In this post, our in-house paediatrician Sophie explains why babies need fat, what the different types are and how to add healthy fats to your baby's diet.
Why do babies need fat?
Babies need them for their brain development and growth. Until children are two years old, fats should make up to 50% of their daily energy intake.
Older children and adults need a special kind of unsaturated fats, essential fatty acids, for cell renewal and the immune system. Fats also help us absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.
What types of fat are there?
Unsaturated fats: Poly- and monounsaturated fats are usually found in plant-based sources of fats, such as chia seeds, vegetable oils and nuts. They are important for brain, nerve and eye development in infants. In adults, they have also been shown to decrease risk of heart disease and stroke as they increase the “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood. This is why it is a good idea to get your little one used to these foods from early on.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a specific type of unsaturated fat and are especially important for our little ones’ development and growth.
Saturated fats: These fats have a worse reputation than unsaturated fats, as they have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in adults because they raise the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood. They are also often used to enhance the flavour of sweet snacks, which are otherwise low in nutritional value, such as ready-made baked goods. Saturated fats can still be a good source of energy for your baby when given as nutrient-rich foods, such as dairy products or meat.
How do I add fats to my baby’s meals?
Unsaturated fats are found in salmon, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils such as olive oil and avocado.
- Sliced avocado is a popular starter for finger foods
- Steamed salmon can be blended into meals or given as finger food
- A number of Little Tummy meals contain rapeseed oil
Saturated fats are present in meat and dairy products as well as coconut oil.
- Meatballs are easy to make and loved by children
- Yoghurts are a great snack in between main meals
- Try one of our breakfast pots