The Importance of Zinc for Babies
6 min read
Ensuring that your little one eats with lots of variety is an excellent way to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they require as they grow.
But what kind of nutrients do they need and what should you be aware of?
One of the things your growing foodie will need is zinc. It’s important to ensure your baby’s food includes enough zinc, whether this means in homemade baby meals or baby food pouches!
Below, we explore what zinc is, how much your little one needs and what foods you can find it in.
What is Zinc?
We don’t often hear about zinc - so, what is it?
Zinc is an essential nutrient needed by our bodies that must be derived from food or supplements.
The mineral is vital for numerous bodily processes and can be found in a wide variety of foods.
Why is Zinc Important for Your Baby?
Along with iron, omega-3 and various vitamins, it is important to make sure your little one gets enough zinc through their food.
Like iron, zinc has a vital part in supporting your baby’s growth and physical development, but it also plays a central role in regulating other functions.
Other key processes supported by zinc include:
- Immune function
- Wound healing
- Making proteins and DNA
- Skin health and inflammation
- Taste and smell
Getting enough zinc will benefit your little one in countless ways!
To find out more about the broader nutritional needs of your little one, take a look at our nutritionist’s blog below:
How Much Zinc Does Your Baby Need?
As with other nutrients, how much zinc your little one requires will depend on how old they are.
It’s generally recommended that babies up to six months get 4mg/day while those from 7-12 months will require 5mg/day.
It is important that your baby gets a good amount of zinc through their food, whether this includes fortified options or naturally zinc-rich foods - zinc deficiency is rare but can affect growth.
If you are ever worried about your little one’s zinc intake or other nutritional requirements, it is best to speak to a healthcare professional.
Babease Top Tip
Be mindful of your baby’s zinc intake but don’t worry too much about making sure your little one gets their exact daily amount of zinc every day - if you ensure their diet is full of lots of variety, they’ll likely get enough zinc!
Remember, making sure your budding foodie eats a range of tasty, healthy foods is often the best way to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need, including zinc. So, focus on offering lots of exciting foods throughout the weaning journey.
Sources of Zinc for Your Baby
During the first six months, your baby will likely get enough zinc from their milk feeds, but after this point, when they start to rely on more solids, you should think about how to include zinc in their diet.
There are plenty of foods to include in your baby’s weaning meals that are brilliant sources of zinc:
- Red meats - beef, lamb, pork
- Poultry - turkey, chicken
- Shellfish - crab, mussels, oysters, prawns
- Fish - salmon, sardine, sole
- Dairy - milk, yoghurt, cheese
- Legumes - chickpeas, lentils, baked beans
- Nuts - cashews, almonds
- Seeds - pumpkin, hemp, flax, chia
- Whole grains - brown rice, brown bread, quinoa, oats
- Fortified cereals
Some foods will allow for better zinc absorption, so again, including a variety of these foods during weaning is the best course of action!
Animal products contain high amounts of zinc that can be easily absorbed by the body. Plant-based sources of zinc are less easily absorbed as they contain phytates which can prevent the absorption of zinc. However, it is possible to get enough zinc with a plant-based diet.
The Best Vegetables Containing Zinc
Although veggies are packed with nutritional-goodness and make brilliant foods for the weaning journey, many do not contain particularly high levels of zinc. Additionally, as mentioned, any zinc in vegetables are not as easily absorbed by the body.
However, there are a couple of options that contain good levels of zinc. Some of our favourites include:
Our Favourite Weaning Recipes Containing Zinc
As you can see, lots of different foods contain zinc, making including enough of it in your weaning recipes straightforward!
Our recipes section is full of great weaning recipes to try with your budding foodie as they explore the world of food. We’ve shared some of our favourites that are packed with tasty, zinc-rich ingredients.
Whole grains like quinoa are good sources of zinc and are wonderfully versatile, making them great options for the weaning journey.
Our rainbow vegetable quinoa recipe is sure to excite your little foodie and will contribute to their zinc intake.
Chicken and Lentil Stew
Both chicken and lentils are good sources of zinc. This stew is a tasty option for the whole family. It also couldn’t be simpler to make - just chuck everything into a pot and enjoy!
Spiced Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds spiced with new, exciting flavours can be a brilliant way to introduce more zinc and an array of other nutrients into your baby’s diet.
Hopefully, we have shed a bit of light on zinc and why it’s important for your baby’s food to contain enough of it. For more information about the nutritional needs of budding foodies and other weaning advice, you can check out the rest of our blog!