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Nutrition for you and your baby

Welcome to for Baby ... learn all about healthy eating during pregnancy, as well as nutrition and feeding advice for your baby. 

And if you need more personalised advice or just some reassurance that you are doing a great job, our friendly experts are always here to help.

  • Lumps and finger foods: a growing diet

    By eight months your baby is likely to be happy taking solids from a spoon. If you haven’t started already, now’s a good time for introducing soft lumps and more interesting textures to their food. This is essential for babies to learn how to chew and to develop their jaw muscles needed for speech.  Experience with new textures now might make them less likely to reject lumpy foods later on. 

    As they become more familiar with soft lumps and they’re keen to start feeding themselves you can also introduce finger foods. This is a great way of giving them more independence at mealtimes and letting them try even more interesting textures. They still might not have a lot of teeth, but they’ll chew well with their gums!

    At meal times they might enjoy eating their meals with the rest of the family and they’re probably keen to handle their own spoon or even eat with their hands.

    Mashed lumpy food:

    At around 7 months you can begin to offer thicker purees, mashed and soft lumpy textures.  Try for small soft lumps in a thick puree. For example, soft foods should be able to be easily squashed on the roof of your mouth with your tongue.   

    Some examples include:

    • Mashed ripe avocado or banana
    • Cooked and mashed vegetables and fruit
    • Porridge
    • Cottage cheese
    • Cooked and mashed beans and lentils
    • Cooked finely minced meat and chicken
    • Cooked and mashed fish (be careful to remove any bones)

    Finger foods:

    From 7-8 months as baby becomes more familiar with soft lumps and is keen to start self-feeding you can also introduce soft finger foods. This is a great way for them to learn, experiment and be more independent at meal times. It’ll also improve their hand-eye coordination.

    Start with soft textured finger foods, and cut into shapes which are easy for baby to pick up with little hands and bring to their mouth.  It also reduces the risk of choking.

    Good examples to start with include:

    •  Slices of soft, very ripe fruit like banana, avocado or peaches (without skin, pips or seeds)
    •  Very soft well-cooked veggie pieces, like carrots, pumpkin or kumara (peeled)

    Once they get the hang of finger foods, try:

    • Soft cooked pasta pieces
    • Steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets
    • Grated or thinly sliced cheese
    • Grapes cut into quarters
    • Soft toast or bread fingers (thin slices or ‘soldiers’)
    • Slices of soft tofu
    • Egg omelettes cut into sticks
    • Polenta, cooked, cooled and cut into sticks

    Minced and finely chopped foods

    Once your little one is around 8-9 months and eating more soft lumpy textures and finger foods you can introduce minced and finely chopped foods. 

    Some examples are:

    • Finely chopped raw salad vegetables e.g. lettuce, cucumber, tomato
    • Peeled and grated apple, pear or carrot.
    • Cooked then minced, shredded or finely chopped meat, chicken or seafood

    Make sure baby is sitting upright when eating and stick close by, you’ll want to supervise them to make sure they don’t choke on anything.

    To reduce the risk of choking, offer foods that are an appropriate texture for your baby’s stage of development.  For more information on reducing the risks of food-related choking see the Ministry of Health guidance here.

    References:

    Ministry of Health. 2021. Healthy Eating Guidelines for New Zealand Babies and Toddlers (0–2 years old). Wellington: Ministry of Health.

    The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.

     

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  • Plunket: NZ's own support for new parents and babies

    There are loads of benefits to bringing up kids in New Zealand. One of them is the Well Child Programme and the great range of support for new parents you’ll receive through Plunket.

    Founded more than a century ago, Plunket was developed to help kiwi kids get a great start in life and provide support to new parents and families. Fast-forward to today and they’re still at it! A partnership of health professionals and volunteers are there to assist families nationwide. Their services include stationary and mobile clinics, new mothers’ groups, toy libraries, playgroups, and child safety initiatives.

    Plunket

    One of the most important services that Plunket offers is the Well Child Programme. This includes in-home visits and checkups for your baby, plenty of advice and support for new parents, as well as help for the rest of the family adjusting to the needs of a new member. And the really brilliant thing is this service is free for all New Zealanders.

    You can call Plunket any time you need to on 0800 933 922. Their phone line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they’re always happy to help. 

    www.plunket.org.nz

    The Plunket Well Child Programme: what to expect

    There’s something really comforting about having an expert on hand – especially once you arrive home with your new baby and start putting into practice all the things you’ve learnt!

    Here are the times you’ll receive a visit from a Plunket Nurse as part of the Well Child Programme. Don’t forget these visits are free for all New Zealand families, and if you need extra visits beyond the ones listed here, you simply need to contact your Plunket nurse to discuss it and she’ll be able to schedule them for you.

    • A visit between 4 - 6 weeks
    • Between 8 - 10 weeks
    • Around 3 - 4 months
    • 5 - 7 months
    • 9 - 12 months
    • 15 - 18 months
    • 2 - 3 years
    • 4 - 4.5 years you’ll be offered a final B4 School Assessment visit.

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  • Breastfeeding and being a working mum

    If you are considering going back to work and you're still breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean you have to stop. Many mums work full time and successfully breastfeed their babies. It just takes a little forward planning.

    landscape_HowLongToBreastfeed

    At work
    Some work places have private areas where you can express breast milk during the day. You can keep it in the fridge until home time. Just make sure you store your breast milk carefully.  More information about breastfeeding at work can be found here.

    At home
    If you don't feel comfortable expressing at work you can breastfeed your baby at home. You’ll still probably be able to fit in three feeds each day, early morning, after work and before bed.

    Supply and demand
    It's true that the less often you breastfeed, the less milk your body will produce. So be prepared for your breastmilk supply to go down if you start cutting back on feeds. Expressing milk while at work will help maintain your supply.

    Handy locations
    Look for a daycare or crèche near your work. If you can breastfeed your baby during the day it’ll be a great deal for both of you.

    Keep healthy
    Make sure that you eat properly and get plenty of rest. Changing your routine and getting back into the working world can take a lot out of you. The most important things are you and your baby.  

    Talk it over
    Before you start back at work you can talk things over with your well child or Plunket nurse. Get your partner on board too. That way you’ll have a solid plan for when you start back in the working world and plenty of support around you.

    Read More
  • Eat nicely, please: teaching your toddler table manners

    Teaching your toddler good behaviour during meals can take time, and patience. When they drop or throw food on purpose - don't be discouraged. They're still too little to understand what they're doing. 

    Mostly, toddlers want to behave in a way to gain your approval. Learning to feed themselves is is a learning curve.  They won’t be using a fancy dessert fork any time soon, but you can definitely teach them basic manners.

    Good Eating Routines New Image

    Here are a few things that might help:

    • Lead by example - your toddler will want to be like you. Often they'll learn by watching and imitating. If you and the family show good manners to one another then your toddler can see how it’s done.
    • Walk them through it - take time to show your toddler how to wash their hands before a meal, or how to hold a spoon. Remember while it might be second nature to you, it's all new to them.
    • Make meal times fun - if you make meals a positive family experience then your toddler will want to join in. If your toddler feels like they are part of the occasion, they will begin to look forward to the family time together.
    • Good versus naughty - ignoring, or giving little attention to naughty behaviours can teach your toddler that misbehaving doesn't get a response. Similarly, praising good behaviours can reinforce it’s the right thing to do.
    • Keep it simple - if you get too carried away with praise your toddler might think they're the centre of attention at every meal. Relaxed and positive responses work best.

    Remember, your toddler will continue to learn. Good behaviour is moulded over time so it'll take consistency and patience from you .

     

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  • 8 months and beyond: Developmental milestones

    As you know, babies do develop at varying rates. If your baby isn't quite doing these things yet they will be soon enough! Here are some of the things you can expect from eight months onwards:

    Trulli

    Development

    Your baby’s personality will be showing more, and their fine motor skills will be progressing. You can expect them to have better hand and eye co-ordination around this age, play actively and understand things like how their toys relate to one another. They might be able to clap, and start to grasp things fairly well and may be interested in feeding themselves!

    Growth

    They’re getting bigger every day. Don’t be surprised to see your baby gain something like 70-90g per week. During the first year of life, they'll grow quickly.  Their appetite might fluctuate, which is normal, but your baby should never go too long without food. From time to time there will be 'growth spurts' and you might notice a change in the amount they eat around then.  Just be guided by your little one’s hunger and fullness signs.

    Appetite

    It’s good idea to get into some routine with food.  In the early days it's better to give milk feeds when they're hungry rather than sticking to a strict time, but the ultimate goal is to get baby to feed at regular times during the day. At 8-9 months of age you can start to offer solid foods before the milk feed. At this stage baby might be having 2-3 solid meals a day and 1-2 snacks depending on appetite.

    Changing tastes and textures

    Once your baby is happy taking solids from a spoon you should progress them onto lumpier food. This is essential for babies to learn how to chew and develop their jaw muscles. By 8 months of age you can include soft finger foods.  This is a great way of giving them more independence at mealtimes and letting them try even more interesting textures. They still might not have a lot of teeth, but they’ll chew well with their gums!

    Bathing

    There are a lot of fun times to be had here! They may want to play a few games and have a good splash. The thing to remember is never leave them alone in the bath, if the phone rings or there’s someone at the door – let them wait. Your baby’s safety is much more important than rushing to answer it.

    Crawling

    Before they can walk, your baby will learn to crawl.  This will be there way of getting around for a while.  At eight months, your baby might be learning to crawl or already crawling - you can expect them to start any time between six and twelve months.

    Some babies will learn quickly, but don’t be surprised if it takes them a couple of months to get the hang of it.  They might start by doing little push-ups as they lie on their tummy in order to get on their knees. You'll no doubt see a few weird movements and methods of getting around (bottom scooting, rolling - you name it!) but eventually they’ll push up on to their knees and start to move around on all fours.  Remember this process to being an unstoppable crawler can take a couple of months and there’ll be some golden moments, so have that camera on hand!

    Once they’re mobile it’s time to be extra careful - they can get about on their own and they’re curious! If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to baby proof your home.  Ensure any chemicals and equipment are kept in locked cupboards, or well out of reach. Watch out for low hanging cords, or table cloths that your baby could pull on to. If there’s a particular room to be wary of it’s the kitchen!

    Pulling up to stand

    At this stage their balance won’t be great and their legs are too little to support them, but your baby might happily stand with your help or nearby furniture at around seven to ten months.

    You might start to see your little one pull themselves up to a standing position, by using furniture to support them. They might even cruise from one piece of furniture to another – that means they’re on their way to those first baby steps!  It can take a bit longer to get the hang of walking by themselves, and most toddlers are walking by around 18 months of age.

    The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.

     

    Read More
  • Sitting up

    You can prop your baby up in a sitting position from early on, but they won’t be able to sit by themselves until they have head control.

    Sitting up

    At about four months, your baby's neck and head muscles will be stronger and they'll be able to hold their head up when they're lying on their tummy. Next comes a little mini push up, and then by about five months they'll be able to sit up by themselves for a moment without your help. Around seven months is when you can expect them to sit up unsupported.

    Read More
  • Plunket: NZ's own support for new parents and babies

    There are loads of benefits to bringing up kids in New Zealand. One of them is the Well Child Programme and the great range of support for new parents you’ll receive through Plunket.

    Founded more than a century ago, Plunket was developed to help kiwi kids get a great start in life and provide support to new parents and families. Fast-forward to today and they’re still at it! A partnership of health professionals and volunteers are there to assist families nationwide. Their services include stationary and mobile clinics, new mothers’ groups, toy libraries, playgroups, and child safety initiatives.

    Plunket

    One of the most important services that Plunket offers is the Well Child Programme. This includes in-home visits and checkups for your baby, plenty of advice and support for new parents, as well as help for the rest of the family adjusting to the needs of a new member. And the really brilliant thing is this service is free for all New Zealanders.

    You can call Plunket any time you need to on 0800 933 922. Their phone line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they’re always happy to help. 

    www.plunket.org.nz

    The Plunket Well Child Programme: what to expect

    There’s something really comforting about having an expert on hand – especially once you arrive home with your new baby and start putting into practice all the things you’ve learnt!

    Here are the times you’ll receive a visit from a Plunket Nurse as part of the Well Child Programme. Don’t forget these visits are free for all New Zealand families, and if you need extra visits beyond the ones listed here, you simply need to contact your Plunket nurse to discuss it and she’ll be able to schedule them for you.

    • A visit between 4 - 6 weeks
    • Between 8 - 10 weeks
    • Around 3 - 4 months
    • 5 - 7 months
    • 9 - 12 months
    • 15 - 18 months
    • 2 - 3 years
    • 4 - 4.5 years you’ll be offered a final B4 School Assessment visit.

    Read More
  • Breastfeeding and being a working mum

    If you are considering going back to work and you're still breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean you have to stop. Many mums work full time and successfully breastfeed their babies. It just takes a little forward planning.

    landscape_HowLongToBreastfeed

    At work
    Some work places have private areas where you can express breast milk during the day. You can keep it in the fridge until home time. Just make sure you store your breast milk carefully.  More information about breastfeeding at work can be found here.

    At home
    If you don't feel comfortable expressing at work you can breastfeed your baby at home. You’ll still probably be able to fit in three feeds each day, early morning, after work and before bed.

    Supply and demand
    It's true that the less often you breastfeed, the less milk your body will produce. So be prepared for your breastmilk supply to go down if you start cutting back on feeds. Expressing milk while at work will help maintain your supply.

    Handy locations
    Look for a daycare or crèche near your work. If you can breastfeed your baby during the day it’ll be a great deal for both of you.

    Keep healthy
    Make sure that you eat properly and get plenty of rest. Changing your routine and getting back into the working world can take a lot out of you. The most important things are you and your baby.  

    Talk it over
    Before you start back at work you can talk things over with your well child or Plunket nurse. Get your partner on board too. That way you’ll have a solid plan for when you start back in the working world and plenty of support around you.

    Read More
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