Bad Mum 2B

Bad Mum 2B

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Do you know what essential nutrients your baby needs?


    • Over half of parents (62%) admit they do not know what nutrients their babies need when it comes to weaning
    • Annabel Karmel advocates the need for more meat, fish and cheese in a baby’s diet

New research, released today by Annabel Karmel and DK Books, has revealed that a staggering 62% of parents are unaware what nutrients their babies need when the all-important weaning stage arrives. Worries include not knowing which critical nutrients are required, what to do when it comes to integrating milk feeds and how to ensure their children are receiving a balanced diet – which 81% of respondents admitted they needed advice on.

Despite leading busy lives and being notoriously time poor, nearly 9 out of 10 parents make their baby’s food from scratch in a bid to ensure they get what they need. Additionally, nearly 40% prepare fresh food specifically for their baby separately to their family meal. Although these statistics are positive, 1 in 10 parents found knowing when to add key foods into a baby’s diet such as meat, fish, cheese and eggs one of the hardest aspects of weaning. All these food types contain vital nutrients and vitamins which are needed to ensure healthy growth and development.

The issue is further exacerbated by a lack of knowledge around managing milk feeds. Introducing solids is important as once a baby reaches six months, milk alone will not give them the critical nutrients they need, especially when it comes to iron and essential fatty acids.  Nearly 1 in 3 found managing milk feeds the hardest part when it comes to weaning. Similarly, just feeding a baby fruit and vegetables at six months isn’t sufficient – at this stage they need to be introduced to a wide variety of additional food types and groups.

What are critical nutrients and what should babies be getting?
At the age of six months, it is essential for babies to be weaned onto a varied diet. The below information outlines what babies should be getting as part of their everyday diet.*

From six months to two years babies need more iron than at any other time of their lives. Babies who don’t get enough can have sensory and cognitive impairment and it may affect their motor development. It is essential to give iron-rich foods at least twice a day from six months.
The best sources of iron are red meat and dark poultry. Other iron rich foods are fortified breakfast cereals, wholegrain cereal products such as pasta, egg yolk, pulses, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit such as apricots and dates.
Around 50% of a baby’s energy needs to come from fats and oils for growth and development, and a lack of fat can affect cognitive development. It can be hard getting fats into a baby’s diet as they don’t eat much, so it’s important to choose dense energy foods.
To encourage babies to eat fats, vegetables can be tossed in melted butter; full fat yogurt can be added to fruit. Babies should have whole milk and cream, full fat cheese, and foods should be cooked with oils such as rapeseed oil and olive oil when possible.

There are two types of fibre but only one is good for babies. Insoluble fibre can’t be digested and should be avoided as it sweeps food through the digestive system making it difficult to absorb important minerals. Soluble fibre can be digested and is good for a healthy heart. Too much however can cause tummy ache.
Soluble fibre can be found in oats, beans, pulses, vegetables, fruits including dried, and wholegrain bread.
This is the main nutrient for growth but can’t be used efficiently by the body unless the baby has enough energy.
Protein rich foods include fish, meat, milk, cheese, nuts, eggs, beans, soya, and pulses.
Essential fatty acids (EFSs)
The most important EFA for babies is Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega fatty acid which is essential for brain development and the development of the retina.
The only decent food source is oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and fresh tuna (not canned). However, babies shouldn’t eat oily fish more than twice a week. DHA can also be found in eggs from hens fed with omega-3-rich grains.
These are also energy providers, and alongside fats, provide the fuel required for a baby’s body to make the best use of protein food.
Babies should get both white and wholegrain versions of grains, rice, bread and pasta. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and fortified breakfast cereals are also good sources.
Zinc is needed for the development of a healthy immune system and a diet high in zinc helps to boost a baby’s immunity.
All iron rich foods are also high in zinc (see previous list).
Vitamin D
This vitamin is important for bone growth and is essential for developing immunity. The recommendation is to give 8.5-10mcg supplement daily, infant formula contains the supplement but breastfed babies should receive drops.
This vitamin is made by the body when sunlight shines on the skin. Food sources containing vitamin D are oily fish, egg yolk, and fortified foods such as margarine, milks and cereals.
Vitamin C
This is essential for iron absorption, healing healthy skin and bones and boosting immunity. 
All fruit and vegetables are good sources but especially berries, papaya, mango, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, broccoli, cauliflower and sweet peppers.

*All information is taken from Weaning by Annabel Karmel - a fully revised and newly updated version of the bestselling book originally published in 2010.

Internationally renowned cookery author, Annabel Karmel says; “Weaning is such an important part of our baby’s development, but with a fifth of parents admitting to not being confident about introducing new foods to a baby, there is clearly a job to done around educating parents about critical nutrients. Ensuring a baby eats correctly and absorbs the right amount of critical nutrients, suitable to their age, is essential. My new book offers a wealth of experience, guidance and top tips on this subject as well as brand new delicious recipes to entice your little ones. This is a time for exploration and we want babies to grow up with a love of food having been introduced to a plethora of tastes, textures and flavours along their weaning journey”.

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