You’ll find a healthy balanced diet contains everything your little one needs. One way to do this is to give them a daily diet made up of various colours of the rainbow – yellow for starchy foods, reds, greens, purples and oranges for vegetables and fruit, and brown for meats and/or legumes (beans and lentils).
If your baby is exclusively or even partially breast-fed, Health Canada recommends that they should have a daily Vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms. Please ask your health professional or pharmacist for advice.
Vitamin A helps build strong bones and teeth, supports night vision and aids healthy skin.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) releases energy from carbohydrate and aids normal growth.
Vitamins B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin) and B6 helps energy, metabolism and the formation of tissue.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects against the damage of free radicals, it also plays a part in building teeth, bones, cartilage and gums.
Vitamin D improves calcium and phosphorus absorption and helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect the fat in body tissues from oxidation.
Free radicals are unstable by-products of the chemical reactions in our body. They are a bit like little black spots which ping around the body causing damage to the surface of cells, proteins and DNA. Antioxidants are vitamins (Vitamin A, C, E) sometimes known as ACE and are the body’s superheroes – fighting the black dots.
Minerals and why your baby needs them
Minerals are split into two types, ones that we need in tiny amounts (trace elements) and ones that we need more of. Examples of trace elements are iron, zinc and selenium. The ones we need more of include calcium, phosphorus and sodium. Minerals have lots of different functions in the body.
Calcium & Phosphorous help build and maintain healthy bones and teeth
Iron helps build red blood cells (see Why your baby needs iron in the nutrition section of our Beginner stage)
Zinc is a factor in energy metabolism and tissue formation
Selenium helps protect against oxidative stress
Magnesium aids in energy metabolism, tissue formation and bone development
Once your child is started on solids it is important to include iron-rich foods in their daily diet.
Effects Of Iron Deficiency
• Iron deficiency anaemia
• Poor appetite
• Poor physical development
• Poor growth
• Irreversible developmental delays in cognitive function
Causes Of Iron Deficiency
• Delayed introduction of iron-rich foods
• Offering cow's milk instead of breast milk or iron-fortified formula (cow's milk is a poor source of iron)
• High fiber diets since fiber 'binds' with iron and can prevent its absorption
• Gastroenteritis and other infections and illnesses
Iron For Every Age
0 to 6 months – Iron is stored in your baby's liver during the last six weeks of pregnancy so premature and low birth weight babies are at risk. Ask your healthcare professional if a supplement is needed.
6 to 12 months – Foods that are high in iron are needed every day. Heinz Rice Cereal has 100% of your baby's daily iron needs and meat is one of the best sources of iron, making it easily absorbed too. You can offer pureed meats from six months and finely chopped or as a finger food for older babies.
Cow's milk is low in iron and Vitamin C and, therefore, is not suitable as a drink until after 12 months. Fruit juices, like Heinz Juices, are high in vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron.
Toddlers and preschoolers – Growth has slowed down but iron is still very important and high-iron foods are needed every day. Heinz Toddler Nutrios have 100% of your toddler and preschooler's daily iron needs.
When can cow's milk be introduced?
Cow's milk is not recommended as baby's main milk drink until 12 months, but cow's milk based foods can be given to your baby after six months as part of solid foods, such as baby cereal with dry skim milk powder.
Why cow's milk as an ingredient only?
If used as an alternative to breast milk or formula, cow's milk does not have the correct balance of nutrients to help your baby grow and develop.
It is too low in iron and also lacks the Vitamin A, C and E and the essential fatty acids necessary for your baby's growth. It can even cause bleeding from the bowel in some babies if their digestive system is not mature enough.
Cow's Milk and AllergiesCow’s milk is one of the priority allergens in Canada, and may cause a severe reaction. Some babies are intolerant to cow's milk but if your baby can tolerate cow's milk-based formula then you should have no problem giving him other dairy foods.
Low Fat Milk
Skim, 1% and 2% milk are not recommended as the main drink for children under two years of age and skim milk is not recommended for children under five. This is because the fat in milk provides a significant proportion of your toddler's energy intake. If reduced fat milk is used as the main drink, it may be difficult to ensure that their total calorie intake is enough to keep them energised.
This advice applies only to the milk which is used as the main drink for your toddler and does not apply to the small amounts of milk used in recipes.