruit contributing to the total amount of sugar.
Valuable ways of reducing sugar: keep a tub of natural or Greek yoghurt in the fridge. This means that you can go half and half.
For every spoonful of ‘high sugar’ yoghurt, you can swirl in a spoonful of organic plain or Greek yoghurt (if you are that way inclined). Congratulations – you’ve managed to reduce the sugar content by fifty percent. Simple, but effective.
It’s a portion thing
I hate to break it to you, but apart from any added vitamins and pretty packaging, children’s yoghurts are just regular yoghurt.
full fat – children need the calories for growth
portion size – they are ideally packaged into 60g pots
added vitamins e.g. vitamin D, but just be aware that if your child is under 5 years of age, they require a daily 10ug vitamin D supplement and won’t need the added vitamin in the yoghurt
no artificial sweeteners – if you choose reduced-fat or sugar yoghurts for yourself, then you may prefer to buy a children’s brand of yoghurt. You can also stock up on regular yoghurts and portion out the amount required to suit your children.
How to choose the best children’s yoghurt
In summary valuable ways are by:
choosing brands of children’s yoghurt offering less than 10g per 100g of sugar
go half and half by swirling in natural or Greek yoghurt without added sugar
add your own fruit to sweeten plain or natural yoghurt
any added vitamins and minerals are just a bonus, the main factors to drive your decision should be the amount and source of any added sugar
if your child has been diagnosed with diabetes, your dietitian may recommend allowing for brands containing artificial sweeteners
there’s nothing wrong with regular adult yoghurt, just be mindful that portion sizes are appropriate for little bellies
How do you select children’s yoghurt? Do share below.
If you enjoy mung beans recipes then you probably love Asian/Indian style dishes or you follow a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.
Either way, mung beans are fantastic to include regularly into your child’s diet as the beans are rich in fibre, zinc, selenium and folic acid (folate).
These plant-based foods are also a delicious source of plant proteins on a vegan and vegetarian diet.
Key micronutrients in mung beans
Folate or folic acid is required to make red blood cells. Children who don’t eat enough are at risk of a certain type of anaemia that ultimately affects how well their body develops. From healthy cell and tissue growth to help with converting the foods children eat to energy, this B vitamin has important functions in the body.
If your child suffers from constipation, mung beans are brilliant. It’s so incredibly rich in fibre, that it exceeds expectations from a plant food. This fibre rich food also enables food to be digested slowly which keeps bellies full for longer.
Cooking with mung beans
Mung beans are high in phytate, which can affect how well minerals such as calcium and iron are absorbed by the body.
Cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds also contain some phytate which is thought to provide health benefits such as protection against some types of cancers and antioxidant action.
The good news is that the overall risk of poor mineral absorption is low and the common practice of soaking beans overnight is an effective way of breaking down phytate.
Mung beans recipes
1 cup dried mung beans
2-3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
Soak the mung beans overnight. In a pan of fresh water, boil the beans over medium heat until soft they are soft to touch. Make sure that the beans are completely submerged in water. Total cooking time is around 25 – 30 minutes. Remember to skim the frothy bits that form whilst the mung beans cook.
Once the mung beans are cooked, drain then stir in the desiccated coconut. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Breakfast mung beans recipe
You can add a teaspoon of unrefined cane sugar for a healthy breakfast recipe idea for kids. Although unrefined, this is still a type of added sugar. An alternative could be honey. if you naturally sweeten it with fruit, do let me know.
Add it to soups
If you are vegetarian or vegan and you need to bulk out soups with plant-proteins, add the mung beans as a “filler” into soup dishes.
Mung bean curry
Saute onions, ginger and cumin seeds. Add chopped tomatoes and a can of coconut milk. Simmer and serve with rice or an alternative gluten-free grain such as polenta. Garnish with plenty of fresh coriander.
Mung bean burrito
Mix the cooked mung beans with quinoa, avocado and a grated vegetable such as carrots. Now stuff a gluten-free pita pocket or large tortilla for a Mexican meal.
Mastering Food Allergy
Does your child have a food allergy? Do you also worry about fussiness and tantrums at the dinner table?
Does it feel like your child has regressed from what used to be good eating and you just need help expanding the variety of their free from diet? Get in touch to see how I can help you.
In a nutshell, tryptophan is an amino acid, a building block used to make protein.
It’s, therefore, no surprise that foods abundant in tryptophan are found in foods that provide protein.
If you are wondering how tryptophan in protein foods can help you and your child sleep better, the secret lies in tryptophan’s special role in making a chemical called serotonin.
Before I explain how serotonin is used by the body to promote sleep, let’s look at which foods contain the amino acid tryptophan. As plant-based diets have been believed to extend life by preserving heart health and improving the quality of sleep, plant tryptophan foods have been listed first.
Seeds: pumpkin, chia, sesame, sunflower and flaxseeds
Nuts: pistachio, cashew, almonds, hazelnuts
Soya: tofu, boiled soybeans
Beans and lentils
Cheese: all types especially parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella, romano, Gruyere
Encourage your children and family to eat from a range of the above plant proteins daily. Ground nuts and seeds can be added to breakfast cereals or even a breakfast smoothie. Just remember to add oats which double up as a smart carb and also a source of tryptophan for a natural sleep aid.
A spread of cashew and almond nut butter on toast is a nutritious breakfast or after-school snack option whilst lentils are tasty and an easy weaning recipe for babies and toddlers. Adolescents will benefit too from this plant source of iron food.
Tofu is fantastic in a stir-fry whilst cheese, meat and eggs can be used to stuff sandwiches. You can also cook fish with vegetables for a nutritious and tasty meal.
Better still, prepare casseroles using beans and lentils for an extra boost in tryptophan to help you and your family sleep better.
What is serotonin?
Did you know that tryptophan is an essential ingredient by the body to make serotonin?
Seratonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced in the gut and brain. It has a wide variety of functions including regulating mood, appetite, digestion and making the sleep hormone melatonin.
But I’d like to let you in on a little secret. For children who suffer from ongoing chronic sleep problems, a doctor may prescribe melatonin as a medication. This may help with sleep as melatonin’s role in the body is to take care of the body’s sleep-wake cycle and rhythm.
However, for a natural sleep aid, keep reading to find out how to sleep better using tryptophan foods.
Why tryptophan foods for sleep?
Without tryptophan foods, your child’s body is unable to make serotonin and subsequently melatonin . Melatonin is a hormone, that helps children’s bodies know when it’s time to sleep and wake up. The amount of light, as well as children’s internal clocks, help the body decide how much to make each day. Whilst melatonin levels drop by day, there’s a peak in the evening to alert the body that its time to sleep.
Vitamin B6 foods
Now here comes the good part.
Vitamin B6 is another water-soluble micronutrient that has a role in the production of melatonin in the body.
But there’s more. Zinc, magnesium and folic acid are also micronutrients required to make melatonin.
If you are feeling worried that it’s a lot to take on board just for the possible promise of a good night’s sleep, hear me out. When you encourage your child to eat a balanced diet from a variety of foods, they are most likely eating enough of the essential vitamins and minerals to aid sleep.
If you are interested in vitamin B6 foods, keep scrolling down for a full list of foods.
FRUIT & VEG
Potato with skin on
Chickpeas, pinto beans, soybeans and lentils
If you’ve optimised your child’s diet for tryptophan foods and still experience sleeping problems have you considered the following?
Regardless of age, stick to your child’s usual bedtime routine. If it’s dinner, quiet play, brush teeth followed by bed, then stick to the routine and repeat this at the same time every day.
Children crave routine and relaxing activities such as a story before bed or a glass of warm milk. It’s relaxing and gets your child prepared for the act of sleep.
If your child is a little older, encourage reflective practice at the end of the day. Encourage them to divulge what’s on their mind and tease our anything that’s troubling them so that they go to bed relaxed and worry-free.
Encourage fluids earlier in the day and ask children to visit the toilet each night prior to bed. If they forget, try reminding them to always use the toilet immediately after brushing their teeth so that it forms part of their bedtime routine.
Sugar foods are not linked to bed wetting, however, some foods can have a lot of hidden salt which can drive thirst. Offer snacks that are light and nutritious such as fruit or yoghurt versus salted crisps, or cheese and crackers.
Be wary of any hidden salt in foods which can drive excessive thirst particularly by the end of the day.
Remember to switch off electronic devices and the television at least 30 minutes to an hour before bed.
Don’t allow children to keep electronic devices in their bedroom. This reduces temptation by older children from engaging with social media late into the night.
Replace time restrained or sedentary screen time with additional energetic play, and trade indoor for outdoor time, to promote sufficient sleep.
Remember toddlers need up to 180 minutes of play whilst older children need at least one hour of activity that is of moderate intensity. Walking, dancing, rollerblading, sports and running around in the park all count towards their daily activity scores.
Is dairy useful in promoting sleep?
There isn’t sufficient evidence that milk promotes sleep, but to a child, the act of drinking a warm glass of milk may be comforting. There is some thought that tryptophan present in milk may help promote sleep and hence why it is a popular drink before bed. You now know that tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin which is required to make melatonin in the brain so if you are worried about bed wetting and prefer to skip it, offer a good range of tryptophan foods throughout the day instead (see the list above).
Are there any foods that help promote a deeper sleep level for children?
Include tryptophan foods and vitamin B6 rich foods across meals during the day. You should also consider smart carbs which are essentially carbohydrate foods that are rich in fibre. What this means is that the glucose from carbohydrate foods is released slowly priming your child’s body for hopefully a restful night of sleep without any night wakings from hunger or generally feeling unwell.
The advantage of offering regular meals and snacks to children is that there won’t be any peaks or troughs in their blood glucose levels overnight.
Foods such as sliced banana over toast with a spread of nut butter are easy after school choices for snacking, whilst vegetable sticks with hummus make excellent lunch box foods.
The bottom line
Encourage a diet that is abundant in a range of foods consisting of smart carbs, fruit and vegetables, meat, chicken and fish as well as plant sources of protein to naturally aid sleep via tryptophan foods. A solid sleep routine is important, as is plenty of physical activity to relieve any built-up stress before preparing tired children for a night of restful sleep. How do you manage sleep in your household?
Let Me Help
Would you like to meet a children’s dietitian who has successfully helped families solve their nutrition problems from around the world?
Whether you are worried about picky eating, food allergy or need to help your child build a healthy relationship with food, I’ll help you manage these with confidence.
For bookings and enquiries email me on email@example.com
Let your teenage children discover the authentic way to glowing hair and skin. Contrary to popular belief, popping vitamin supplements won’t necessarily guarantee hair growth and thickness.
So if you are tired of reading about vitamin supplements for hair that promise magical wonders from specialist ingredients that don’t work, you are probably right to ditch them.
If you worry about your child’s hair health, read the following hair growth tips for all-year-round expert advice on vitamins and minerals for healthy hair.
Biotin (vitamin B7)
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that is bound to protein and therefore found in most foods. It is required by the body in very small amounts, making deficiency very rare, particularly as the bacteria in your gut can also make some.
Nevertheless, if your child doesn’t get enough of this crucial vitamin then deficiency can cause hair loss.
Children with a poor intake of protein and eating disorders resulting in protein to energy malnutrition is another group who may experience hair loss. Children therefore need adequate intake of both biotin and protein for healthy hair.
It’s always best to encourage vitamins from food versus a supplement as taking large quantities can be harmful when taken over a long period of time.
Fixing any gaps in your child’s diet is therefore favourable than reaching out for a vitamin and mineral supplement.
Iron is an unexpectedly important mineral to consider for healthy hair. It’s not surprising that children and adults with hair loss may have an underlying iron deficiency.
There isn’t enough evidence to routinely recommend checking iron levels if children experience hair loss, but if your child’s doctor plans to run any blood tests, you could request iron testing to be considered and added to the list of investigations.
Animal foods such as meat, chicken, fish and eggs are the main sources of iron that is absorbed efficiently.
If your family follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, then build family meals around dark greens, lentils, pulses, nuts, seeds and tofu. Pair plant sources of iron foods with vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables to help children’s bodies absorb the plant iron (non-haem iron).
An advanced guide to vitamins and minerals for healthy hair wouldn’t be complete without mentioning zinc.
Zinc supports the immune system, aids wound healing and play a role in maintaining healthy hair. If your adolescent child is complaining of hair loss, then do ask your family doctor to check for zinc deficiency.
How much zinc should children eat?
Zinc is usually found alongside iron-rich foods. Think meat, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, peas and lentils. Fortified breakfast cereals, as well as wheat germ, all-bran, shredded wheat and oatcakes, are other sources.
Nuts are brilliant for snacking and don’t forget that sunflower and sesame seeds can be ground then sprinkled over breakfast cereals and stir-fries for an additional boost in zinc.
If your family doctor prescribes zinc supplements, make sure that your child’s levels are monitored regularly to avoid high blood levels of this mineral.
Work with your specialist paediatric dietitian to find out how you can optimise your child’s diet further for zinc.
Boron, Selenium and Vitamin A supplements
In this guide to vitamins and minerals for healthy hair, I recommend exercising caution when supplementing your child’s diet using vitamin and mineral supplements.
If your child eats a wide range of food and does not have any diagnosed vitamin and mineral deficiencies, chances are your child probably will not need a supplement.
Be careful as overdoing vitamin and mineral supplements can lead to excessive intake of nutrients such as boron, selenium and vitamin A.
Vitamin A is also a fat-soluble vitamin, so unlike water-soluble B and C vitamins, any excess intake that is not required by the body cannot be excreted by the kidneys or in stools.
Why does it matter? Accumulation of vitamin A, selenium and boron can manifest as hair loss, the very thing that you are trying to avoid.
As a rule of thumb, if you are aiming for healthy hair, encourage children to eat a variety of foods. This beats relying on supplements to meet their daily requirements of vitamins and minerals for healthy hair.
If you need recipe inspiration, head over to the recipes sectionwhere you will find many of the above hair loving vitamins incorporated into family recipes.
Antioxidants and other nutrients
It’s easy to get swept up in the urgency of correcting any hair loss but just know that there isn’t any proven science that antioxidants, essential fatty acids, niacin, vitamin D and E supplements can help fix the problem.
Focus on encouraging your child to eat a wide variety of foods. Obviously true nutrient blood deficiencies should be corrected quickly using a combination of diet manipulation and supplements under medical supervision.
In this guide to vitamins and minerals for healthy hair, I recommend including protein foods at every meal to maximise opportunities for children to eat the three essential hair nutrients (biotin, iron and zinc).
If your child eats a variety of foods, then skip the vitamin counter. They probably won’t need a vitamin and mineral supplement.
Unless your child eats livers daily, vitamin A toxicity is rare. Nevertheless, do consider whether over the counter vitamin and mineral pills are necessary. Could children meet their requirements for essential nutrients from food instead?
Easy salmon and haddock fish cake recipe, that will be ready in 30 minutes.
This recipe is milk, egg, gluten and soy free and based on the delicious flavours of both potato and sweet potato.
Potatoes are smart carbs, meaning that they are based on carbohydrates that will be gradually broken down into glucose for energy. With the addition of a high-quality protein such as fish, rather than a spike in blood glucose, your child can enjoy carbs that will be slowly broken down.
Sweet potato is rich in vitamin A whilst salmon is an oily fish bursting with omega-3 fat goodness. Both foods are important brain foods for kids that will help with learning and vision.
These salmon and haddock fish cakes can also be frozen if you prefer and even cut up into little fingers for baby-led weaning.
Between the internet overflowing with unchecked information, well-meaning relatives, neighbours and friends, I am not surprised that weaning onto high allergenic foods is confusing.
The internet generally focuses on just about everything that you ‘should’ avoid, whilst friends may share what’s worked for them specifically.
But here’s the problem with that.
What works for one child might not work for yours.
Children need and deserve tailor-made nutrition advice from an expert who works in the area of nutrition and dietetics, particularly when you are seeking advice on how to start weaning high allergenic foods.
Childhood allergy is increasing. Here’s what AllergyUKsays “A staggering 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy and the number of sufferers is on the rise, growing by around 2 million between 2008 and 2009 alone. Almost half (48%) of sufferers have more than one allergy (Mintel, 2010)”
The good news is that the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) released their latest report to confirm that complimentary solids should only be commenced around 6 months of age and not before 4 months.
This is not new news I agree, but what’s great is that there should no longer be any confusion about when to start weaning your baby onto complimentary food or solids.
Don’t be tempted by misleading headlines that promise sleep with early weaning. If your baby is less than four months of age, developmentally, they are just not ready for solids.
Early introduction of solids reduces the amount of breastmilk your baby will take which increases their chance of infectious illness.
If you can, aim to breastfeed exclusively until 6 months of age. Breast milk provides your baby with protective proteins such as lactoferrin, secretory IgA, lysozyme and bifidus factors. These help your baby fight against bacterial and viral infections (reference).
“Babies introduced to solids earlier are much more likely to eat more than what their growing bodies need.”
The SACN report revealed that almost 75% of babies surveyed in the UK in 2013 exceeded their energy requirements. This puts them at great risk of childhood obesity.
Babies and children do come in all shapes and sizes. Teaching children to love their body regardless of their shape or size is powerful.
As parents, responding to hunger cues appropriately is important. If you program babies to eat more than they need that’s worrying and this may have hefty consequences in the future.
The verdict? Listen to your baby’s hunger cues. Babies cry for lots of reasons not just for hunger. If you have just fed your baby, do they need a cuddle, are they cold or did an unexpected noise wake them?
What about food allergy?
Let’s discuss the 290-page SACN document. I’ve taken out the most important points with regards to food allergy and weaning on high allergenic foods for you.
What are the common allergenic foods?
Dairy, egg, sesame, wheat, peanut and fish
Which high allergenic weaning foods should you introduce and when?
Traditionally, the popular advice was to avoid all high allergenic foods including peanuts during pregnancy and when you first start introducing solids. The latest evidence has refuted this advice.
Recent innovative research in the area of weaning has blown our minds away on how you should be approaching weaning.
You can now start offering your baby just about anything as long as you start around 6 months of age and avoid adding salt or sugar. Remember to move swiftly onto iron-rich foods including lentils, pulses, leafy greens, meat, chicken, eggs and fish.
You may still want to start with vegetables and fruit for first tastes.
But there’s no reason why you need to delay introducing cooked eggs or fish for example.
If it’s planned for a family meal then you can introduce these high allergenic foods any time from when your baby is between 6 and 12 months of age.
How safe is it to give your baby high allergenic foods?
Only up to 8% of babies will develop a food allergy in the UK.
The latest report by SACN and two UK studies LEAP and EAT agree that you don’t need to avoid or delay introducing high allergenic foods.
“In fact, the deliberate avoidance or delayed introduction of any of the specific high allergenic foods may actually increase your child’s risk of allergy to that food.”
In other words, do not delay introducing eggs, fish, pasteurised dairy, gluten/wheat, sesame and nuts.
This advice stands even if someone in your home other than your baby has a food allergy to one of the above food allergens.
Does baby need an allergy test first?
Allergy testing can help identify babies who are at a very high risk of developing a food allergy.
It doesn’t prevent your baby from allergies and unnecessarily delaying introducing high allergenic foods whilst you wait for an appointment, for example, could potentially increase your baby’s risk of developing an allergy to that food.
The best course of action is to consult with a medical professional and paediatric dietitian.
Which babies are at high risk of developing a food allergy?
If your baby suffers from eczema, particularly severe eczema or has an existing food allergy then he/she will be more likely to be at risk of reacting to other high allergenic foods.
How do you start introducing high allergenic foods?
Let your baby guide you and follow his/her pace. You can start by introducing any one of the allergenic foods one at a time. For specific advice, speak to a paediatric dietitian.
If you start with eggs, for example, start by offering 1/2 a baby spoonful per day and slowly increase the amount offered every few days.
Once your baby is tolerating eggs without any reaction, just remember to offer it weekly so that they are regularly exposed to this allergenic food.
If your baby has severe eczema and you are worried, chat to your health visitor, GP or paediatric dietitian for specific advice.
Can I still follow baby-led weaning if I suspect food allergy?
Yes, you can! When it comes to something like eggs, you can prepare quiche or omelettes and cut it into strips that baby can pick up.
Foods such as pieces of bread and pasta containing wheat/gluten are perfect when your baby is ready for these textures.
When introducing peanuts, simply spread the smooth nut butter onto toast whilst sesame seeds can be sprinkled over stir-fried vegetables. Babies will enjoy picking the veg using their hands.
Fish can be incorporated into home-made fish fingers and cakes or a petite tuna sandwich is perfect too. A fish sauce to coat pasta is fantastic too, but don’t mind the mess.
“The biggest one for me was when the experts said that colostrum is enough until your milk comes in.”
Since the year 2000, in the UK much more women initiated breastfeeding than ever before, but only a third continued beyond six weeks.
What is it about breastfeeding that makes it difficult to nail?
I asked experts, mums like you who had successfully breastfed babies for at least 12 months.
Priscilla, Anna, Krisha, Emily and Shanika share their breastfeeding tips and truths, and what they would have liked experts to have shared with them before they embarked on their breastfeeding journey.
Priscilla, 37, working in finance told me “well quite frankly it f**** hurts but the experts don’t really talk about the pain with you”.
Anna, 38, shared “there’s the risk of blocked ducts and the teeth grinding when your baby is older. In the beginning, your nipples lose all feeling but it eventually doesn’t hurt anymore”.
Krisha, 35, full-time mum said: “it’s hard…and some women can’t actually breastfeed.”
“It’s heavily quoted that only a small number of women will be unable to breastfeed and able to produce enough milk for their baby. But where’s the proof and why do so many women give up before 6 months?”
“The lack of support, minimal access to breastfeeding advisors as well as the lack of understanding that breastfeeding is a skill, not a preexisting behaviour, doesn’t help.”
So, yes, breastfeeding is a learned skill and not a magical thing that just happens because you give birth.
The lack of this realisation and awareness bruises the rosy picture of breastfeeding, leaving you heartbroken as soon as you realise that breastfeeding isn’t exactly magical when you first get started.
“Women need help and be taught how to breastfeed and baby needs to learn to latch.”
All five women agreed that it was “hard” and “painful”, to begin with.
My own personal experience post an emergency caesarean against a cocktail of hormones isn’t pretty. I felt frustrated when my baby didn’t latch properly.
The midwife repeatedly showed me how to teach baby to latch, but as soon as she left the cubicle, I struggled and panicked. I could barely move, my stitches hurt and I really needed my husband by my side for the next 48 hours.
Emily, another full-time mum in her 30s said: “it hurts but the experts tell you that it’s not supposed to hurt”.
So who’s got it wrong? The breastfeeding mums or the experts?
Is it time that we spoke more openly about the pain and what we can do to address it?
Kellymom.com is invaluable, a resource that all mums should know about. There are useful tips, advice and problem-solving answers on one website.
Well, we’ve established that during the early days of breastfeeding, pain is part of it so let’s just embrace that, identify what can alleviate it and move on.
Women’s bodies aren’t used to experiencing a tiny hungry being sucking and feeding on you often. It takes time to adjust.
But that’s the other thing. “Cluster feeding – nobody prepares you for that,” said Emily.
Either baby wants to feed every couple of hours or by dusk, you are both glued together all evening. Even a toilet break can be a little tricky.
Having worked in the area of paediatrics for fourteen years, this is not news for me. However, experiencing it firsthand is entirely different.
But you learn and you adjust and practice definitely helps you identify and respond to your baby’s hunger cues better.
“The biggest one for me was when the experts said that colostrum is enough until your milk comes in.”
Colostrum is enough
Samina, a business analyst, 37, said “the biggest one for me was when the experts said that colostrum is enough until your milk comes in.
In my case my baby was ravenous, the colostrum wasn’t forthcoming so the early days was a miserable experience.
I relied on some formula for a short while. I’m glad I did what felt right for me at the time. I breastfed my daughter for 12 months and beyond”.
Krisha at times felt like a “cow” and despite seeing very positive images of women breastfeeding openly in public, she preferred the privacy offered by a nursing cover.
I personally couldn’t agree more and still love the nursing cover that a girlfriend lent me.
As Krisha said, “it’s nice to have a cover but sometimes bub hates it and you have to flash your boob.
Aside from that, finding baby-friendly places to feed can be a challenge.”
Do you know that you can legally breastfeed just about anywhere in the UK?
“Breastfeeding in public places is protected under the Equality Act 2010for as long as you wish to breastfeed your baby, toddler or small child without an age restriction.”
All women confirmed that they loved the breastfeeding journey, myself included. “It was magical to help them go to sleep or to soothe them on an aeroplane,” said Krisha.
She also confessed, “I was scared to let it go in the end. The bond during breastfeeding is just so lovely.”
Shanika advises you to persevere. “Try to get through one day at a time and one day it will feel like the most natural thing.”
“Try to get through one day at a time and one day it will feel like the most natural thing.”
The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented.
There is strong evidence suggesting a reduced risk of infectious illness, such as bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, gastrointestinal illnesses, respiratory tract infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, urinary tract infection, and late-onset sepsis in preterm infants (Ogbuanu et al).
No one will judge you If you use a bottle of formula to get a night’s rest.
I very much believe that a happy mummy equals a happy baby.
If you plan to quit breastfeeding earlier than planned, this is an important decision so if your sleep, nutrition and mood are non-existent, try to reset the scales on that first.
Get help (you may need to resort to paid help if you don’t have your family to support you) before you take any decision.
Try not to compare your story with other mums, it will distract you from your goals. Fast forward to the future. Will you regret your decision?
Let’s stop formula shaming and focus on the bigger picture. If that bottle of formula is going to help you breastfeed for an additional 1, 3 or 6 months, then do what feels right for you and your baby and don’t have any regrets about it.
“Your baby is fed, safe and loved. That’s all that matters.”
“Would you like top tips for baking with your toddler? Then you will love this blog post from Ruth Chubb owner of Three Bears Cookery Club. Keep reading to find out her tips.”
Cooking with your toddler plays such an important part in their development, here are a few ways
it encourages them to explore new tastes and textures even for the fussy eaters!
Encouraging them to help you weigh out the ingredients can help develop their independence plus early literacy & maths skills by following the recipe together and talking through each step.
Making them feel involved and excited about what you are going to make.
Pouring, stirring, dividing mixture between cupcake cases develops their hand-eye coordination. Don’t worry if it’s a bit messy you can give it a wipe afterwards!
If you are making cupcake why not let their imaginations run wild and let them decorate them or if it’s a bigger cake talk about ideas on how you are going to decorate it when its cooled down.
Stuck for ideas? Here is a simple milk and gluten-free recipe that you can follow to help you apply the top tips shared above;
Try these top tips to make your baking stress free!
Get all the ingredients, utensils, baking trays etc. out before you start so you are not routing around the cupboards looking for items and then your toddler will get bored! Ask them to help set all the ingredients and play a little game as to what they think you might need.
Most toddlers love getting their hands messy so instead of a spoon let them get stuck in rubbing the butter and flour together!
Seize your moment
Set them up at a suitable table they can reach and sit down with them to do it. Get them excited about what you are going to make and ask them to think what it will taste like when it is ready!
Break down the recipe
Breaking the recipe down into simple steps helps too, so make sure it is something simple or a recipe that you are familiar making.
For each step tell them how much you need and get them to help you weigh the ingredients out. I think letting them spoon the flour onto the scales gives them a feeling of independence; that they are doing it and mummy is helping!
Ask them about the ingredients. For example, ask them if they know what it is and where they think it comes from? What do you think we need to put in next?
Tidy up time
Finally, there will be a mess and it will take longer than if you were to do it yourself, but the mess can be cleaned up afterwards, you could even encourage your little one to help with the tidying up while you are waiting for it to bake!
Most importantly enjoy the time with your little one and how proud they are going to be when their masterpiece is finished.
“Do you struggle with dairy free or gluten free baking? Watch the Facebook Live where Ruth Chubb shares fantastic tips on how to get your gluten free bread to rise and tips on perfecting your gluten free pizza base.”