Christine Bailey (MSc PGCE MBANT) is qualified Nutritional Therapist, NLP Practitioner, Chef and Food and Health Consultant. She has over 16 years experience in the food and health industry working with a wide range of clients from Corporates, Food and Health Manufacturers to Charities, Local Authorities, families and children. Christine has presented seminars, workshops and courses over the years for Corporates, cookery schools, nutrition centres as well as running courses for Local Authorities, Charities, Schools and Colleges. She is a qualified teacher and a Healthy Schools Trainer as part of the Government?s Healthy Schools Partnership. She regularly works with children and family running nutrition courses, cookery days and demonstrations. She has a particular specialism in working with families with special needs and allergies. An experienced Food and Health Writer Christine regularly contributes to national and local Magazines and Newspapers on Food, Health, Nutrition and Fitness. She has appeared extensively in the media including radio and television. She is author of several health and recipe books including Tasty Treats for Healthy Kids, Top 100 Low Salt Recipes (Duncan Baird 2009), Top 100 Recipes for Brainy Kids (Duncan Baird 2009), Vitamix Cookbook (Duncan Baird 2009) and The Intelligent Way to Lose Weight (co-authored with Dr Mark Atkinson, Higher Nature 2009) She has enhanced CRB, full insurance, food and hygiene certificate and first aid certificate which are available on request.
There is now strong evidence that a high intake of salt can lead to high blood pressure and damage your heart. It has also been linked to increased risk of osteoporosis, certain cancers, kidney disease, obesity, fluid retention and asthma attacks. But its not just adults health which is affected by too much salt in the diet. Children are also consuming far too much which may increase their risk of developing diseases later in life. Dietary surveys estimate that 4-6 year old boys are consuming 5.2g per day over 70% more than the recommended maximum intake with girls consuming 4.6g per day over 50% more. Tempting as they are, the plethora of pre-packed processed foods, ready meals, takeaways and snacks such as crisps, biscuits and fizzy drinks all contribute to this high salt diet. Remember do not add salt to food whether during cooking or at the table and steer clear of processed foods, drinks and sauces which are often very high in salt.
Current recommended maximum daily salt intake for adults and children
AGE TARGET grams
0-6months Less than 1
4-6 years 3
7-10 years 5
11 plus / adults 6
The government recommends that children between six months and five years old take a vitamin drop containing vitamins A, C and D. This is to help ensure they get these important vitamins, particularly if they aren't eating a varied diet. Remember that the important thing here is that a supplement is just that: it should complement a healthy diet and your focus should always be on providing nutrient rich meals and snacks rather than relying on supplements.
Vitamin drops are free for children under five years from families receiving Income Support or an income-based Job Seekers Allowance. They can also be bought from child health clinics. As well as eating a healthy balanced diet, children also need sunlight to help them get enough vitamin D. (Remember to be careful not to let their skin burn.). Talk to your health visitor or GP if you are concerned about your child's diet.
Breastfeeding gives your baby lots of valuable nutrients, as well as protection against diseases. It's possible that your baby could develop an allergy to foods that you are eating, such as peanuts or other foods. This is why some mothers are advised to avoid peanuts when they're pregnant and when they're breastfeeding.
Serious allergies to nuts and nut products and some seeds affect about 1-2% of the population. But your baby is more likely to be affected if you, the baby's father, brother or sister suffers from the following conditions:
If this applies to you, it would be sensible to avoid peanuts and products containing them while you're breastfeeding. If there is a family history then its wise to avoid giving your child any peanuts or peanut products until he or she is at least three years old. And remember, you shouldn't give whole peanuts to any child under five because of the risk of choking. If you think your child might be allergic to peanuts, or any other food, talk to your GP.
Milk is an important part of a child's diet. It's a good source of energy and protein, and contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Milk and milk products are rich sources of calcium, which growing children and young people need to build healthy bones and teeth.
At about one year old, when a baby has been weaned from the breast or bottle, a switch to full-fat cows' milk can be made.
Children under two years old need full-fat milk because it gives them the extra calories and vitamin A that a younger child needs.
Children between the ages of one and three need to consume an average of 350mg of calcium a day. About 300ml full-fat milk (threefifths of a pint) would provide this.
Semi-skimmed and skimmed milk contain at least the same amount of protein, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc as full-fat milk, but less fat.
Once a child is two years old, he or she can start drinking semi-skimmed milk as long as they are eating well and having a wide range of foods. However, skimmed milk isn't suitable for children under five years old. It's too low in calories and contains only very small amounts of vitamins A and D, all of which children need.
It's important to note that although milk provides a range of nutrients it doesn't contain a significant amount of iron or vitamin C, both of which are also very important for growing children.
There are lots of things you can do to encourage your son to eat more fruit and veg. For example, you can add vegetables to hot dishes, such as casseroles and curries. Put peas and chopped or grated carrot in shepherd's pie, include pieces of courgette in lasagne, or add slices of pepper and other veg to pizza toppings. You can mash a range of vegetables with potatoes, cheese and flavour with garlic or pesto sauces. Try mashing them and then coating with breadcrumbs to create croquettes or fritters. Try a range of vegetables as crudits and dips sometimes partially cooking them helps young babies to eat them more easily. Make them in to quick soups and serve in small cups or with chunky bread. Many vegetables and fruits can be juiced together. Stir fries are very acceptable to children and sneak in extras with cheese sauces in pasta bakes and casseroles. With salads try a range of tasty dressings to entice them or combine with pasta and rice to make more substantial salads
If your son likes tomato-based sauces, try mixing these with pasta, or serve some ratatouille with a meal. If he likes mashed potato, you could mix in some mashed carrot, parsnip or swede. Corn on the cob can also be fun to eat and is popular with young children.
Remember, fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced fruit and veg all count towards our daily fruit and veg portions (but juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day). So, try serving tinned peaches with ice cream for dessert, add some dried fruit to breakfast cereal and give your son a glass of fruit juice with a meal instead of squash or a fizzy drink.
Banana sandwiches can make a good choice for lunch and segments of clementines can be a handy snack. Some children prefer raw vegetables, so try giving your son sticks of raw carrot, cucumber or pepper to nibble on.
Often, younger children are put off by the texture of fruit and vegetables, rather than the taste. So try making your own milkshakes and smoothies by blending pured fruit with milk or yogurt. Cooked fruit counts towards fruit and veg portions too, so you could serve baked apples with sultanas or fruit crumble for dessert.
You might like to get your son involved when you're making a meal, because children are more likely to eat food they've helped prepare. He could help you make red-pepper 'boats' stuffed with rice, cheese and onion, or make faces with slices of veg on top of a quiche or pizza.
Often, children need to be shown a food several times before they'll eat it. So, when you're eating some fruit or veg, show it to your son and tell him about it, so he's familiar with it before he tastes it. And if he refuses to eat a food at first, don't worry and don't give up just try again another time.
Don't give honey to your baby until he or she is one year old. This is because, very occasionally, honey can contain a type of bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby's intestines. This can cause serious illness (infant botulism). After a baby is a year old, the intestine has matured and the bacteria can't grow.
Remember, you should also avoid adding sugar to food or drinks you give your baby. This is because this could encourage a sweet tooth and lead to tooth decay when your baby's first teeth start to come through. If you give your baby stewed sour fruit, such as rhubarb, you could sweeten it with mashed banana, or breast or formula milk. Because honey is a type of sugar, you should still limit the amount you give to your baby once he or she is one year old.