Baby nutrition

Baby health and baby nutrition

 

Our little people grow at a rapid rate, particularly in the first two years of life. They triple in weight in the first year and are approximately half the height they will be as an adult by age two. They are also learning at an incredible rate and their brains are exploding as they take in the world around them. With all this going on, it’s no wonder they have special and specific dietary needs.

*If you are ever concerned about your baby’s weight or consumption of fluids and/or food, visit your GP or pediatrician.

0-6 months  

Between birth and six months, a baby only needs milk (either breastmilk or formula). We are big advocates for breastfeeding as it is fit for purpose and is incredibly nutritious for babies. But we understand that there are many reasons why parents may choose not to breastfeed or are unable, and there are some great formula products for those parents.  

Breastmilk is amazing as it contains everything a baby needs, including the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals (except for Vitamin D), in a highly bioavailable format. What that means is that the nutrients in breastmilk are easily absorbed by the baby’s body. Breastmilk also contains pre and pro biotics, antibodies and can even help lull a baby to sleep at night. It truly is amazing stuff.

The World Health Organization recommends that children are breastfed until two years of age. We say, do it for as long as it suits you and your family. Every little bit counts but don’t put pressure on yourself if you need to stop before you had planned to.    

For more information about breastfeeding and/or for support, visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association

6-12 months

Around six months of age, babies show an interest in solid foods – they may start reaching for your plate or watching you when you eat. However, before you start solids, make sure your baby has good head and neck control, and can sit upright when supported.

Your baby may not eat much in the first couple of weeks, and even months – they are initially just experimenting with flavours and textures. However, it’s important to regularly offer your baby food and enjoy the experience of discovery together.

Over time your baby will start eating more and more. And by 12 months, many babies are having three meals a day, plus snacks. 

You can find out more about introducing solids here.  

12 months +

By the time your baby turns one, they are probably getting most of their calories from food. They should also be confident with a range of food textures and may even be pretty nifty with a spoon.

It’s important to keep introducing new foods to keep mealtime interesting. Your little one is still discovering what they like and dislike, and they can often become picky eaters at this age, as they have a greater understanding of choice and preference.

Aim to offer your little one a wide variety of foods, as that will help build up their gut bacteria. But continue to avoid added sugar and salt, and focus on whole foods, as opposed to processed foods.

At 12 months, it’s now safe for your baby to drink milk. You can give them dairy milk or plant-based milk fortified with calcium. Alternatively, you can continue to breastfeed for as long as you like.  

Key nutrients

From the time your baby starts solid foods, there are key nutrients they require from food. Below is a list of those we think are most important to take note of:

  • Calcium: An important fat-soluble mineral which helps babies grow strong bones. 7 to 12-month-olds need 270mg of calcium per day. Approximately half of this comes from breastmilk and/or formula, so the remaining half needs to come from other sources. Foods high in calcium include chia seeds, sesame seeds, leafy green vegetables, dairy foods and fortified plant-based milks.
  • Iron: Surprisingly, a 7 to 12-month-old needs more iron each day than a grown male, but there is no way a baby can consume as much food as an adult. Therefore, it is very important that babies are offered lots of high iron foods. The absorption of iron is quite complicated though, so it's recommended that high iron foods are paired with foods that contain high levels of Vitamin C.
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6: These are good fats and they are important for our babies’ brains. It’s recommended that babies are given 1-2 serves of omegas each day, to help their little brains develop well. One serve is a tablespoon of seeds and nuts – we like flaxseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts.
  • Protein: These are the ‘building blocks’ that build and repair our babies’ muscles. It is recommended that 7 to 12-month-olds have around 14gm of protein per day, with half of this coming from solid foods. Foods high in protein include tofu, green peas, beans and lentils.
  • Vitamin C: Our little ones need Vitamin C for immunity, and it can help boost iron absorption. However, because it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is very unstable and applying too much heat when cooking fruits and vegetables can remove large amounts of Vitamin C. Therefore, try to serve foods high in Vitamin C at room temperature. Tasty fruits high in vitamin C include kiwi fruit, strawberries and oranges.
  • Antioxidants: These help defend our little ones’ cells from damaging free radicals. So it’s important they eat a range of fruits and vegetables each day, to keep their bodies healthy. Berries in particular, are a great way to boost your little one’s antioxidant intake.
  • Vitamin B12: This helps to keep your little one’s nerves and blood cells healthy. There are very little foods that naturally contain B12 but being that it is so important, we recommend that parents pay special attention to ensure their babies get approximately 0.5 micrograms per day. Nutritional yeast is a great source of B12 and it can be sprinkled on many foods, creating a cheesy flavour.