Iron & protein for your baby
The first twelve months are the most rapid phase of growth and development in life. So it makes sense that babies need the key nutrients that support healthy blood flow, tissue growth and cognitive development during this time. Iron and protein are just two of these nutrients.
We spoke to Mum and nutritional therapist Jodie Abrahams, and mum and founder of Little Veggie Eats Rachel Boyett, who have shared their tips on how to include iron and protein in your baby's diet right from the start.
Iron is essential for supporting the transport of oxygen around the body and plays a key role in brain and nervous system development. Babies' iron stores begin to deplete at around 6 months of age, so it's important to include iron rich foods in your baby's diet once you start complementary feeding.
Protein is needed to build, maintain and repair the body's cells and tissues. Cells and tissues form organs, muscles and bones - so protein really is essential for all the body's functions.
There are plenty of plant-based sources of iron and protein - although both nutrients have been traditionally associated with meat. However, be aware that many plant-based sources do not contain all the essential amino acids to form complete proteins, so they need to be combined. This can be easily done, for example by serving lentils with brown rice.
We need vitamin C to absorb iron effectively, and nature cleverly combines these two nutrients in sources like broccoli, spinach, chard and kale, sweet potato and winter squash. A squeeze of lemon juice added to a meal just before serving can also provide vitamin C to boost iron availability.
Lentils, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas, chickpeas, green peas, sesame seeds and mushrooms all combine iron and protein and form great bases for stews, soups and curries. Serve them with some greens and sweet potato and you have a meal that will help your babe grow big and strong.
We both believe that encouraging your baby to eat the same food as the rest of the family helps to establish family mealtimes and introduces your little one to a range of flavours. It also makes life easier for you as it makes meal prep much simpler!
See their simple dal recipe here.
Jodie Abrahams is an east London-based nutritional therapist. Find information on Jodie's nutritional therapy consultation plans for personalised advice and support, and sign up to receive tips and recipes at jodieabrahams.com.
Rachel Boyett is a London based mum of two with an interest in weaning and feeding children healthy vegetarian food. Her recipes and meal ideas are simple, quick and nutritious. For more information follow her on Instagram.