Fat is not always bad. Good fats are essential for your baby to get the energy for a day’s activities, for his/her wholesome growth and development. Here’s a roundup on all you need to know about fats and their importance in your baby’s diet.
After years of being told that fat is not good for the body, and being conditioned to avoid it like plague, the concept of good fat can be an aberration to the popular concept of fat.
So, what is good fat, and what is bad fat? The fat that we refer to as good is simply unsaturated fat. This comes in two forms, primarily i.e. mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats help us keep our arteries clean. They also help in producing good cholesterol, and moving it around the body, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases.
Polyunsaturated fats comes in two types again – omega 3 and omega 6. These are basically essential fatty acids (EFA) which, again, are crucial for our babies. Your baby’s body is unable to produce EFA, and hence we must supplement her diet with food rich in polyunsaturated fat so as to ensure she has the right intake.
Bad fat, on the other hand, is what comes from animal products such as red meat. Our body also intakes bad fat through dairy products such as whole milk, butter, cheese and ice cream. Lard, and coconut and palm oils are also a source of bad fat. However, these also need to be included in the diet, albeit in lower amounts.
Below are some quick tips on enriching your baby’s diet to ensure they get their daily dose of good fat.
- Breastfeeding is an important source of essential fatty acids for your baby. This is one of the reasons breast-feeding is advisable till your baby reaches the age of at least one year. From there on, external food fortified with good fat, which can be substituted to give your baby adequate levels of good fat. Consult with your doctor if your baby is on formula feed.
- Once you have introduced your baby to solid food, ensure that she gets whole fat food. Children, at this stage, require lots of fat in their diet to provide them the energy required in this crucial development taking place in their body and brain. Do not introduce products such as skimmed milk, fat-free food, low-fat options, and so on, until the baby is at least five years of age, and then too only after consulting your baby’s pediatrician.
- Review your family’s daily diet carefully. List out the items of bad fat, such as butter, cheese, red meat, etc that are part of your current diet. Carefully plan ways to restrict daily intake or look for clever substitutes for these in your daily diet plan.
- Read the nutrition panels on every product carefully. This will give you a good indication of the bad fat composition of your every day diet. You can use this information to choose healthier alternatives for your shopping cart.
- Make it a family effort- As a family, choose to go healthy. Restrict options such as takeaway food, pasta and the likes to just once a week, or even lesser. Also, make healthier choices for everybody in the family – this sets a good example for your little ones to emulate.Following a healthy diet can be a great asset for your baby, even as she grows up, for she will most likely choose a healthier lifestyle having grown up on better food choices.