5 ways to supercharge meal times

We all want the best for our (not so little) bundles of joy so naturally we aim for a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet when it comes to weaning - which may sound easier than it actually is! If you aren't blessed with a 'good' eater, don't fear, there are stacks of ways to supercharge mealtimes with extra nutrients and far less fuss to ensure your little ones are getting exactly what they need.

A balanced diet is key; aim for lots of fruit and veg - 5 a day. Frozen fruit and veg can be a handy hack for busy parents and luckily they are just as nutritious. Grab a handful of frozen raspberries and add them to your overnight oats or zap some frozen peas in the microwave in as little as 60 seconds to serve alongside your baby's main meal. Babies also need plenty of protein, calcium and healthy carbs to see them through the day. Try opting for sweet potato, quinoa and wholegrain pasta, rice and bread.

It might seem there's lots to think about so we've highlighted 5 handy hacks to add even more goodness and far less stress into your baby's diet, without them even noticing!

1. Hidden veggies  

There are so many ways to hide veggies in our baby's meals and we're certain even the fussiest of eater won't find them! Blend cauliflower into a cheese sauce, hide mashed up broccoli under cheese on pizza or add a handful of spinach or kale into a smoothie. It is surprising how easy it is to hide grated carrot too! Finger foods like egg muffins, pancakes or patties are also a great way to add in a little extra fruit, veg, milled seeds or chopped nuts.

2. Superfood for heroes 

Boost your nutritional value with a few key cupboard essentials such as chia seeds. They are packed full of omega 3 and you can even swap out egg for a chia egg, simply soak one tablespoon of seeds with 2.5 tablespoons of warm water for 5 mins - great for a little health kick as well as those with allergies or dietary preferences.

Ever heard of nutritional yeast? Neither had we before we started weaning, but now it's a store cupboard must-have! It's packed full of vitamins and minerals, B12 in particular especially great for vegan or vegetarian families. The taste isn't offensive - quite cheesy - so it's perfect stirred through pasta sauces for example. Avocado, blueberries and kale are all superfoods too and are easily accepted by even the fussiest of toddlers.



3. Independent feeding

Most babies and toddlers will go through a phase of wanting to feed themselves independently, sometimes sitting back (embracing the mess!) can be the best way forward. Let baby experiment with using their own cutlery or offer finger foods that little hands can pick up easily and feed themselves. A suction bowl or plate will come in handy here too! Also clue up on the signs that show baby is full - they may avoid looking at food, clamp their mouth shut or begin to throw food or show interest in other objects. If they're full try not to pressure them into 'just one more mouthful'.

4. Try something new

Although it goes against our instinct, telling baby they won't get dessert if they don't eat their dinner can sometimes instil undesirable eating habits as this makes dessert seem more favourable than their main meal and could encourage a real sweet tooth. Try offering all food on one plate, mixing sweet and savoury together. Pop a handful of chopped up strawberries and yoghurt alongside their main meal and let baby take the lead. A plate with separate compartments would work well for this method to avoid a yucky flavour combination.

5. Always keep calm and carry on 

All babies and toddlers will have off days, trust them to eat if they are hungry and try not to force them into eating, simply try again next meal time. Also make sure you offer foods more than once, often it takes several attempts for baby to accept a new food and it doesn't mean they don't like it. Aim to keep meal times fun and relaxed - no huffing and puffing even if you begin to feel frustrated with the amount of food actually being consumed. Also, try to eat at the same time as baby, acting as a good role model, lots of yummy sounds work wonders here.

Your little one will love to copy you so this is a great technique to try!

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