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What are the key nutrients for my baby & toddler?

We take a look at four vital baby food nutrients and provide a concise list of their plant based sources. 

The best healthy weaning foods for babies?
Being a newbie to parenting is hard enough with everything to learn & experience but with the chronic lack of time it sometimes makes simple daily tasks, such as reading a paper or book, a rare treat. Let alone researching what is best to feed your young and why. So here is a snap shot of what nutritionists deem the four most important nutrients for growing babies and toddlers.

Your baby & toddler’s nutritional needs
At around six months your baby’s nutritional requirements increase and the iron stores they are born with begin to run out. So although up until this point, breast milk was a perfect ‘complete food' it's nutritional composition is naturally low in key nutrients. Which means we need to start looking at ways to find these from the foods we wean them on. 

This also applies to bottle feed babies (including ours!), as its nutrient dense baby foods from the offset should be shared by all tiny ones regardless of their milk preference.

The big four vital baby & toddler food nutrients
So the big four vital nutrients are believed to be:

1. Calcium: for their bone & teeth development. Plays a role in heart rhythm, nerve transmission & muscle growth.

2. Iron: to transport oxygen in their blood. Support their growth, brain function & immunity against infection.

3. Zinc: to to aid their bodily growth & development. Supports immune system & builds resistance to disease.

4. Vitamin D: to to help them absorb calcium for their bone health, immune & nervous system.

However, it is important to note that every tiny one is individual and has different needs and demands to their compadres. 

Although we advocate trying to incorporate all four nutrients into little ones lives every day the exact amount (mg/day) would have to be deciphered by a paediatric nutritionist who has met your child and done the necessary checks - weight, length, appetite etc.

Key nutrients and their plant based sources
We have complied a concise list of popular plant foods which contain the above four vital nutrients for babies and toddlers. 

Notice how the lists get progressively shorter, as vitamin D is a tricky one and the best natural form is sunlight. We find getting them out for daily fresh air works for us even for the fair, strawberry blonde 14 month old!

Popular plant foods with naturally occurring calcium: Broccoli, spinach, almonds, butternut squash, chia seeds, coconut flesh, avocados, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, brown dates, raisins, green beans, peas and char d.

Popular plant foods with naturally occurring Iron: Spinach, chard, kale, lentils, beans, quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat, millet, butternut squash, dried apricots, molasses, cashews, almonds, pumpkin & sesame seeds (Iron is best absorbed when combined with Vitamin C which is found in many fruit & vegetables but also in fresh herbs such as parsley).

Popular plant foods with naturally occurring Zinc: Pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, chick peas, quinoa, chia seeds, lentils, beans & oatmeal.

Vitamin D
Popular plant foods with naturally occurring Vitamin D: Sun-dried mushrooms & sunflower seeds.

Nutritional advice
You may choose to feed your tiny one plant foods alongside their animal based counterparts/with dairy only/take the vegan route etc but whichever you choose it is always advisable to talk to a nutritionist or health professional just to check you have all your bases covered.

An annual nutritional MOT is always a good habit to get into too and can help avoid the nursery lurgies!

For further nutritional information or to book an appointment please go to www.livehappylife.com

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