Preparing for pregnancy with a healthy diet
Whether you’re planning your first baby or you’re thinking about having another, a healthy diet makes good sense for both you and your partner. Your eating, weight and lifestyle habits have a significant influence on your health, your fertility and once you’ve become pregnant on the growth and development of your unborn baby.
Now is a great time to reassess your diet and to check that you are eating a wide variety of healthy foods. You need to have a good balance between starchy carbohydrate foods; moderate amounts of protein foods; low fat dairy products and plenty of fruits and vegetables. A healthy balanced diet should supply you with all the nutrients you need, but one vitamin that is particularly important pre-conceptually and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is folic acid and so you should take extra folic acid (400mcg/day) in the form of a supplement during this time.
There are also a couple of other nutrients that need special attention at this time. You should make sure you’re eating enough iron-rich foods to build up your body stores in preparation for your pregnancy, so include red meat, fish, poultry, beans, dark green leafy vegetables and wholegrain cereals regularly. Omega 3 fatty acids play a critical role in the development of the brain and nervous system of a baby so it is a good idea to top up your stores of these too by eating two portions of fish per week (at least one of these portions as oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel).
Both you and your partner should reduce your alcohol intakes in line with official recommendations and aim for a healthy weight. Being a healthy body weight can help you to conceive – being very underweight or obese can reduce your chances of conceiving, and being obese while pregnant can increase the risk of complications. And for your partner, it is worth checking the diet contains enough zinc and selenium containing foods as these have been shown to be linked with sperm quality. Lean red meat, wholegrain cereals, seafood and eggs are good sources of these nutrients.
If you want to read more, here are two good links which you may find useful:
Until next time....
Tags: carbohydrates, dairy, healthy, iron, minerals, obesity, pregnant, prepare, preparing for baby to arrive, supplements, vitamins, zinc
Dairy for babies
Recently I have been asked by confused mums why, even though their health visitor has told them to avoid giving dairy products until baby is at least 6 months, there are baby food jars labelled as suitable from 4 months when they contain cow’s milk and cheese. Also, if cow’s milk isn’t suitable as a drink until a year of age, is it really safe for inclusion in weaning foods anyway?
Of course, weaning shouldn’t be started until baby is ready for solids, usually around 6 months and definitely not before 4 months of age. If baby is ready at 4 months, however, cow’s milk and other dairy products such as small amounts of cheese, yogurt, fromage frais and milk-based dishes can be used in weaning foods from the start and there is no reason to suggest otherwise. The foods that you should avoid giving before 6 months are shown at the link below:
Previously, concerns about including these ingredients in weaning foods were based on their potential to cause allergic reactions. However, recent statements by the British Dietetic Association Paediatric Group and other specialists in Europe and the United States have highlighted that current evidence indicates that there is in fact no need to delay the introduction of certain potentially allergenic foods e.g. milk, cheese, yogurts, egg, fish, wheat, gluten, until a certain age as doing so will not reduce the likelihood of allergies developing.
Remember that cow’s milk shouldn’t be given as baby’s main drink until 1 year of age as it doesn’t contain enough iron and other nutrients to meet baby’s needs. Breast milk or an infant or follow on formula should be given up until this age. Toddlers can be introduced to cow’s milk from year as they should be able to get enough iron from other foods in the diet, but if you are concerned about their intake of iron from foods then continued use of formula or introduction of a Growing up Milk can be very reassuring.
Bye for now.
Tags: dairy, cheese, yogurt, fromage frais, babies, baby, breast feeding, eating, drinks, gluten, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, iron, milk
Categories: Baby development, Milk feeding, Weaning
Is a vegetarian diet safe for your baby?
In a recent Food Standards Agency survey, 5% of over 2000 adults surveyed claimed to be vegetarian or vegan, with women more likely to follow a vegetarian/vegan diet than men (6% vs 3%). Perhaps no surprises here, but how many parents want to wean their babies onto a vegetarian diet and is this a safe way of feeding?
I don’t know the answer to the first part of the question – I don’t think there is any accurate data to put a % to the number of babies being weaned as vegetarians. But I do know that babies and children can grow and develop normally on a vegetarian diet, provided extra attention is given to the foods they eat to make sure their nutritional needs are met. Vegetarian diets can be high in fibre, leading to lower energy intakes and reduced absorption of some important minerals, such as iron and zinc. You will need to make sure that there are alternative sources of iron in the diet if meat is excluded, so include foods such as pulses, beans, green leafy vegetables, and offer vitamin C from fruit, vegetables or fruit juices with every meal to improve iron absorption.
Vegan diets, on the other hand, can’t easily give babies all the nutrition they need and so these diets aren’t recommended for young babies, but if you are certain this is what you want for your baby you should definitely speak to a dietitian first.
All children between 6 months – 5 years who are following a vegetarian diet should be given vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D. Vegan children additionally need vitamin B12.
If you would like to read more about weaning your baby onto a vegetarian diet, have a look at the link below:
What are your thoughts on babies being given vegetarian diets? Let me know.
Tags: baby, eating, food, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, nutrition, organic, vitamins, weaning, vegetarian, vegan, fibre, iron, zinc, pulses, vitamin C
Categories: Baby development, Weaning
Getting enough iron in baby's diet
Did you know that the iron stores
babies are born with are often depleted by around 6 months of age? Unless the diet contains enough iron to replenish these stores babies and young children will be at risk of becoming iron deficient? Anaemia (iron deficiency) is particularly a problem when weaning onto a mixed diet is delayed and large volumes of milk continue to be given at 8 months of age and beyond. Formula fed babies are likely to have their iron stores better preserved than breastfed babies, with the problem arising with babies receiving 6 or more breastfeeds per day or cow’s milk instead of formula as their main milk drink.
Too much milk and iron deficiency levels in babies
For all babies, a variety of iron-containing weaning foods should be introduced from the age of 6 months to safeguard against iron deficiency. Meat and poultry-containing weaning foods can in fact be given from the start of weaning (before 6 months if babies are starting between 4-6 months), although often parents will choose to give cereal and fruit/vegetable based foods first. The iron found in meat, poultry and fish (known as ‘haem iron’) is better absorbed than the iron found in fortified cereals, vegetables, beans and pulses, so it makes sense to introduce these haem iron-rich foods as soon as possible. To help with the absorption of the ‘non haem iron’ found in these other foods it is important to serve foods containing vitamin C at the s
ame meal. Alternatively, there are a selection of manufactured baby foods like HiPP Organic foods containing meat or poultry that can be used at different stages of weaning to boost iron intakes. Have you got any good weaning recipes containing meat or poultry that you would like to share? We’d love to hear from you!
Bye for now! - Helen
Tags: HiPP Organic, baby, born, iron, eating, recipe, weaning, food, nutrition, Helen
Categories: About Hipp Organic, Baby development, Milk feeding, Weaning