Before your baby turns one, he will go through 12 months of very rapid growth. His nutritional needs will be constantly changing in this period, too.

By the time he is ready for solids, most nutrition and calories will still be supplied by formula or breast milk. But the nutrition he is getting from solid foods will be becoming more and more important every day until about 9-10 months when most babies start getting as much, if not more, nutrition and calories from solid foods as from formula or breast milk.

To prepare your baby for this very gradual but major transition, it makes sense to introduce nutrient dense foods into his diet from early on.

To learn more about how to start your baby on solids, check my posts on when to start solids, how to use the mixed approach (purees+finger foods), pros and cons of baby Led Weaning, how to choose and prepare finger foods and what to expect in terms of feeding as your baby turns into a toddler.

This post is about the important nutrients your baby needs and 14 nutritional superstars or superfoods for your baby you can start incorporating into his diet right now.

14 superfoods for your baby

 

Your baby needs a variety of macro and micronutrients to grow and thrive. Here are some of the important ones:

 

Protein:
Protein suppliers our bodies’ structural blocks and it is extremely important for growing, development and immunity. From about 6-7 months babies need a good source of protein in the diet in addition to the protein they are getting from breast milk or formula.

Iron:
Iron helps supply oxygen to cells and it is especially important during rapid growth. It also plays a vital role in brain development. To make sure your baby is getting enough iron, offer some iron rich foods twice a day from about 6-7 months, especially if you are breastfeeding. Formula is fortified with iron. Best solid food sources are meat, beans, leafy greens and fortified foods.

Zinc:
Zinc is crucial for maintaining the immune function, cognitive development, cell growth and repair. It is usually found in iron-rich foods and if your baby is not a vegan or vegetarian it is easy to meet his needs. If you are formula feeding your baby, it helps to know that many formulas are fortified with zinc.

Fats:
Fats should not be restricted in the first two years of life. Try incorporating some fat like butter, oil, nut or seed butter or avocado into most solid foods your baby is eating to boost his brain development and help with vitamin absorption.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) are Omega 3 acids that are especially beneficial for brain and eye development. Best sources of DHA and EPA are cold water fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, fortified eggs, fortified milk and breast milk. ALA comes from plant foods like nuts and seeds and their oils. It needs an additional metabolic step in order to be absorbed by the body. If your baby is vegan or vegetarian, he may need a supplementation to meet his needs.

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, immunity, as well as reducing risk for chronic and autoimmune conditions. It is not very common in dietary sources, unless foods are fortified. The best way to get enough vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. If your baby is not getting enough sunlight or is dark skinned, he may need a supplementation. American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that all breastfed babies get a daily supplementation of 400IU of vitamin D.

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C – improves iron absorption and supports immune system. Most fruit and vegetables contain plenty of vitamin C.
Vitamin A:
Vitamin A – is important for proper vision and healthy skin. Dairy products, orange and dark green vegetables and fruit are all good sources.

14 super foods, or nutritional superstars, and how to incorporate them into your baby’s diet. 

14 SuperFoods for your baby and how to incorporate them into his diet

14 superfoods for your baby

Food Nutrients Serving suggestions
Avocado Fat, vitamin C
  •  Cut into wedges and serve as finger food
  •  Mash into a puree
Beans and lentils Protein, iron, zinc
  •  Prepare a puree
  •  Offer as a finger food if your baby can use pincer grasp
  •  Mix into patties for finger foods Use in mixed stews and soups
Butter Fats, including DHA and EPA
  • Add to purees or other mixed dishes
  • Serve melted as a dip for finger foods
Cereal, fortified Iron, zinc
  • Mix into purees
  • Use for dusting finger foods
Dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens) Vitamin C, vitamin A, iron
  • Serve tender leaves like spinach raw, as finger food.
  • Cook and puree tougher greens.
  • Use as a single ingredient puree or mix into mixed dishes.
Eggs Fat, protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, zinc, iron
  • Serve boiled or scrambled as a finger food
  • Mash the egg yolk to serve as a puree.
  • Add egg yolk to mixed purees.
Full fat yogurt Protein, fat, vitamin D
  • Feed with a spoon
  • Allow to eat with hands
  • Practice self feeding with a spoon when the baby is interested
Full fat cheese Protein, fat, vitamin D
  • Shred for self feeding as a finger food
  • Melt into mixed dishes
Nut and seed, as butters and powder Protein, fats, including ALA
  • Butter: Spread very thinly on a piece of toast and cut into graspable sticks for an easy finger food
  • Powder: Use to dust finger foods
  • Add to drinks
  • Both: Mix into purees
  • Add into other mixed dishes
Oils Fats, including ALA
  • Add to purees and other mixed dishes
  • Serve as a dip for finger foods
Orange fruit and vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, mango, sweet potato) Vitamin C, vitamin A
  • Serve mango cut into sticks as finger food or puree.
  • Steam, boil or roast carrots, pumpkin or sweet potato and serve as a finger food, single ingredient puree or mix into mixed dishes.
Red meat such as beef, pork and lamb Protein, fat, iron and zinc
  • Make a puree
  • Cook until very soft and use as finger food
  • Use ground meat to make finger foods
Salmon, tuna, sardines and other fatty fish Fats including DHA and EPA, protein
  • Steam or panfry and make a puree.
  • Cook and serve in flakes as finger food
  • Use in mixed dishes
Tofu Iron, protein, fat
  • Serve raw, bake or panfry.
  • Cut into sticks to serve as a finger food.
  • Silken tofu can be mixed into purees.

What do you think about this list?

Did anything surprise you?

Are there any nutritional superstars that are not here? Please share in the comments!

If you would you like me to email this list to you, please sign up below.

Your baby is unique.

So why copy how everyone else is starting solids? Learn the safe and responsive way to start solids using both finger foods and purees.

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