Babies can only eat small, frequent meals. It is important that they receive essential nutrients at each feeding. For example small amounts of fat are important to provide energy and help absorb nutrients. What are the most important nutrients for babies?
Essential for healthy growth, protein should be included in two meals for babies aged six months onwards.
- Well-cooked eggs
- Well-cooked chicken or turkey
- Well-cooked oil-rich fish, e.g. salmon or mackerel
- Well-cooked beef, lamb or pork
- White fish Pulses, e.g. peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas
Iron is vital for healthy blood, normal growth and development. Iron is also important for baby’s brain development between six months and two years of age. Your baby is born with iron stores, but by the age of four to six months, these stores begin to run out and they need a source of iron from their diet.
- Well-cooked beef or lamb
- Well-cooked dark chicken meat, e.g. chicken thigh or bone
- Well-cooked oil-rich fish, e.g. salmon
Important for healthy bones and may prevent some illnesses and infections. Babies can be given a vitamin D supplement providing 5 micrograms (mg) or 200 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily until they are at least one year old. Vitamin D is also found in oil-rich fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna) and eggs.
Essential fatty acids
These include omega 3 and omega 6. Babies need a source of these fatty acids in their diet. They are naturally found in breast milk and are added to infant formula milk. The main food source of these fatty acids is oil-rich fish in particular salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, kippers and herring. Vegetarian sources include rapeseed (canola) oil, flaxseeds, linseeds, walnuts, or their oils.
- Pasteurised milk and dairy products
- Mashed avocado
- Well-cooked eggs
- Low-salt spreads and butter are a good way to add energy to your baby’s diet
Foods to avoid
✘ Unpasteurised or mould ripened cheese: although these can be eaten if well cooked, cheeses should be pasteurised.
✘ Salt: do not add salt to any foods. Choose low-salt versions of stock cubes, soups and sauces.
✘ Added sugar: avoid adding sugar and using foods or drinks with added sugar.
✘ Honey: avoid honey until your baby is one year old.
✘ Whole nuts: do not give whole nuts to your baby until they are at least five years old due to the risk of choking. Smooth nut spreads are safe.
✘ Uncooked or lightly cooked eggs: Make sure that eggs are cooked through until both the white and the yolk are solid.
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