Give your child the very best start in life with these top superfoods for strong bones, brain development, and a healthy immune system.
This post is all about the important vitamins and minerals your baby needs and superfoods you can start incorporating into your child’s diet right now. For the first six months of your baby’s life, their nutritional requirements are met from the stores they have when they are born, combined with the nutrients in breast milk (or infant formula). However, by six months, you’ll need to start choosing nutrient-rich foods to keep their bodies strong and healthy.
Your baby’s growth and development
Your baby should have doubled their birth weight and by the time they celebrate their first birthday, they should have tripled their weight. This is all good and well but for your baby to achieve this we need to ensure their diet is energy and nutrient-rich. Even though milk is still a vital part of their diet, to meet your baby’s needs we must ensure good growth and development by offering healthy solid foods.
Your tot’s energy requirements
Did you know that babies have a much higher need for energy and vitamins and minerals than adults? Babies’ stomachs are 10 times smaller than adults but they need three times more energy, this means offering little but often. It is important therefore to provide a diet that is super-efficient, meaning, high in fat but low in fibre.
The importance of vitamins and minerals
To ensure a balanced diet during weaning, a variety of foods should be offered and to do this we need to know which foods offer the best source of vitamins and minerals.
A is for Vitamin A
Vitamin A affects growth & development, skin, eyes, and the immune system. It can be found in:
- Whole milk
- Oily fish
Carrots and other orange-coloured fruits and vegetables, as well as dark green leafy vegetables, contain carotene that converts to vitamin A.
C is for Vitamin C
Vitamin C also affects growth & development and helps the body absorb iron. It can be found in:
- Kiwi fruit
D is for Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption to promote the formation of bone, lack of it causes rickets and poor bone growth. It can be found in:
- Oily fish
- Fortified breakfast cereals
It can also be manufactured by sunlight on skin but this alone will not be sufficient to meet the needs of a growing baby and exposing babies to too much sun is not recommended.
I is for Iron
It is important that good sources of iron are introduced into your child’s diet to prevent anaemia (iron deficiency). Iron is most easily absorbed from red meat but it can also be found in:
- Dried fruit
- Iron-fortified infant cereals
- Green leafy vegetables (baby spinach)
Good to know: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron from non-meat sources.
Z is for Zinc
Zinc is also an important inclusion for growth & development but also affects immune function. It can be found in:
- Wholegrain cereals