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So, bub is onto solids, and you might be wondering if those purees and tiny bites are giving them enough nutrients? There's iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B, vitamin C, to name a few. It feels like an alphabet soup of vitamins and minerals! The good news is, a wide variety of foods usually covers these bases for your bub. Still though, let's quickly break down some of the essential vitamins and minerals, so you can feed your baby with confidence. You're already doing an amazing job, Mumma/Dadda!
Each vitamin and mineral provides different functions within bub's body. They all have a pivotal role in bub's growth and development. You can find vitamins and minerals in a wide range of foods which is why you keep hearing over and over "to eat a variety of foods.”
Most vitamins and minerals are best absorbed through the food we eat, rather than from supplements. This is why the best way to make sure your baby gets all the vitamins and minerals they need is to offer balanced meals, focusing on providing a variety of different fruit and vegetables, proteins and wholegrains.
Let’s take a deep dive into the different vitamins and minerals your baby needs, shall we!
Starting off with vitamins…
Vitamin A is a powerful aid in healthy growth and development, and more specifically for eyesight, skin and immunity. This is especially important to help fight off disease and infections.
If you want a quick and convenient way to offer Vitamin A to your baby, the Nourishing Bubs vegetable purees are just that! Including carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli and zucchini, you can grab your Baby’s First Food Vegetable Packs here: https://www.nourishingbubs.com/collections/all
B Vitamins are actually a group of different vitamins that each play an important role in your baby’s development. Many actually help release the energy from food so that bub’s nervous system, muscles and brain can function normally. Vitamin B6 and B12 are particularly important for producing more red blood cells to help oxygenate bub’s body.
Because the majority of B vitamins cannot be stored in the body, it’s important to regularly include a range of whole grains, lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and legumes, in your baby’s diet to ensure they are getting enough B vitamins.
Yeast extracts like vegemite are also another great way to include B Vitamins in bub’s diet!
Vitamin C is a critical component of collagen formation which is needed to strengthen your baby’s skin and bones whilst growing. It also helps keep teeth and gums healthy, as well as supporting baby’s immune system to help fight off bugs and infections.
Sounds like a total package right?
Vitamin C is quite sensitive to heat and often loses some of its nutritional value during cooking. For this reason, fruit and veg in their raw form are a great source of Vitamin C to offer your baby!
Vitamin D, along with calcium, is important in growing strong and healthy bones. Most of the Vitamin D needed comes from direct sunlight exposure on bub’s skin- but remember to be sun safe with their sensitive skin.
Similar to Vitamin C, Vitamin E is great in helping build your baby’s immune system. It is also important for their skin and eye development.
Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and wound healing, as well as supporting healthy bones.
Folate is one of the B vitamins that has a very special role in the body. It helps to absorb protein and it is also used in the formation of new blood cells and DNA.
Now let’s move on to the different minerals bub needs for healthy growing…
Calcium is critical to keep baby’s bones and teeth strong.It is found in foods like:
Iron is one of the main minerals to focus on particularly as you start your baby’s food journey. It’s a great idea to include iron rich foods as some of the first you introduce as your baby begins solids. This is because it is involved in so many functions of the body; including brain function and producing red blood cells.
Zinc is another mineral that assists healthy growing and immunity building. It also plays a role in wound healing and brain development.
This mineral is particularly important while your baby is growing as it is essential for healthy tissue development and the way their body uses energy and oxygen.
There are a number of other minerals that play a part in your baby’s healthy growing. They include magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, selenium and copper. These can all be found in many of the foods already mentioned. Focusing on providing a variety of colours and food groups in your baby’s diet should help them reach all their vitamin and mineral needs.
Not often, but sometimes babies may not be getting enough of certain vitamins or minerals. This is more common in bubs with allergies, on a vegetarian diet or who have any other health issues - best to speak to doc about this one if you're worried!
Some of the most common deficiencies in children in Australia include Vitamin B12 and D, calcium, iron and zinc. Babies and toddlers are at greater risk of iron deficiency as they need more iron during their growth spurts. Severe deficiency called iron deficiency anaemia can cause long term effects on brain development.
Did you know giving too much milk to your toddler can also make them miss out on key vitamins and nutrients? Getting full on milk can make them less likely to eat the right amount of foods needed to reach their vitamin and mineral needs. Having too much calcium can also block iron absorption in the body, which is why it’s best to limit a toddler’s cow’s milk intake to no more than 500ml a day.
The most effective way to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrients they need for each stage of growing, is to follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Most nutrient deficiencies can be avoided by offering a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups, with lots of different colours!
Your baby needs lots of different vitamins and minerals whilst they are growing and it can be hard to keep track of it all. Trying to calculate their daily intake of each vitamin and mineral can cause way too much stress. That’s why we recommend offering different types of food regularly, and enjoying different coloured fruit and vegetables every day to cover all bases. Our fruit and vegetable puree packs can make it that one step easier to include variety in bub’s diet. You can view our range here: https://www.nourishingbubs.com/collections/all
If you have any concerns that your baby may have a nutrient deficiency, trust your instinct and speak with your GP.
My baby is ready for solids - do I puree feed? BLW? A combo of the two? Which is better for Bub? Which is better for me? Arghh help!
An article to reassure you and give you the confidence whichever mode of feeding you choose for your little one as they embark on their solids adventure!