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Nutrients: how do you make sure baby is getting the right nutrients?

When you are introducing solids, you should make sure your baby is enjoying a balanced diet. While the majority of their nutrients will come from their milk during the early stages of weaning, as they progress through the weaning journey these milk feeds will decrease. It’s a good idea to base your baby’s new meals around starchy foods which help provide energy for a growing child. You will also need to ensure that your baby’s meals are rich in protein (which supplies the body with amino acids which are known as the body's building blocks) and iron (essential for growth and development). 
 
One of the most common natural deficiencies is that of iron, which can affect growth and development. Babies are born with a store of iron, which lasts approximately 6 months, after which time they will need to get their iron supply from their diet. With a vegetarian diet, the source of iron must be obtained from pulses and vegetables such as peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. As long as there is no history of asthma, allergy, eczema or hay fever in the immediate family, smooth peanut butter can be introduced into the solid food diet from 6 months. Whole or chopped nuts should not be given to children under 5 years of age due to the risk of choking.
 
Calcium is essential for healthy teeth and bone development. You can include dairy products when preparing meals, such as cheese, yoghurts and fromage frais which are a rich source of calcium. You should not feed your baby cow’s milk before they are 1 year old, and babies under 2 should only be given whole milk, as reduced fat milk does not contain all the vitamins and fat required for a growing baby. There are also various minerals and vitamins required which can be obtained from fruit and vegetables.
 
Good sources of each of these food groups are as follows:
 
Fibre & Starchy Food
Bread
Pasta
Rice
Breakfast cereals
Potatoes
 
Protein & Iron
Lean red meat is a good source of iron and protein
Eggs (very well cooked until the yolk and white are hard)
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are also excellent sources of iron and protein
Cheese
Lentils
 
Calcium
Cheese
Yoghurt
 
Minerals and Vitamins
Many essential minerals and vitamins can be found commonly in fresh fruit and vegetables
 
Vitamin A
Commonly found in carrots, avocados, spinach, dark leafy vegetables, kiwi, and prunes
Essential for vision
 
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Commonly found in mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, turnips, spinach, apples, prunes, and grapefruit.
Helps normal production of energy from food in the body
 
Vitamin B6
Commonly found in cabbage, prunes
Essential for a healthy immune system, healthy red blood cells 
 
Vitamin C
Commonly found in avocados, banana, green and red peppers, turnip, cabbage, kiwi, tomatoes, blackcurrants, strawberries
Essential for iron absorption and maintaining a healthy immune system
 
Vitamin D
Currently, all babies in Ireland should be given a Vitamin D supplement containing 5ug daily until they are 12 months old
 
Vitamin E
Commonly found in sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables, peas
Essential for healthy DNA 
 
Vitamin K
Commonly found in green vegetables, cauliflower
Essential for clotting blood
 
Folic Acid
Commonly found in dark green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, dates
Essential for bones
 
Calcium
Commonly found in avocados, celery, dates, apricots, raisins, green leafy vegetables
Essential for healthy growth of teeth and bones,and for blood clotting
 
Phosphorus
Commonly found in mushrooms, carrots, squash
Essential for healthy teeth and bones
 
Iodine
Commonly found in celery, mushrooms, grapes, oranges
Essential for a helathy thyroid
 
Potassium
Commonly found in mushrooms, brussels sprouts, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, oranges, dried fruits
Essential for healthy nerves and muscles
 
Magnesium
Commonly found in dark green vegetables and pineapple
Essential for muscle function 
 
Zinc
Commonly found in mushrooms
Essential for healthy immune system function
 
Ideal foods to begin with when you are starting to wean,include pureed vegetables or pureed fruit, or baby rice or cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk.
 
Once your baby is used to the pureed food, you can start to introduce mashed foods that contain soft lumps, which your baby can chew on even without teeth.
 
You can also begin to introduce new textures such as blended mini dinners with fish, meat or chicken included (making sure that everything is cooked through and that any bones are removed).  This gives you the opportunity to try out some new tastes by using stronger vegetables in your mini blended dinners such as spinach and cabbage. For more recipe ideas why not visit our recipe section?
 
Although you are still feeding your baby milk at this time, you can also introduce a beaker. You can give your baby fruit or vegetable juice but you should only offer at mealtimes (to help protect baby’s emerging teeth). Make sure it is diluted well, using at least one part juice to ten parts water.
 

More questions

Best foods to begin weaning with
Can my 6 month old have fish?
Recommended age to start weaning
Fibre is important in your baby's diet but should only be present in small amounts as it can prevent the absorbtion of important minerals.
Fat is a vital source of energy for your growing baby.
Gluten is contained in foods such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats which are alll good sources of iron and fibre.
Honey should never be given to a baby under 12 months due to the risk of botulism poisoning.
There are lots of wonderful first foods for your baby to try including puréed vegetables, fruit, and baby cereals. 
There are lots of great ways to easily prepare and cook food for your baby.
A good breakfast is vital to ensure your baby is getting the best start to the day. 

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