Started Weaning? Annabel Karmel On The Critical Nutrients Every Baby Needs
Be sure to incorporate these key nutrients into your baby's diet, parents.
Eventually, bub will start running out of the important nutrients they’ve gotten from mum – this is how to re-introduce them into their diet.
At six months your baby is about to go through an amazing growth spurt. In their first year, babies triple their birth weight and to grow that much, they need a lot of nutrients – more than at any other time in their life.
Firstly, the main and most simple way of approaching your baby’s first foods is to try and offer your baby as much variety as possible from the get-go. This way you will be on the right track to getting lots of different (and essential) nutrients into their diet to help fuel their development.
Another factor to consider at mealtimes is that your baby has a tiny tummy, which fills up very quickly. This means that every mouthful or spoonful they have needs to contain the maximum amount of nutrition (with minimum amount of bulk). Each meal should contain protein, carbohydrates and fat. You also need to make sure that their diet includes all-important iron, essential fatty acids, zinc, Vitamin D, C, E, iodine and calcium.
Critical nutrients, such as iron and essential fatty acids are those that your baby absolutely needs for their mental and physical development and essential nutrients, such as your proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals are those additional building blocks to help your baby thrive.
Focusing on those critical nutrients, iron and essential fatty acids top the charts in terms of importance.
Iron is so important for your baby’s brain development. It is needed for making haemoglobin, or red blood cells, and is the micronutrient that enables the blood to carry oxygen around the body to your baby’s organs and muscles, so as you can see is vital for your baby!
Full-term babies are born with a reserve of iron, and until six months, your baby will have been busy using the store of iron they have inherited from mum. But it will be running out by this point which is why from around six months is the ideal time to start introducing iron-rich foods into your baby’s diet.
Your baby will absorb iron from meat more easily than iron from any other food source, and lean beef is packed with it. As well as beef you can offer lamb or poultry such as chicken and turkey, although use the darker meat such as the thigh or leg meat as those nice brown bits are slightly higher in iron. As a guideline, you should be aiming to offer your baby iron-rich foods twice a day. Why not cook-up a batch of my Mini Star Burgers – they are the perfect iron-rich finger food. Plus they have added grated carrot and apple too for an extra nutrition hit.
If you follow a vegetarian diet, then don’t worry as there are plenty of non-meat sources that contain iron such as pulses and beans (lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas for example), tofu, green leafy veggies, fortified cereals, smooth nut butters and wholegrain pasta and bread. However, with non-meat sources, the absorption of this form of iron is lower, so the amount required is slightly higher and combining these foods with a vitamin C-rich food will help the absorption of iron. Try a steamed floret of broccoli or a few strawberries cut up alongside their meal.
Also known as omega 3 or DHA – essential fatty acids are your polyunsaturated fats and named ‘essential’ because babies need these for the development of the retina in the eye as well as brain growth and development.
Studies also suggest that getting enough of these essential fatty acids impacts on intelligence, social skills and behaviour. So you can see why it’s at the top of our nutrient hit list!
And because it is such an important nutrient in your baby’s diet, it’s now added to infant formula milks. It does also pass through breast milk so make sure those omega 3-rich foods are on mum’s menu too!
Essential fatty acids can be found in abundance in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, and ideally you should include a serving of oily fish in your baby’s diet twice a week but no more due to pollutants found in oily fish which may build up in the body. My tasty sweet potato, salmon & spinach puree is a good place to start and don’t forget to try my salmon & butternut squash balls too!
Flaxseeds, chia, soya beans and nuts, either ground or as smooth nut butters contain a different kind of omega-3 called ALA which the body has to convert into DHA for it to be of use. Whilst they provide a little helping hand on the omega-3 front, they are not as beneficial as oily fish.
For more recipe inspiration look no further than Annabel’s No.1 ranking Baby & Toddler Recipe App – with over 350 delicious recipes, planners, shopping lists and more, it’s a go-to guide for your baby, toddler…and the grown-ups too! Available via the app store or visit www.annabelkarmel.com/au/ for more information.
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