Kids

Expert advice: Nutrient-dense diets for infants

A baby’s stomach is 10 times smaller than an adult’s, but they need three times more energy, this means offering little but often.

Although they may be little, babies have a much bigger need for energy and vitamins and minerals than adults. Until the age of six months, your baby’s nutritional needs are fulfilled by the stores he or she has at birth, along with the nutrients in breast milk (or infant formula).

Baby should have doubled their birth weight by six months and quadrupled their weight by the time they celebrate their first birthday. This is all well and good, but for your baby to do this, you need to ensure that their diet is high in energy and nutrients.

In addition to milk (which is still an important part of your baby’s diet and will be for a long time to come), here are some great first food to try:

Wild Salmon

Because of its high vitamin content, wild salmon is one of the healthiest foods to feed a baby. It’s packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D, Bs, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, and iron, which are all great for your baby’s heart health, cancer prevention, brain health and cognitive function, bone and joint protection, and healthy skin and eyes.

Top tip: Prepare baked salmon and gently mash a portion with a fork. Set it on a baby food tray for your baby to self-feed using their fingers.

Avocado

Avocados are high in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin C, B6, B12, A, D, K E, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, and niacin. They are also high in good fats and fibre your baby needs.

Top tip: Cut avocado in slices (lengthways) and let your baby hold it in their hand and nipple on the slice, or mash and spoon feed your baby.

Egg Yolk

Eggs are high in protein and rich in vitamins A, B-complex vitamins, D, E, and K, as well as phosphorus, selenium, calcium, and zinc. Eggs also include a variety of important chemical substances, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and protein. Top tip: Because of the increased fat content, some parents may prefer to feed the more caloric and nutrient-dense component of the egg, the yolk, to their baby.

Sautéed Spinach

The inclusion of minerals, vitamins, pigments, and phytonutrients in spinach, such as folate, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium, contributes to its numerous health advantages. Spinach contains a lot of insoluble fibre, which can help with digestion. Spinach is also well-known for its eye and heart health benefits, as well as its anti-cancer and anti-oxidant characteristics.

Blueberries

Blueberries include a high concentration of phytonutrients and antioxidants. They have been shown to protect neurons in the brain and even aid in the repair of brain and tissue damage. Their capacity to strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, regulate diabetes, and promote heart health are among their other health benefits. Blueberries are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Top tip: Whole blueberries can be a choking danger for babies, so rather mash them up or cut them into tiny pieces before serving them to your baby.

Banana

Believe it or not, the tried-and-true kid favourite, the banana, is actually high in nutrients! One banana contains 110 calories and 30 grams of carbs in one serving (126 grams). They are high in potassium and dietary fibre, as well as vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, folate, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and copper.

Top tip: Serve banana whole, sliced or mashed. 

Broccoli 

Broccoli is high in dietary fibre and contains vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium, selenium, chromium, choline, manganese, and phosphorus.

Top tip: Steam broccoli until soft. If you’re going to offer florets whole, go for the larger ones (smaller florets can be a choking hazard if the baby places the whole floret in their mouth). 

Sweet potatoes

Because of their high magnesium content and starchy structure, sweet potatoes are fantastic for digestion and relatively quickly absorbed. They are known to aid in weight gain (which is especially important for babies), to be anti-inflammatory, to ease symptoms of asthma and bronchitis, and to have anti-cancer qualities.

Top tip: Bake sweet potatoes and serve them fork-mashed with butter or coconut oil. 

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