Ensuring a healthy baby diet is not only about choosing the highest quality products from proven manufacturers. You should also learn to read product labels — they will tell a lot about the ingredients. So, what to look for in baby food? Let’s figure it out.
Carbohydrates, sometimes referred to as sugars, are divided into simple and complex. They are a source of easily digestible energy for the body. They are also crucial for the brain, nerve core, muscles, intestines, and heart because they act as fuel. Carbohydrates also include fiber, which improves the digestive system’s functioning by acting like a brush and preventing constipation. Fiber comes in two forms, soluble (e.g. in vegetables and fruit) and insoluble (e.g. in wheat bran, wholemeal bread, etc.).
Protein is a building component of all body cells. It is used by the body in hormones and enzyme production. Protein is an essential component of the diet. However, its excess in the baby’s diet leads to an increase in the number and volume of fat cells and, consequently, to overweight or obesity. The best source of protein for infants is breast milk. Baby formula can become an alternative if the mother does not want to or cannot breastfeed. Make sure to carefully check the infant formula ingredients before choosing such a product. When the baby starts trying regular products, it can receive protein from dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, and legumes.
Population Reference Intake (PRI) for basic protein needs is estimated at 1.77 g/kg/day in the first two months of life. This gradually decreases to 1.14 g/kg/day in the eleventh-twelfth months of life.
The body uses fats to build cell membranes. Besides, they are a good source of energy. A baby needs fat much more than an adult. The constantly developing nervous system needs unsaturated fatty acids, so it is worth enriching the child’s meals with these ingredients. For example, you can add about 5 g of olive oil for every 100 ml of soup. Egg yolks and fish are also healthy sources of fat.
Population Reference Intake for fats during the first six months of life is around 50-55%. During the second half of the first year, it is about 40% of the total energy supplied. A lower fat intake at this age is dangerous as it can lead to decreased levels of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Vitamins And Minerals
When buying and preparing meals for a baby, pay attention to the content of micronutrients in products. Your baby’s body needs vitamins and minerals to develop and grow properly.
- Vitamins are organic compounds, the presence of which in the body in small amounts is essential for many metabolic processes. We can distinguish fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins and vitamin C).
- Minerals are a group of compounds that the body cannot synthesize on its own, and therefore must be supplied in appropriate amounts with food. Minerals can be divided into macronutrients (e.g. calcium, magnesium) and microelements (e.g. zinc, iron, or iodine).
The demand for some of these substances may be up to five times higher in babies than adults.