Healthy Eating

Feeding babies 0-6 months

Breastfeeding is recognised internationally as the best way to provide babies with complete nutrition until they are about six months old as well as supporting good emotional development. Research has confirmed that breastfeeding has many protective factors such as reducing infections in the ear, chest, gastro-intestinal and urinary tracts. Breastfed babies are less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and there are long lasting benefits including protective effects against obesity, developing diabetes or allergies and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life.  For information on Breastfeeding in Bristol:

Bottle Feeding is the alternative to breast milk during the first six months is infant formula and parents may choose this for many different reasons or a combination of breast and formula feeding. An important health consideration for formula fed babies is ensuring that all feeding equipment is sterilised and formula is prepared properly by following manufacturer’s guidelines. Hot water should be used to make up feeds for babies less than one year. This should be boiled and cooled (for approximately 20 minutes) to 70°C then used immediately to make up feeds. This reduces the chance of a baby acquiring an infection from a bacteria commonly found on the surface of opened milk powder containers.   Inadequate hygiene and incorrectly reconstituted formula can lead to serious illness and hospitalisation of young babies.  Further information on bottle feeding is available:

Whether babies are breast or bottle fed feeding should be responsive. This means looking for feeding cues such as restlessness or fist sucking and avoiding waiting until a baby cries.   Whilst babies are feeding maintaining eye contact and holding the baby close helps them to feel safe and promotes a secure attachment to develop.

Feeding babies 6 -12 months

Weaning the latest research shows that babies don’t need anything but breastmilk or infant formula for the first six months of life. Weaning should take place around 6 months when breast milk no longer meets baby’s requirements. The signs a baby is ready for solid foods are:

  • They can sit up either independently or in a supported seat
  • Wants to chew and is practicing with toys
  • Can reach out and grab things

Feeding Babies 6-12 months and Feeding babies Weaning Training Pack

Feeding children 1-4 years

Children aged 1-4 years are growing quickly and have high energy and nutrient requirements for their size, they also need to eat smaller amounts than older children and adults, so it is important that their meals and snacks contain all the nutrients they need. The mealtime experiences as well as the learning opportunities for children, such as where food comes from, growing food and cookery activities all support children to eat well.

Feeding Children 1-4 years – a guide to achieving a healthy balanced diet for children 1-4 years and includes ideas for meal suggestion

Food Portion Book 1-4 years – the book illustrates average portion sizes a range of foods from the different food groups for children 1-4 years

Mix Up and Munch 1-4 years – a guide for putting together healthy packed lunches and teas for children 1-4 years

Healthy Eating at Work

Most of us consume at least a third of our daily calorie intake at work. What we eat and drink affects not just our health but our work performance, too.  People who don’t eat regular, well-balanced meals or drink enough water, may:

  • get headaches
  • feel sluggish
  • have difficulty concentrating

Having a balanced diet can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce preventable diseases, for example:

  • cardiovascular disease, which means any condition that affects the heart or blood vessels
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • osteoporosis
  • dental disease, for example gum disease, tooth decay, or pain

The Eatwell Guide is a national model which shows the proportions in which different types of food are needed to achieve a health balanced diet. The proportions are representative of food consumption over the period of a day, not what you should be aiming for in every meal. 

Further resources and information

Updated Guidance on portion sizes for pre-schoolers

Lactation Consultants of Great Britain information and handout on breastfeeding and maternal mental health

Infant Feeding competencies

Start 4 Life gives information to parents and practitioners about feeding babies

NHS Choices

Healthy Start  is a government scheme to improve the health of low-income pregnant women and families on benefits and tax credits through provision of vouchers and vitamin tablets and drops.

Eat Better, Start Better guidance and supporting material has been developed to help early years providers and practitioners to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) welfare requirement for the provision of healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink

Caroline Walker Trust Eating Well in Early Years

First Steps Nutrition – provides nutrition information and resources to support families, pregnant women and parents of children under 5.