Fat has a bad reputation. But at Mamamade, we love healthy fats for babies in moderation!
We all need fats in our diet - especially weaning babies and toddlers.
As you may have guessed though, not all fats are equal. The key is not avoiding fats, but making sure your baby or toddler is getting the right kind of healthy fats. But which fats are ‘good’, and which are ‘bad’? Is it okay to add butter to a baby’s food? And perhaps most importantly - is there such a thing as too much avocado?
We’ve put together everything you need to know about healthy fats for babies and toddlers, so you can feed your baby or toddler with confidence.
Why do babies and toddlers need fat?
Any parent will know how active babies and toddlers can be. They need their energy, that’s for sure!
Fat is an important source of energy for all humans. We need it in our diet.
If a baby or toddler misses out on fat, they also miss out on important vitamins which get absorbed by fats. These include:
Vitamin A – for vision, bone development, immunity and healthy skin
Vitamin D – to absorb calcium, promote bone development and to regulate cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and reduces inflammation
Vitamin E – an antioxidant which helps protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, helps to maintain healthy skin, eyes and strengthens the immune system
Vitamin K – promotes blood clotting and wound healing and helps maintain healthy bones
Then there are also the essential fatty acids which all babies and toddlers need, that can only be acquired through food.
Fats are vital for babies in everything from helping their brain to function properly to helping them reach their full growth potential.
What are the different types of fats?
We speak to lots of qualified nutritionists at Mamamade during the development of our recipes, and so we can offer the best advice to our community. Nutritionists will tell you that there are 5 main types of fat:
The ‘good’ fats
- polyunsaturated fat - found in fruits and vegetables like olives, nuts and avocados
- monounsaturated fat - same as above
- omega-3 fatty acids - found in fish and hemp seeds
The ‘bad’ fats
- saturated fat - found in butter, cheese and meat
- trans-fat - processed foods
Okay, so what healthy fats should I feed my baby or toddler?
If your child is under the age of two, most health experts recommend that half of their calories should come from healthy fats. If you’re breastfeeding then you don’t need to worry as breastmilk is naturally high in fat, but if your baby is on solids then these are some of the foods we recommend!
Olives and organic extra virgin olive oil
Using olive oil in small amounts (1tsp is usually enough!) when cooking instead of butter is a great way of including healthy fats in your baby or toddler’s diet.
Olives themselves (cut in half to avoid choking) are also a great snack option and filled with vitamin E, iron, copper and calcium. Let your toddler try one and see what they think!
Oily fish 🐟
Oily fish is a great source of essential fats such as DHA, EPA and AA. These are fats that babies, toddlers and adults can’t make in their own bodies, so we need to get them through our food! These essential fats are particularly important for brain, nerve and eye development for infants.
You can choose 1 portion of salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies or trout per week to make sure your little one is getting their essential fatty acids!
Avocados & avocado oil 🥑
Avocados are one of the best sources of mono-unsaturated (healthy, to me and you!) fats. They also have the highest protein content of any fruit, making them a clear winner! They can be mashed up on toast for a toddler breakfast or snack, or mixed in some pasta to make a delicious creamy sauce!
Avocado oil is also a great choice for cooking food for older babies and toddlers. Adding this ingredient helps your baby or toddler to absorb other nutrients!
Try our Hearty Vegetable and Quinoa baby food, which contains avocado oil.
Nuts and nut butter 🥜
It’s a good idea to introduce your baby to a range of nuts during weaning. This has been proven to lower the risk of a child developing allergies by the age of 5.
As they’re a choking hazard, it’s best not to give your baby whole nuts, so try with a little bit of peanut butter on toast and wait to see if there’s any reaction.
Read our blog post on Introducing Peanut Butter To Babies.
Flat and chia seeds
Flax and chia seeds are both rich in fibre and essential fats known as omega 3s. These seeds are great additions to breakfast porridge mixes.
Try our Raspberry, Amaranth and Flaxseed baby food mix, or Spring Greens and Chia Baby Meal.
Should I feed my baby butter? Or cheese? 🧀
A small amount of saturated or trans fats here and there are unlikely to harm your baby. But it’s best to avoid these ingredients and make sure your child is getting their fats from as many healthy sources as possible.So we’re not saying “No! Never!” - we’re saying not too much, or too often!
Promoting healthy eating from a young age will have long-lasting benefits for your child and their relationship with food.
Got more question about baby weaning and toddler foods? Join our Facebook community, Mamamates, where you can ask questions and share tips and advice with other like-minded parents.
As always, Mamamade are here to support parents on their weaning journey. If you’re moving onto solids, or are finding it hard to find the time to make your baby homemade food, then try one of our baby food subscription boxes.