Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 12:06 pm
Until six months, our baby’s nutritional requirements are met from the stores they have when they are born, combined with the nutrients in breast milk (or infant formula).
By six months, 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 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 baby’s needs we must ensure good growth and development by offering healthy solid foods.
Babies have a much higher need for energy and vitamins & 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.
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.
Understanding vitamins & minerals
It is important that good sources of iron are introduced into the diet of a six month old baby.
Anaemia (iron deficiency) is a common problem symptomised by :
- Loss of appetite
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)
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron from non-meat sources.
Zinc is also an important inclusion for growth & development but also affects immune function. It can be found in:
- Wholegrain cereals
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.
Vitamin C also affects growth & development and helps the body absorb iron. It can be found in:
- Kiwi fruit
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.
Download & print your Free Printable Nutrients Baby Really Needs and Make SuperFoods SuperFun!
References: Lawson M. Contemporary aspects of infant feeding. Paediatric Nursing 2007 19 39-45 Kramer MS & Kakuma R. The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding: A systematic reveiw. Cochraine Database of Systematic Review 2002