The Importance of Omega-3 for Babies
6 min read
There are many nutrients that are essential for babies, and omega-3 is one of the most important.
Discover how you can give omega-3 to your little one in this blog!
Making sure your baby gets the nutrients they need as they grow is a crucial part of weaning. Whether you are cooking from home or getting support from our nutritious baby food pouches, it’s important that they get a wide range of different foods packed with the nutrients they need.
What is Omega-3?
Sometimes referred to as fish oil, omega-3 is what is known as an ‘essential fatty acid’. As with many other minerals, such as iron, there are multiple ‘types’ of omega-3 that can be obtained from different sources, including fish and plants:
- A-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
All of these types of omega-3 offer the same benefits, but with slightly different efficacy in our bodies.
EPA and DHA are commonly found in fish - DHA is the most common and effective form when it comes to nutrition. ALA is found in a variety of plant-based foods, such as nuts and seeds.
Understanding Fatty Acids
When you hear ‘fatty acids’, you can be forgiven for thinking ‘fats’. However, similar to sugars in adults, there are bad sources and good ones when it comes to fats.
Saturated fats often come from processed foods and animals, and these are generally bad for our health. On the other hand, unsaturated fats - common in plants and fish - can provide a range of health benefits, so long as they’re consumed in small portions.
The Benefits of Omega-3 for Babies
There are many important nutrients to consider for your little one. However, omega-3 is also crucial. The primary benefit of omega-3 is that it helps to build new cells in the body, which makes it doubly-crucial for your growing little one!
Omega-3 plays a role in various parts of our bodies, helping to create a range of benefits:
- Anti-Inflammatory - Omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce any swelling.
- Brain Food - Omega-3 supports brain development, helping with things such as concentration, focus, and even sight.
- Nervous & Cardiovascular Systems - Omega-3 helps the body’s key systems develop.
Where to Find Omega-3 for Babies
The primary way of giving your little one omega-3 will be through fish. DHA, the best form of omega-3 for our bodies, if found in concentrated amounts in oily fish such as:
Note that oily fish can also contain some pollutants, so it’s recommended to only serve them in small amounts. Thankfully, your baby only needs a tiny portion of these fish to get the omega-3 they need.
It is recommended that your little one has two portions of fish a week - this should be enough for their omega-3 intake.
Vegetarian and Vegan Sources of Omega-3 for Babies
If fish is not an option for you when it comes to giving your little one omega-3, there are other ways.
ALA, another type of omega-3, can be found in various plant-based foods, including:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
However, ALA is harder for our bodies to absorb. For little ones, it is unlikely that they will get the omega-3 recommended through these foods alone.
Omega-3 does pass through breast milk, so if you are eating omega-3 foods or supplements yourself, some nutrients will pass to your little one. Most formula milk is also fortified with the omega-3 your baby needs.
There are many vegetarian omega-3 DHA supplements available for babies that can give them the nutrients they need. There are some vegan omega-3 supplements, too, but always check that supplements have been designed and are safe for the age of your baby. If you’re ever unsure, speak to a healthcare professional.
Our Favourite Omega-3 Baby Weaning Recipes
Giving your little one plant-based omegas is really simple. A great option is adding some chia seeds to make our Super Grain Porridge, the perfect start for the whole family!
Another wonderful idea is simply roasting some of your favourite seeds with a touch of tamari to create an exotic flavour. This recipe is perfect from around 7-8 months, or the seeds can be ground and used as a dressing!
We hope that we’ve shown the importance of omega-3 for your little one! To discover more about your baby’s health and the importance of good, nutritious food, check out the rest of our blog!