A good balance of micro and macro nutrients is critical for healthy development, and consuming a daily range of protein, fibre, Omega-3 DHA, Iron, Zinc, and other micronutrients will help to maintain your child’s health in later life.
There are certain types of foods that are nutrient dense, because they provide a significant proportion of the key nutrients that are required for healthy development. A rainbow of vegetables, fruits, grains, and oils provides important nutrients and phytochemicals, essential fatty acids are critical for a baby’s brain growth and development in the first 1000 days of life, and prebiotic fibre is a functional ingredient that supports the baby’s digestive system allowing them to better absorb these key nutrients.
Examples of nutrient dense foods:
Quinoa is a seed that contains all 9 essential amino acids needed for healthy growth and development. We need all 9 amino acids to maximise the utilisation of proteins in the body. Quinoa is naturally gluten free, so suitable for babies with sensitive tummies and coeliacs. Quinoa also contains a lot of prebiotic fibre, which helps the growth of Bifidobacteria – one of your baby’s most important beneficial bacteria.
Sweet potatoes provide potassium, vitamin C, fibre, and beta-carotene. Most babies prefer sweet potatoes over other vegetables because of their naturally sweet taste. When cooked and mashed, sweet potatoes make a smooth puree that’s easy to eat, even for babies who are just starting to transition to solid foods.
Avocado has the highest protein content of any fruit, and is rich in monounsaturated fat. Avocados are a source of vitamins C, E, K, and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. Therefore, avocados provide a fantastic range of nutrients.
Butternut Squash: Babies also love the sweet taste of butternut squash, which contains the antioxidant beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, fibre, folate, B-vitamins, and even some omega-3 fatty acids. Simply steam or boil butternut squash until tender, then puree until smooth.
Peas are a great source of plant-based protein and also contain vitamin K, a nutrient that works alongside calcium to build healthy bones. They have antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, fibre, and B vitamins.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent food when starting solids because they contain a plant-based protein, and are a source of Omega-3. The seeds contain several nutrients that are essential for your baby’s development, such as vitamin K, copper, iron, and magnesium. They are also one of the richest plant sources of zinc, a commonly deficient nutrient in young children.
Stage 1 is about getting baby used to new tastes and textures. Your baby will still be getting most of their energy and nutrients from breast milk or infant formula. Start with 1 meal per day, and gradually go at your baby’s pace up to 3 meals per day, plus their usual milk feeds.
Veggies first… especially green ones and those that aren’t too sweet. Eg broccoli, peas, spinach. This will help to encourage a lifetime of healthy eating.
Stage 2 is an exciting time, as your baby becomes used to more textures, finger foods and flavours. In stage 2, baby will become established on 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and tea), plus their usual milk feeds up to 3 to 4 times per day (around 600ml of milk a day).
Here at Little Inca we are all about positive nutrition – the good stuff to enable optimal development! We use plant-based ingredients to support your baby’s gut health, so your baby can enjoy a variety of plants, vegetables, and quinoa!