The Nutritional Needs of Babies from Six to 12 Months
6 min read
Your little one’s first experiences with food can set them up for life, so it’s important to know what to give them!
The most important thing is to ensure they get various nutritious foods as part of the weaning journey. This blog goes into a bit more detail regarding the nutrients to look out for.
Six-to-twelve months is often referred to as the weaning age, when your little one takes their first steps into the world of food. This time in their lives can be hugely exciting, as you introduce them to a world of new flavours and textures.
As your little one develops through this period, they will start to rely less on milk feeds (breast or supplements) for their nutrients. Therefore, you need to make sure they get the goodness they need from their weaning foods.
Ultimately, so long as you continue to feed your little one a wide variety of vegetables, they’ll get most of the nutrients they need.
Our Babease baby food is full of vegetable goodness and can offer support for busy parents. In this blog, we’re looking at the essential nutrients and where your baby can get them as part of their diet or supplements.
If you’re concerned about your baby’s nutritional needs or diet, we recommend speaking to a healthcare professional, who can provide advice specific to your little one.
Iron is a hugely important part of the human body. The primary role of iron is helping red blood cells transport oxygen around the body, so we all need to make sure we’re getting enough!
Breast milk does not provide iron for your little one. However, they are born with around 6 months’ worth of iron suppositories. After six months, you should look to ensure your baby gets enough iron from food through weaning or supplements.
Iron in Baby Food
Many different foods can provide your little one with the iron they need. Some of the most common include:
- Red meats
- Sweet potato
- Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach or kale)
- Beans or lentils
Zinc is a crucial part of our body’s natural immune system, which explains why it’s so essential for your little one!
Babies can get sufficient amounts of zinc from breastmilk for the first six months, while infant formula will usually provide zinc supplements. After six months, babies will need additional zinc from their weaning diet.
Zinc in Baby Food
Some zinc-rich foods to incorporate in your little one’s diet include:
- Pulses and beans
- Red meats and shellfish
Fibre is beneficial for everyone, regardless of age. Simply put, fibre contributes to a healthy gut and digestive system, amongst other things.
Unlike other vital nutrients in this list, fibre isn’t naturally in the body from birth. While a small amount of fibre can help your baby, too much can quickly fill their tummies and potentially cause discomfort, so introduce it in small quantities for the first two years of life.
Fibre in Baby Food
Foods that contain fibre that you could feed to your little one include:
- Green vegetables like spinach and broccoli
- Sweet potatoes
- Apples and bananas
- Grains like rice and wheat
Omega-3 is something we all know is good for us, but what does it do?
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid which helps to support the health and development of various functions in our body, including:
- Nervous system
- Brain development
Omega-3 in Baby Food
The best place to find omega-3 is in seafood, particularly oily fish such as:
A few portions of fish a week is enough, but don’t give them too much as oily fish also contain pollutants which can build-up in the body.
Vitamins are perhaps one of the most important things for our health, particularly at a young age. These micronutrients play a massive role in countless bodily functions, so it’s essential that we get all that we need.
There are many vitamins out there, but the main ones to focus on are:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
Vitamins in Baby Food
Most adults will get the vitamins they need from their varied diet. However, during weaning and early childhood, this can be challenging.
Therefore, the NHS recommend that all babies from six months up to five years are given daily supplements containing vitamins A, C and D.
This guidance is regardless of if you’re taking a vitamin D supplement during breastfeeding. However, if your baby has infant formula, they may not need supplements, since they can be fortified with what’s required.
Other Important Nutrients
There are so many nutrients out there, each offering something different to support our overall health. While the ones above are seen as crucial, these are also important and should be considered.
- Iodine – A mineral crucial for early brain development. Often found in dairy or fish.
- Calcium – Important for healthy bones. Babies will usually get what they need from milk.
- Protein – Important for overall body health and growth. Found in a wide range of foods, including milk, meat, fish and beans.
- Fats – Healthy fats provide energy to support growth and other nutrients. Olive oil, avocado, nut butters, oily fish and milk are all sources of healthy fats.
- Selenium – A trace element that supports the body’s immune system. Found in most foods, particularly fish.
While this list of nutrients can feel a little daunting, don’t be alarmed. As you may have noticed, many of these nutrients can be found in the same foods and are only needed in small doses.
The most important thing during this stage in their life is to ensure your little one gets a nutritious and varied diet. So long as they’re tasting a wide range of foods, combined with supplements when recommended, they should get all the nutrients they need.
If you’re ever uncertain whether your little one is getting everything their bodies need, speak to a nutritionist or other healthcare professional, who can offer personalised advice.
If you want to learn more about this exciting time in your little one’s life, check out our blog full of food and weaning advice!