Written by our Registered Nutritionist and mum-of-two; Rhiannon Lambert
As with everything in the world of nutrition, there are always those that believe we should or shouldn't be eating something. When looking at our children’s diets there are many myths and ideals that can make weaning and feeding your little ones seem like an overwhelming challenge, but this doesn’t need to be the case.
Here are some common misconceptions and the truth behind them!
Myth: Babies and young children don’t need to take a vitamin supplement
Fact: Government advice is that children aged 6 months to 5 years old should take a daily vitamin supplement of vitamin A, C, and D.
For vitamin D, according to the Department of Health and Social care:
- Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given 8.5 to 10µg of vitamin D. This is irrespective of whether or not you're taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
- Babies should not be given a vitamin D supplement if they are being fed more than 500ml of infant formula milk a day.
- Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D.
There are so many high quality vitamin drops or gummies out there to choose from, and don’t forget it’s always best to check with your GP before taking any supplements to make sure you get the correct dose that’s right for your child’s body.
Myth: It’s not possible to meet nutritional needs if raising your children on a vegan diet
Fact: The short answer is that it is possible, but it needs to be well-planned and carefully thought through! If you’re looking to give your child a vegan, plant-based, or vegetarian diet, parents need to ensure their little ones are getting enough calories, healthy fats, and protein, as well as important vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin D, iodine, vitamin B12, choline, omega-3, and calcium to help support their healthy development.
Supplementation and including more fortified foods may be needed here to make sure that children do meet their daily nutritional requirements, to keep them happy and healthy at this stage of rapid growth, development, and exploration.
Myth: You shouldn’t give your little ones peanuts
Fact: It used to be thought that not giving your baby nuts increased the risk of developing a nut allergy. However, research from the LEAP study has shown that exposing your baby to peanuts at an earlier age (especially before the age of 11 months old) may actually help prevent an allergy later in life.
Just remember that whole nuts shouldn’t be eaten by babies and children under 5 years old, as this is a choking hazard, so it’s best to introduce these in nut butter or ground nut forms.
Myth: Babies only like sweet foods
Fact: Babies do have an innate preference for sweeter foods, however, it’s suggested that between the ages of 6 and 12 months this is when they are most likely to accept new foods. This means that offering those more savoury and bitter tastes early on in their weaning journey can help children to accept (and enjoy) eating these foods. This is an ideal window to introduce a variety of flavours, which can help reduce fussy eaters as they get older too. Anecdotally I weaned both of my children following a vegetable led approach and I have found they both are pretty strong vegetable eaters.
Myth: Children need to have low-fat dairy options
Fact: It’s actually the opposite! Up until the age of 2 years old, babies and young children should be eating full-fat foods, such as milk, cheese, and yoghurts. This is because they need the energy from the fat for growth, and to keep up with the demands of physical activity from play and exploration.