From birth to around 6 months of age when you start weaning your baby, they will be getting all of the nutrients they need from either breastmilk or formula milk. The one exception to this is vitamin D – it is recommended that all babies from birth to 12 months are given a daily vitamin D supplement. Once baby begins weaning, there are a few key nutrients to keep in mind to make sure that they are getting in their new diet.
Vitamin D is very important for healthy bones as it helps the body to absorb calcium. The Department of Health, recommends that all babies, from birth to 12 months, whether breastfed or formula fed, be given a daily supplement of 5 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D3. Once your baby has started weaning you can also begin to include vitamin D rich foods in their diet to help boost their intake. However, there are only a few natural sources of vitamin D – these include eggs (suitable from 6 months) and oily fish such as salmon or trout.
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Omega 3 & 6 fats
Omega 3 and 6 are essential fatty acids which come from the the family of good fats known as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs). Omega 3 and 6 are important for your growing baby as it supports brain, eye and nervous system development. Breastmilk provides omega 3 that is easily absorbed. It is naturally very rich in omega 3 but it is important that if you are breastfeeding you include omega 3 and 6 rich foods in your diet e.g. oily fish (salmon, mackerel and herring) or fortified juices, eggs and cereals. International scientific experts recommend that if babies are not being breastfed that formulas must contain omega fats or LCP in recommended levels.
Try and include oily fish in your baby’s diet at least once a week
Once your baby is settled on solids you can begin to gradually introduce meat and fish into their diets. Oily fish (salmon, mackerel and herring) are a great source of nutrients particularly omega 3. Try to include oily fish in your baby’s diet at least once a week. If you have trouble getting your little one fish, look out for foods fortified with omega 3. Some brand of milk, yogurts, orange juice, spreads and eggs are now enriched with this essential nutrient.
Your newborn baby will have received a rich supply of iron in their blood from their time with you in the womb. However, once they reach the age of 6 months, this store will start to reduce and at this stage it is important that iron rich foods are included in the diet. Iron rich foods include red meat, chicken, eggs or leafy green vegetables. For more information on the importance of iron at 6 months, check out our article about Iron.