Essential Vitamins and Nutrients for Babies aged 4-8 months

Essential Vitamins and Nutrients for Babies ages 4-8 months

Posted in 4+ Months, 4+ Months Nutrition, 6+ Months, 6+ Months Nutrition, 8+ Months, 8+ Months Nutrition, Baby's First Foods, Nutritional Information, Textured Baby Food

By the age of around four to six months, most babies have had their first taste of solid foods in the form of mashed or pureed cereal, vegetables and/or fruit.  They will also still be relying on either breastmilk or age appropriate formula to give them the nutrition they require to grow and thrive.  As they grow, they will require additional food to support their liquid diet, so it’s important that the food you give your child is nutrient -rich.

 

The food you give to your baby will provide nourishment from carbohydrates, protein and fat (macro nutrients), as well as essential vitamins and minerals (micro nutrients).  These micronutrients are required in small amounts every day to ensure healthy growth and physical development of your child.  A lack of vitamins and minerals in your child’s diet may lead to health issues, which is why it’s important to start them on their food journey in the best way possible.

 

The simplest way to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients that they require is to go back to basics and examine the five food groups.  Offering a variety of food from each of these groups every day will help to ensure that your baby is receiving all the different vitamins and minerals they need, and will also open their senses to different smells, tastes and textures. Remember that it is your job to offer different foods and let your baby choose what and how much they want to eat, as they are able to regulate their own hunger. Don’t worry if some days they eat more than others, as just like adults their appetites can vary and be influenced by a number of factors.

 

If you are just starting solids, aim to introduce one food at a time so you can monitor your baby for any adverse reactions. Once you know they can tolerate a specific food, move onto one of the other five food groups so you can slowly start to expose them to foods from all five food groups. In their first year of life, it doesn’t matter how quickly or slowly this progresses, as they will still be receiving their main source of nutrition from breastmilk or formula.

 

We have put together a handy guide to help you ensure your child is being nourished by quality, wholesome foods that are rich sources of vitamins and minerals.

Vegetables.  It is likely that pureed or mashed vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin and zucchini will be some of the first solid foods that your baby will try.  Try to offer a wide range of vegetables with the skin on (where possible) to allow for maximum nutrient content.  Below is a handy chart showing which vegetables contain the different vitamins and minerals and the benefits that these micronutrients provide for your growing child.

 

Vitamin/Nutrient Vegetables
Vitamin A – promotes healthy eyes and skin, growth and immune function. Carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato.
Vitamin B – assists in releasing energy from food and helping the nervous system and muscles work properly. Leafy green vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, kale and spinach.
Vitamin C – assists in fighting infections, promotes tissue repair and helps with the absorption of iron. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potato, cabbage and capsicum.
Vitamin K – assists blood to clot. Turnips, broccoli, green beans, asparagus and spinach.
Calcium – essential for building healthy teeth and bones. Spinach, broccoli, parsley, kale and bok choy.
Potassium – great for heart and muscle function. Spinach, sweet and regular potato and pumpkin
Iron – essential for carrying oxygen in the blood and brain function. Very important from 6 months old (when baby’s iron reserves from mother start to run low). Dark green leafy vegetables including spinach, silverbeet, broccoli and parsley.
Folate – assists in protein absorption and building cells. Most green leafy vegetables.

 

Fruits.  From around four to six months, you can begin to offer a wide variety of fruits to your baby, as fruits are one of the best sources of vitamins.  You can puree or mash them, and begin to offer slices of fruit to older babies who are keen to start using their hands to feed themselves.  Try to offer your baby one piece of fruit per day, trying different varieties on each day.

 

Some citrus fruits can trigger a reaction, due to the high amounts of natural chemicals in these fruits called salicylates and amines. The most common type of reaction is redness or eczema, particularly around the mouth. This is not an allergic reaction, but if you see this after your baby has eaten a specific fruit, you may wish to avoid these fruits and see if the reaction clears up. If you are unsure which fruits may be causing a reaction or you have any concerns, it is best to discuss this with your healthcare professional.

Vitamin/Nutrient Fruits
Vitamin A – promotes healthy eyes and skin, growth and immune function. Oranges, mandarins, mango, cantaloupe and watermelon.
Vitamin C – assists in fighting infections, promotes tissue repair and helps with the absorption of iron. Kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, strawberries, apples and pears.
Potassium – great for heart and muscle function. Bananas.

 

Grains.  Offer your baby an array of wholegrain foods such as wholemeal breads and pastas, cereals and rice.  These foods provide your baby with Vitamin B, Iron, Zinc and Folic acids, which assist in everything from energy production, blood oxygenation, wound healing and protein absorption. Whilst there is quite a lot of iron found in wholegrain foods, this type of plant-based iron (known as non-haem iron) is not as well absorbed as the iron that comes from meat sources (haem iron).

If your baby eats a vegetarian diet, try incorporating foods high in Vitamin C (e.g. citrus fruits) together with wholegrains, as the Vitamin C helps to increase iron absorption.

 

Dairy.  Foods such as yogurt, cheese and milk offer high levels of Calcium and Vitamin D, which is crucial for strong, healthy teeth, bones, hair and nails.  Children under two years should use full fat milk products as they need the extra energy for growth (p45, National Health and Medical Research Council Eat For Health Educator Guide).

 

Proteins. As your baby approaches eight months of age you can start introducing red meat, chicken, fish, tofu, and legumes to their diet. As with all other foods, offer a small amount by itself first, to check if your baby has any adverse reactions to a new food.

 

Eggs can also be offered as a good source of protein. Eggs are a common known allergen that occurs in young babies, although an egg allergy is generally not severe and may be outgrown over time.

 

Apart from protein, this group of food is rich in a wide variety of essential Vitamins and Minerals, especially Iron, which is essential to provide to your baby from 6 months of age when the reserves provided by the mother from pregnancy start to run low.

Vitamin/Nutrient Proteins
B Group Vitamins – assists in releasing energy from food and helping the nervous system and muscles work properly. Red meat, chicken, fish and eggs.
Vitamin D - assists in promoting strong, healthy bones. Fish and egg yolk.
Iron – essential for brain function and for carrying oxygen in the blood. Very important from 6 months old (when baby’s iron reserves from mother start to run low). Red meat, chicken and eggs.
Zinc – assists in wound healing and immune system function. Red meat, chicken, tofu and fish.

 

If you are unsure about what to feed your child, or have any other questions regarding infant nutrition, please consult your health professional.

Resources:

http://www.vegetables.co.nz/health/vegetable-nutrition/

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/vitamins.html/context/234

https://www.tresillian.org.au/advice-tips/nutrition/8-12-months/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

About the Author

About the Author: Rafferty’s Garden is a brand brought to life by our love of good food and by our belief in ensuring Australian babies get an amazing start to their food journey. .

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