Make nutrition a family affair

PARENTS’ biggest worry, when it comes to their child’s nutrition, is raising a fussy eater.

According to a new survey, 69% of mothers in Ireland, France and Britain said they were worried about raising a fussy eater. 

The research, carried about by MummyPages, also found that 68% of parents do not have time to cook for their family and their baby and 61% are confused about the rules for weaning their baby on to solid foods.

Siobhan Berry, MummyPages’ weaning expert, has recently published The Baby & Family recipe book, aimed at managing these fears and overcoming parents’ time poverty.

The premise of the book is that you cook for the family and adapt it for the baby. As well as having more than 100 recipes, the book includes a portion and texture guide to wean your baby from four months to 12 months. 

There is also information on how to introduce all food groups to your child’s diet, including gluten, meat, fish and dairy.

In order to help with management of time and budgets, the book comes with a seasonal calendar, so you know what to buy and when, and tips on batch cooking and storage of food.

The Baby & Family weaning and recipe guide has already been endorsed by Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital.

“I think it’s wonderful that there are supports out there now such as Siobhan’s book that allow mum to cook for family and adapt for baby. When I was weaning my own children we were encouraged to cook special meals for baby and the branded shop bought products were the most popular solution,” she says.

“They saved us time and removed the fear that baby wouldn’t like our cooking or that it wasn’t perfectly nutritionally balanced. The weaning and recipe guide gives today’s mum the confidence to make her baby and growing family meals at home using fresh produce, I only wish it had been around 20 years ago.”

The book’s author, Siobhan Berry, says introducing your baby to their first foods should be an enjoyable experience, and if this is not the case there are other elements, aside from what is on their plate, to consider.

“If you are worried that your baby doesn’t enjoy mealtimes, there are other questions to consider other than the food that you are offering your baby to taste. Consider the environment you have created — are they sitting comfortably, are they over-stimulated?

“Think about the time of day — are they tired, have they just had a milk feed? Question if your little one feels involved in the process — are you letting them to participate in mealtimes,” she says.

Letting your children participate in mealtimes appears to be key if you want to avoid raising fussy eaters after the weaning years. Making nutrition a family affair can help keep good habits in place.

Darina Allen, founder of Ballymaloe Cookery School, believes that involving children in the cooking process, be that through growing herbs on your kitchen window sill or washing vegetables, stimulates enthusiasm in them to try lots of different foods. 

The cookery school has just launched a partnership with Grow It Yourself (GIY), where a slow food educational project will be delivered at nine schools in Cork, including Shanagarry National School.

Darina Allen says the project provides “children with an exciting hands-on experience of growing their own food”.

“This is an invaluable life skill not currently on the curriculum, which will help to stimulate enthusiasm for delicious and nutritious home-grown food and its health benefits,” says Allen.

Another newly-published recipe book that includes children in the cooking process is My Little Sous-Chef, which is two books in one — one is for the adult in the kitchen, listing ingredients, instructions and photos of recipes for the grown-up to follow, and the second is for the child, laminated and containing simple-to-follow illustrations of safe tasks to help the parent make the recipe in the main book.

The idea is that everyone is involved, with children preparing and touching food from a young age and all in the name of healthy eating. Recipes include bean tacos, vegetarian lasagne, fish balls made from salmon and potatoes and focaccia.

The Baby & Family recipe book is priced at €16.99 and available here, with 10% of all proceeds being donated to the National Maternity Hospital Foundation, Holles Street.

For My Little Sous-Chef see here.


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