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Toddler Tooth Care

Toddler Tooth Care

The Lowdown on Toddler Tooth care by Caroline at AVIDIVA

That first glimmer of white usually appears between the ages of 6 and 10 months. Although some bubs are even born with a tooth or two, and others won’t crack their first until after their first birthday. Between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, our bubbas will gain all 20 of their teeth!! Eeeeeep, yep 20! It’s a good job we can’t remember this stage when we grow up, as teething is SO not fun (for mum or baby). The sore gums, endless drool, irritability, upset tummies, rashy chins and bums, restlessness… it’s not nice to see your little one so uncomfortable.

Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw. These teeth can appear out of the gums in any order they like, but often you will see the two middle bottom teeth (central incisors) pop up first. Last to come in are the molars at the back. This set of baby teeth are then replaced with 32 adult teeth from around the age of 6.

Infographic credit: Mamanatural.com

Along with the pain and sleeplessness of teething come a few questions about how to care for these little teeth now they are here. We’ve done our research and have compiled a bunch of answers for you lovely:

Should I be cleaning gums before any teeth have even come through?

Yes! You can use a clean damp cloth to just wipe over the gums to clear away any harmful bacteria. If they are teething, they will love the pressure on the gums. Plus, it gets baby use to the idea of teeth cleaning and you sticking something in their mouth… #winning

How often should I brush their teeth?

Same as with adults, these baby teeth need cleaning twice a day – in the morning after breakfast and before bed, after dinner.

What should I do to clean them

Brush the inside and outside of their teeth, as well as their tongue, if they will let you! No need to worry about flossing at this age (only when teeth start to touch, and the brush can’t get in between them).

What should I use?

An age appropriate brush is perfect (you may even be able to find their favourite cartoon or character on a brush!). Look for a small oval head, soft bristles, and short, cushioned, non-slip handle. Just using this brush with water is fine until they are 18 months old. From then on, you can use a rice size amount of low-fluoride toothpaste (increasing to pea-sized amount at around 3 years old)

Manual or Electric?

This is up to personal preference after the age of 3… Electric brushes are pretty fun, this toothbrush even plays a song and has a 2-minute timer so they know how long to brush for. Plus, if mummy and daddy use one then they will probably want to have a go at electric too! They can also give a better clean compared to manual brushes… but really, it’s up to you (or let’s be honest, it’s up to your kid!)

Fluoride or no fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that helps teeth grow strong. It also prevents tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to acids and harmful bacteria.. It is best in small quantities i.e. in the water we drink, foods, and low-fluoride toothpaste. Most tap water in Australia has very low amounts of added fluoride (your local authority will be able to tell you the levels). If children take in too much fluoride, it can cause fluorosis, which is a build-up of fluoride, resulting in white marks on the teeth. Best to keep the levels down until they are old enough to rinse and spit. For under 18 months toothpaste is not actually needed, unless a dentist advises otherwise. From 18 months, a low fluoride toothpaste is recommended. You can also find fluoride free toothpastes if you are concerned with the levels. These are also available in fruity flavours if your little one isn’t a fan of the minty options!

Who should be doing the brushing?

Most likely they will want to ‘help’ i.e. do it themselves!! You can give them a toothbrush to hold while you brush their teeth. At around 2 years old, they can likely have a go themselves but always be sure to ‘check’ for them 😉 When they are around 8 years old you can probably trust they will do a good enough job on their own, but below that age you will want to supervise and ensure they are not swallowing toothpaste and doing a thorough job.

How do I fit it into our busy routines?

Kids love a routine, they know what’s coming next and it helps them feel safe and secure. As much as it may feel like a chore (and it’s not always easy, cleaning little teeth!), stick to the plan and be sure to get it done each morning and night. That way, there will be much less wiggle room (quite literally!)

When do they need to see the dentist?

It’s a good habit to get into when they are young, so it becomes part of their normal routine, and not something they dread! Take them along to the dentist when they are around 1, or 6 months after their first tooth appears. From them on, regular check ups will help keep their teeth in healthy condition and the dentist can offer advice with any issues they may be having.

How can I make it fun?

Depending on what your kid likes, there are a few ways to get the job done: - For the young ones, a toothbrush for them to hold is a must have - Also them seeing themselves in the mirror can be a good distraction - You can set a timer so they know how long you will be brushing for (also a good visual distraction). This can be a traditional egg timer or simply from an app on your phone. - A song is always a good way to get the brushing happening and also some distraction too. Have a selection they can pick from, sing, or play it and they know that the teeth brushing happens for the duration of the song - Pretending to ‘roar’ like a dinosaur, toot like a train, or get them to say their alphabet… anything they like that will get them making the right shapes to get in all the nooks and crannies! - You can always bring up a you tube video or short clip of a favourite show, song, or even kids brushing their teeth as a bit of entertainment

What about foods?

As we know, sugary foods can cause tooth decay and erode enamel and cause cavities. The main culprits are juices, lollies, dried fruit, etc. These foods are best avoided in babies and toddlers under 2 years of age. If you decide to serve these types of food before 2, it's best to give bubs a big drink of water to rinse the sugar from their teeth. This helps the sugar not sit on the teeth for too long.

What about bedtime bottles?

As comforting as a bedtime bottle is, these liquids then just feed on bacteria in the mouth and cause tooth decay. This can lead to a condition called ‘bottle mouth’ where the front teeth are discoloured, pitted and cavities may develop. This is true for milk, formula or juice, and even sweetened medicines. So best avoided as soon as you can break the habit.

So there you have it, our toothcare lowdown! I hope this helps you and your littles on your teething journey.

Author Bio

Caroline is a Perth mum to two premmie babes now 1 and 4 years old. With tricky starts to life for both (and to motherhood!), Caroline has researched, tried and tested many natural, organic products to find those that are good for her babes and the environment too. Her biz, Avidiva, showcases her passion for stylish, but natural goodies and gifts.

 

We have been busy researching, trying and testing and are proud to bring you some of the best teething products, home hacks and tips in the biz. We’re super excited to be launching our exclusive range of natural, low tox teething survival kits. To find out more join the VIP pre-launch party to receive exclusive discounts, offers and teething freebies. You can find us on Facebook and @avidivababy on Instagram or swing by the site at www.avidiva.com.au.  

The Ultimate Teething Survival Kit Sneak Peak

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Brocolli Trees? Yes Please! Q&A with Melissa Kent

Brocolli Trees? Yes Please!

Q & A with Melissa Kent

 

Introducing author, Melissa Kent! She has written a fab new children’s book that helps make eating healhty food, fun! We have been lucky enough to talk to her about her journey & inspiration. She has also shared some great healthy eating tips & recipe advice. 

Melissa's story

I am a 33 year old mother of 3 children aged 4, 8 and 10. Originally from North Queensland, my family and I moved to South East Queensland in late 2016 due to my youngest child’s numerous health conditions and the need to be closer to her medical specialists. My biggest achievement in life was becoming a Mother. Which is an ever-evolving labour of love, as I’m sure you can relate!  After my youngest child was born, and we started the journey that is life with a chronically ill child. I knew that I needed to do something that was just for me and nobody else, in order to preserve my sanity.

I have always been an extremely creative person, and find that I express myself best through my writing and music. So, when my youngest child was 6 months old, I wrote my first book ‘Broccoli Trees? Yes Please!’ which was published late 2017.  Childhood nutrition, obesity, non-communicable diseases and fussy eating is all on the rise and I wanted to find a really fun and innovative way to help our young children and of course their parents, who often find mealtimes a cause of great distress.

Question 1 - Have you found your book has helped with fussy eaters?

I have been so overwhelmed and overjoyed with the response to my book! Before it went to print, I told my Publisher that if I could help just one single family with mealtime stress and fussy eating issues I would be happy and consider my job done. The amount of positive feedback I’ve had from some parents of truly fussy eaters has honestly reduced me to tears. I am so happy that it’s helping so many families, and bringing smiles to little (and big) faces around the world.

Question 2 - What advice would you give someone with a toddler that is on a veggie strike?

My biggest piece of advice would be to take a deep breath and completely remove the pressure – from both your child/children and yourself. It is SO easy to get caught up in a stressful battle of the wills with a fussy toddler at meal times. Unfortunately, the harder we push them, the more they refuse. It just turns into a perpetual cycle of stress and tears, where the only winner is the family dog, or the scrap bin! Always offer healthy food, and encourage your child to explore their food through imagination, texture and play. Find some age appropriate nutritional facts relating to the various foods you are presenting them. (eg. “Did you know that walnuts look like a brain and the healthy fats in them make them awesome food for brain power!”) Keep it light hearted at meal times to keep stress levels down, which will mean they will be more likely to try something new!

Question 3 - What’s your go-to meal that gives a good veggie hit?

My kids love anything with roast veggies… roasting makes everything taste so much better! But for an easy dish that packs a good veggie hit, I think you can’t go past fried rice! I start by sautéing some onion, garlic and ginger then add diced bacon and chicken (or tofu if you are vegetarian) and brown that off before adding your other veggies – carrot, capsicum, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, peas and corn, then add your cooked rice, a good dash of tamari or coconut aminos and some more oil. The best thing about fried rice is it’s so versatile – you can really branch out from the authentic version and add things like coconut cream, whatever veggies you have on hand or even replace your rice with buckwheat or cauliflower rice. I always like to mix my white rice with black rice which packs a huge protein and antioxidant punch!

Books for fussy esting toddlers

Of course, I think that incorporating ‘Broccoli Trees? Yes Please!’ into your story time routine is also fantastic, but don’t introduce it mid-mealtime tantrum!  Instead, read it with your child when they are relaxed and ready for some light-hearted fun, which is what the book is all about!  Remember, repetition is key, so always offer a variety of healthy foods at meal times and keep ‘Broccoli Trees’ on regular story time rotation to really maximise your chances of ending that veggie strike once and for all!  

 
 
 
 
 

grabease blog special

If you love the idea of teaching your children about nutritious eating and want to get yourself a copy of Brocolli Trees? Yes Please!  Melissa has provided a coupon code for FREE SHIPPING until August 19th, 2018.

Just enter the code grabease at checkout. 

If you want to get an even better deal and buy a multi-pack, you can contact melissa directly on contact@melissakentauthor.com or jump over to her facebook page or Instagram

Brocolli trees? Yes Please! interview

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Raspberry and Orange Vitamin C Gummies

Raspberry and Orange
Vitamin C Gummies

by Jen Thomson of Naked Paleo

Change of seasons always bring about runny noses, coughs and sore throats and it’s important to support your body as best you can BEFORE those things set in, especially if you are around people who are sick a lot. Increasing your daily vitamin C is a really good way to support your immune system and getting it from real food sources is perfect. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron so if you struggle with keeping your iron levels up, not having enough vitamin C in your diet could be the issue.

Gut issues are also a leading cause of sickness. If your gut isn’t happy, we usually see a snowball effect, which can be hard to come back from. Gelatin is a great healer of the gut. Adding it to your diet on a daily basis either in gummies or bone broths can be an easy way to help promote a health gut. The amino acids found in gelatin are anti-inflammatory which helps to heal any inflammation in your gut, helping increase digestive secretions and promote everything to function smoother. For more info, check out my original Turmeric, Mango and Coconut Gummies post.

Lucky for us all, gummies are particularly Insta-worthy so make sure you tag us in your creations and let’s get those immune systems on full alert.

Jen xx

 

Makes 10-15 depending on the size of your moulds

Paleo, GF, DF, RSF, High protein

Prep time + tidy up: 10 mins

Cook time: 4 hours fridge to set

 

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1 cup plus 1/2 cup fresh or high quality bottled orange juice

4 tbsp grass fed gelatin powder (this may vary depending on your brand). We like this one and this one.

optional –

1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

2 drops lemon essential oil and 2 drops orange essential oil. We use these essential oils.

Method:

In a bowl add 1/2 cup orange juice and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Mix together a little and set aside to bloom*

In a saucepan over a medium heat, add the raspberries and the remainder of the orange juice and heat until just simmering, breaking up the raspberries. Remove from heat.

Taste and decide if you would like to add some sweetener. I like to keep these tangy.

Add your bloomed gelatin and whisk gently until it’s completely dissolved.

If you want to add essential oils, add them now, one drop at a time and taste them as you go. A little goes a long way. And please ensure they are suitable for internal use. If you’re unsure, please just send me an email!

Pour the liquid into moulds and place in the fridge to set. If you don’t have moulds (or don’t want to use them) just pour into a glass dish and once it’s set, remove and cut.

Tip: If you have fussy kids who don’t like pulp and seeds, you can run the liquid through a fine sieve before pouring into moulds to set in the fridge.

*To let gelatin bloom, means adding it to some water or whatever liquid you are using in the recipe. It will absorb the water and be easy to dissolve into the warm mixture without a grainy texture.

About the Author

Meet Jen Thomson. A former personal trainer, turned paleo convert, Jen, along with her husband Blake created the perfect paleo snacks with their brand, Naked Paleo. Naked Paleo was born from sweet cravings and the encouragement of family and friends to make her delicious recipes readily available. If you love this recipe, Jen has loads more on her blog and instagram. Make sure you jump over and check them out, you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can order her delicious bars online.  

If you love getting recipes straight to your inbox, make sure you scroll down and subscribe for more baby-friendly goodness like our Overnight Oats recipe. 

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – Introducing food to a toddler with special needs

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Introducing food to a toddler with special needs

~ By Rose Anne Hughson

We've all heard that food before one is just for fun.....

but what if it's always a battle instead?

Dropped (or thrown) food, mess, refusal to eat – and everyone else’s child seems to be happily eating everything in sight! 

What if they still don’t eat at 1.. or 2… or 3… When an ASD diagnosis comes it either bowls you over or everything clicks into place. It explains so much about the WHY, but you still don’t have the information you need on HOW to get your child to eat anything nutritious!

When you have a toddler refusing to eat it’s time to take a deep breath and give control back to your child. Yes, we hate mess but exploring food is an important developmental phase for little ones. In younger children, it’s the result of learning to control and coordinate food. In older toddlers it’s for cause and effect. There is so much to explore when it comes to food (whether it’s the noise it makes or the textures… or making Mummy scream “noooooo!” as she tries to catch a bowl of spaghetti). Believe it or not, when toddlers play with their food it can help them to become better eaters!

Luckily there are things we can do to make meal times easier.

Give them their independence

Small people love being independent, taking that away can make them anxious. Let them feed themselves and they can explore their food and develop more confidence with food.

Take a step back

If you're anxious the chance of your child picking that up is very high - even if you think you're hiding it well. If your child sees your anxiety they're going to think meal time is stressful and won't be as receptive to new food.

Get appropriate utensils

You need toddler cutlery with a choke guard if that's something that worries you. Grabease has a great choke guard so you don't have to worry about how far in the fork goes. Get a shorter handle. If your child can't hold their fork it's going to fall and that's going to make a mess. Grabease utensils have a short, ergonomic handle that helps with motor skills and is easier to hold for babies, toddlers and those who need to strengthen their fine motor control. The handles actually strengthen the finger muscles that your child needs for drawing, writing and holding their toys, making life easier as they meet other developmental milestones.

Give small portions and top up if they need more.

Your child's tummy is tiny and maybe that huge pile of food is really intimidating and offputing straight away! Your child might need their food to not touch each other to start. Get in touch with Little Bites and I can help you find out the first step for your child to make dinner time a stress-free and fun family time.

Be consistent.

Giving a piece of toast because your child didn't touch their nutritious dinner, teaches them that there are other options without even trying. Follow your Little Bites strategies and have the same rules everyday. Children, especially those with an Autism diagnosis, thrive on routine, knowing your expectations and having boundaries. It's much easier for them to know what's happening next and what's going to happen if they try to push those boundaries.

About the author

Rose Anne Hughson founded Little Bites after seeing the results her strategies yielded while working to expand the diets of extremely selective eaters in special schools.

“I loved seeing them thrive and enjoy the tasting sessions, and thought to myself, ‘If these extremely selective eaters can learn to enjoy new food, other children with food struggles could too’”.

Rose Anne has been working with children with various food aversions, including severe anxiety around trying different foods, for several years, both in the UK and New Zealand. She loves being able to help children overcome their fear of new foods, tastes, textures and colours, Little Bite by Little Bite.

 

Check Little Bites out on Facebook or Instagram now! 

You can also click the image below to go straight to the website to read more.

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Introducing Allergenic Foods to Babies

Introducing allergenic foods to babies

There has always been a lot of hype and speculation around introducing allergenic foods to babies such as eggs and peanuts. Recently, the guidelines have changed significantly and understandably there is a lot of confusion amongst parents as to when is the right time, and how to do it.

I often get asked by parents what is best, and so I am delighted to have the chance to write a guest blog all about this topic for Grabease!

By Caroline Partridge

What did we use to do?

Until recently, parents were told to delay introducing their children to foods such as egg and peanuts. Some people even suggested not introducing nuts until after the age of 5. There were concerns around choking, and beliefs that waiting until the child was older would mean that they were less likely to develop an allergy.

How do I give my baby nuts?

So what changed?

Basically, new evidence came to light. A lot of time and money was put into studying why there was suddenly such a rise in the incidence of childhood allergy. In Australia, 1 in 10 kids under the age of 1 have a food allergy. That number is shocking.

In working to discover why the rate of allergies had risen so fast, questions were asked and researched about what had changed. As well as about the guidelines suggesting waiting to introduce allergenic foods.

The new studies show a decreased likelihood of allergy in children who tried egg and peanuts under the age of 1. Once this evidence was reported, further research was undertaken, and subsequently, the infant feeding guidelines were updated by ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy)

The new guidelines?

The guidelines now suggest giving foods such as egg, tree nuts and peanuts to children between 6 and 10 months of age. Whole nuts pose a risk of choking and so should not be given. Nut butters are a great alternative and remove this choking risk. Egg should be well cooked, not raw.

First foods?

My favourite first foods to give to baby are meat and eggs. After 6 months of age, infants, particularly those that are still exclusively breastfed can become deficient in iron and zinc. These foods are great sources of these minerals. They can be pureed, or served in suitable sized chunks for baby-led weaning also.

A few tips!

  • Earlier in the day for trying new foods means less chance of a sleepless night
  • Just try one new food at a time, then if something happens you will know where to start
  • Give each new food at least 3 days before moving on to the next, a reaction may not happen on the first 1 or 2 tries
  • Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of allergic reactions, allergy.org.au is an amazing resource

Caroline Partridge is the Aussie Allergy Mum, a fun-loving mum of two girls, who lives the allergy life daily and wants to help make the journey as easy as possible for others.

introducing allergenic foods to babies written by aussie allergy mum Allergy blogger Australia

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Fuss-Free Mealtimes with Toddlers – 7 Easy Tips

7 Easy Tips

for

fuss-Free
Mealtimes

written by Tracey Davidson

Getting toddlers to eat at meal time can be no mean feat! They tend to be stubborn and often refuse to try new foods, which can be rather frustrating for their parents. We’ve all been there, so here are 7 simple tips to try for fuss-free mealtimes. Hopefully making dining more fun and encourage them to eat more (or a wider variety) in the process.

#1

Involve them in Preparation/Cooking

meal prep Grabease Fuss-free mealtimes

From as young as toddlers, there are age-appropriate tasks you can get kids to do to help prepare meals. Younger kids especially like helping and like to be given jobs. This can often lead them to being more likely to eat the food if they ‘made’ it. Simply helping with washing vegetables or placing salad into a bowl gives them that sense of achievement.

#2

make a food rainbow

food rainbow Grabease Fuss-free mealtimes

Toddlers are very visual creatures. The more appealing the food presented to them looks, the more likely they will be to eat it! Mix fruit and veggies on a platter in the colour order/shape of a rainbow. This is also a fun activity to practice learning colours. Encourage them to try at least one thing from each colour.

#3

Use a Fun Plate or Utensils

Emondo kids and Grabease Fuss-free mealtimes

Toddlers are wired to play. Have you ever noticed how throwing food on the floor suddenly becomes a game for them? Try making food more fun by using a novel plate (like these bamboo Aussie animal plates) or with their own cutlery that encourages independent eating, such as  grabease. This also gives them the autonomony they crave, while hopefully getting them to eat well!

#4

Cut it into Fun Shapes

lunch cutters and Grabease Fuss-free mealtimes

Using food cutters can entice even the fussiest eaters to try something new. Who can resist a dinosaur sandwich? Look for cutters that are in shapes of things they like and use that to cut up sandwiches with healthy fillings. Even simply cutting fruit. They’re also great to use for party food!

#5

Make a Smoothie Instead

smoothies and Grabease Fuss-free mealtimes

A lot of goodness can be packed (hidden) in a smoothie, so why not substitute a main meal for a smoothie from time to time? You can add veggies, protein powder or other powders (such as super greens powder) and include a couple of serves of fruit in a tasty drink. You could even get them to help you make it. Another tip for summer is to freeze smoothies in icy pole moulds and use the grabease utensils as handles for little hands. A great healthy, tasty treat!

#6

Pack it into a Bento Box

yumbox and Grabease Fuss-free mealtimes

Another novel way of serving a meal is in a bento lunch box. Kids love them! They can pick and choose what to eat. You can actually fit a lot into them (more than you might think). They are super handy for meals on the go, but you could incorporate it into a backyard picnic or even serve dinner in it for something different. We love the Yumbox lunchboxes as they’re leak-proof and can be cleaned in the dishwasher! Don’t forget to include your grabease in the yumbox as they fit perfectly in its compartments.

#7

serve toddler-friendly snacks and food​

healthy snacks and Grabease Fuss-free mealtimes

Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to make toddler meal-time as fuss-free as possible! Making mini muffins or cookies that are packed with nutrients, but look like treats, can be one way to get them eating better. The Adventure Snacks range of baking mixes contain only wholesome ingredients, and some have hidden veggies in them, so you can make (with your toddler) healthy little snacks they will love to eat.

written by Adventures snacks fuss-free mealtimes

About the Author

Tracey is a mum and owner of Adventure Snacks – a business she started when her son was a toddler and she couldn’t find nutritious, convenient snacks on supermarket shelves. She created a range of organic baking mixes which are perfect for toddlers and school lunchboxes; with the added bonus of being able to freeze the snacks once made, so you always have healthy snacks on hand! You can find out more at the links below:

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Baby Led Weaning & Meeting Iron Requirements

Baby Led Weaning and Meeting Iron Requirements

Thinking about Baby Led Weaning for your bub, but worried about them getting enough iron? Read on for a nutritionist’s view…

We know that iron is important, after all it helps with cognitive development and building a strong immune system. But one of the biggest concerns parents have when introducing solids is whether bubs will get enough iron. Especially when doing Baby Led Weaning (BLW). But can BLW provide enough iron? The short answer is ‘yes it can’. Here’s how…

Baby Led Weaning & Meeting Iron Requirements Brussel Sprouts

Increased needs.

Yes, it’s true that babies have an increased requirement for iron once they reach 6 months. Their own iron stores, built up during the late stages of pregnancy, have started to run low. This doesn’t happen overnight, but from around 6 months their needs do increase. Although there is iron in breastmilk, it is a smaller amount than that found in formula. However, it is much more highly absorbedaround 50% absorbed vs 10% [1]. So, all babies still receive some iron from their breastmilk and formula, but from 6 months they need a little extra from the foods you introduce to them – which is why solids are also known as ‘complimentary foods’.

But how much do they need, and where should they get it from to ensure they get enough?

Baby Led Weaning & Meeting Iron Requirements Beans

Not every baby is the same.

It’s important to remember this, and it is as relevant for iron levels as it is for hitting milestones. Just like the variations from baby to baby in how many teeth they have at 6 months and what age they start sitting unassisted, their needs for iron vary too. This depends on things like their mother’s iron status before and especially during pregnancy (and afterwards if breastfed); if they have been formula fed (as formula is fortified to varying degrees); if they were born prematurely; and if they had a low birth weight.

Baby Led Weaning & Meeting Iron Requirements broccoli

Is your baby getting enough iron?

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a concern for parents, as iron is a critical nutrient for brain development and IDA could lead to poor neurodevelopment [2]. But did you know that excess iron may have an adverse effect on growth? So, it is important to be like Goldilocks and find the amount that is ‘just right’ – don’t feel you need to jump straight to supplementation.

The babies at risk of IDA are those who were born prematurely (since babies’ iron stores build in the last few months of pregnancy), those with a low birth weight even if born full-term, and those whose mothers had very low iron or poor nutritional status during pregnancy. For these babies, I would recommend parents speak to their GP/paediatrician for advice specific to their circumstances.

 

So, how much iron does a full-term, healthy-weight baby need?

 The average iron intake from age 0-6 months is 0.2 mg/day (based on breastmilk consumption). The estimated average requirement from age 7-12 months is 7 mg/day, whilst the recommended daily intake is 11 mg/day [3], which equates to 500g of lean beef mince! Whilst their requirement doesn’t make this huge jump overnight, it is a big increase to work up to as quickly as possible. Which is why it is important to include as many iron-rich foods throughout the day as possible, and BLW is a great way to do this.

The best sources of iron for BLW.

If you’ve decided to skip the iron-fortified baby cereal (which has low absorption rates anyway), you may be wondering where their iron is going to come from now. The top sources of iron [4, 5] are:

  • Meats: beef, lamb, pork, veal, liver (including pate), chicken, turkey – strips that they can hold and suck on are a great place to start, as well as softly cooked mince and slow cooked meats. Fish is also a good option – tuna, sardines, salmon etc.
  • Eggs: egg yolk is high in iron, but serve whole so baby receives the whole nutrition from the egg – serve scrambled, medium-boiled and sliced lengthways, or omelette strips.
  • Vegetables: potato, sweet potato, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green peas, beans, spinach*.
  • Nuts & seeds: almonds and cashews (as nut butters, not whole due to their choking risk!), sesame seeds (in the form of tahini – try baking veggies in a coating of tahini mixed with a little water).
  • Legumes: kidney beans, black beans, butter/lima beans, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas – cooked until softened so easier to digest; a great tool to practice that pincer grip! Natural peanut butter is another good source.
  • Other: hummus, blackstrap molasses, quinoa, tofu – great sources of iron.

*Spinach is high in oxalic acid so, to err on the side of caution, wait until 8-10 months before introducing spinach to your baby. Oxalic acid reduces the absorption of iron, but can be reduced by cooking, so serve spinach cooked not raw. It is unclear whether baby spinach has lower oxalic acid levels than mature spinach, so again, best to serve it cooked, and in small quantities, until baby is older (8 months plus).

What does 7mg of Iron per day look like?

Whilst I don’t believe in stressing about numbers, it’s useful to know that we are aiming for at least 7 mg per day and what this might look like in food terms: one egg, two tablespoons of beef mince, one tablespoon of kidney beans, one tablespoon of almond butter, one tablespoon of hummus, half a cup of potato, half a cup of broccoli, and one tablespoon of tahini. It’s a lot of food, but remember this is an average requirement for ages 7-12-month olds – 12-month olds will need more iron and food than 7-month olds so you will work up to this amount gradually. The great news is that babies progress very quickly to consuming a fair amount of food with BLW.

Baby Led Weaning & Meeting Iron Requirements daily platter

My 4 simple tips on getting enough iron into your bubs (6-12 months).

Continue providing adequate breastmilk or formula as baby’s main source of nutrients. At this age, solids are complimentary foods used to boost baby’s nutrient intake, and to gradually get their digestive system ready to transition completely to solids.

Ensure every meal includes some iron-rich foods right from the start – including meat, egg, legumes or nuts ensures a good source of protein too.

 

Combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods, as this vitamin enhances the absorption of non-haem iron (especially in legumes) into the body. Breastmilk provides vitamin C, but so too do capsicums, tomatoes, broccoli, citrus fruit and berries, as well as other fruits. Beef mince in a tomato-based sauce is a perfect combo.

Avoid calcium-rich foods at the same time as iron-rich foods, as this inhibits the uptake of iron. A sprinkle of grated cheese is probably not going to have a significant impact, but a glass of milk with dinner is not a good idea (not to mention it will fill them up too much to eat their dinner!). Same goes for adults – ditch the cup of tea or coffee with your meal, as the polyphenols inhibit the iron uptake.

For more tips on introducing solids, as well as other early childhood nutrition, check out more of my blog posts where I’ll be adding more over the coming months!

Who am I and what do I know? I’m The Real Nutritionist (aka Lucy), a qualified nutritionist, with a special interest in early childhood nutrition – from introducing solids, through to the preschool age. And I’ve had some hands-on experience too. With a 2-and-a-half-year-old who baby-led weaned, and an 8-month-old who is currently baby-led weaning, I’ve cleaned up my fair share of food-splattered floors!

Baby Led Weaning & Meeting Iron Requirements