So much development in the first year, so little time! All babies need plenty of nutrients to promote healthy growth in the first 1,000 days. Breast or formula milk is still the most important source of nutrition until one year, but from six months you can start introducing other nutritious foods to support their development.
Whilst calcium is needed for growing bones, as is vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for multiple processes in your body, but especially bone growth for babies and their immune system. While formula milk is supplemented with vitamin D, if you breastfeed or mixed feed, it is recommended that you supplement with vitamin D.
Babies are born with a store of iron they have built up in-utero. Around six months, these stores slowly start to dwindle, so it is a good idea to include sources of iron rich food early on in the weaning journey. Good sources of iron include meat, poultry, and eggs as well as vegetarian sources such as beans, iron fortified cereals, whole grains, spinach, broccoli, apricots, and prunes. Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron from plant based sources, so include some fruit or vegetables with these foods to help absorption.
Omega 3 fatty acids
DHA and EPA, are types of omega 3 essential fatty acids are essential in that we need them but cannot make them. Therefore, we need to actively make sure that we and our baby get them from diet or supplementation. You can start introducing oily fish such as salmon, trout or mackerel around 6 months of age. You can also try omega 3 eggs, or vegetarian sources of ALA such as walnuts or flaxseeds, but these need to be ground for babies to avoid a choking hazard.
Protein packs a punch in terms of your baby’s growth and development. Protein not only builds, but also maintains and repairs your body’s tissues – they are the building blocks. Some of these amino acids are “essential”, meaning the body can’t make them. Luckily, there’s just the right amount of protein in breast milk and formula. And when you move onto solid foods, from six months, babies can try a little bit of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. As well as ground nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, as well as some fruits and vegetables.
Zinc is a little less known, but just as important as it is required for making proteins and DNA as well as maintaining the immune system. Formula is fortified with zinc, but it can also be easily acquired in protein rich foods such as meats, as well as leafy greens such as spinach.