Important Nutrients for Babies
Feed your baby a healthy liberal diet – ideally resembling an organic wholefood’s diet. Ensure your baby is getting fibre and probiotics for healthy digestion and immune function, and think about foods that are going promote a taste for healthy food (this will save you ALOT of grief later). LOVE and a HEALTHY CLEAN diet is the best gift you can give your child.
- Veggies, veggies, veggies (green vegetables & energy starches such as sweet potato are best)
- Good quality protein
- Good quality fats
- Good quality carbohydrates – This includes fresh fruit and whole-grains.
What NOT to give
- Too many white Starches (rice, pasta, rice cereals) – these are high GI foods with little nutritional benefit
- Processed foods – BIG no no
- Sugar – sweets, lollies, added sugar
A large number of studies on probiotics have found that giving probiotics from birth to 6 months, particularly if born by caesarean, can help to protect against food allergies, and atopic conditions such as asthma and eczema. Antibiotic use in mother and baby can also affect babies gut micro-flora.
A recent study released the Journal of Pediatrics found the specific probiotics can improve colic in babies. Colic affects 40% of babies. If anyone has experienced a baby with colic – that is one hell of a relief!
Probiotic food sources: Natural yoghurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s), particularly Omega-3 fatty acids, play an incredibly important role in your baby’s brain. EFA’s are essential for brain development and function, in particular DHA. There have been some positive associations between DHA and improved visual, cognitive and motor function of children.
In a 2011 study, over 50% of Australian children were deficient in EFA’s, crucial for brain development.
Omega-3’s also help to reduce inflammation, so can help with inflammatory conditions such as eczema, asthma and hay fever
Deficiency can result in poor cognitive function, focus and concentration, fatigue, skin disorders.
Omega-3 Food Sources: salmon, sardines, chia seeds, flaxseed oil
Iron is essential for a baby’s development. Deficiency can result in delays in mental and psycho-development (which may not be reversible if under 2yrs), pale skin, physical growth deficiency, tiredness, irritability, lack of concentration, withdrawn behavior, poor appetite, decrease in muscle strength and a lowered immune system.
Babies have about 6 months worth of iron stores from pregnancy. Less if born prematurely, potentially more if born post-term. From approximately 6 months, Infants need approximately 20mg per day.
Iron rich foods best introduced from about 6 months are:
Haem – red meat, chicken, fish, broths and stews. Absorption rate: 25%
Non-Haem – Spinach, legumes, asparagus, egg.
Consume with foods rich in vitamin C to increase absorption (fruit and vegetables). Absorption rate: 10-17%
Calcium is an essential nutrient for bone growth, and babies have big requirements. It is vital for muscle function and strong bones.
Adequate levels of vitamin D are also important for calcium absorption and calcification of bone.
Calcium can be obtained from many dietary sources and not just dairy products. If you give your baby dairy products, ensure they are full fat and organic.
Calcium food sources: Natural yoghurt (full fat), Sardines and Canned Salmon (with bones), collard greens, turnip greens, kale, broccoli, kale, watercress, sesame seeds, tahini (unhulled), almonds, and figs
Magnesium is the ‘relaxing’ mineral. Its important or growing children as it helps to build strong bones and helps to balance blood sugar levels.
Deficiency in magnesium can result in irritability, restlessness, poor sleep and muscle cramps.
Magnesium food sources: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, spinach, sesame, almonds, cashews, raw cacao, sea vegetables. (nuts & seeds ground to avoid choking hazard + easier for immature digestive systems to digest)
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, helpful in increasing iron absorption, and immune system function. Vitamin C is also involved in the formation of collagen, so has the potential to increase wound-healing capacity.
Vitamin C food sources: Papaya, red capsicum, oranges, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, pineapple, and kiwifruit
Zinc is an important mineral and is vital for brain function. It plays a crucial role in the growth and development of nervous tissue. It also modulates feel good neurotransmitters that reduce the anxiety and irritability in children. Zinc is involved in immune system function and GIT and may impact growth positively.
Deficiency can result in increased risk of food allergies, growth impairment, weight loss, loss of appetite, eczema severity and chronic infections (such as sinus infections)
Zinc rich foods best introduced from about 6 months are:
Animal foods – beef, lamb, chicken, nuts and seeds (particularly pumpkin seeds) – (nuts & seeds ground to avoid choking hazard + easier for immature digestive systems to digest