By: Melissa Antal
Your baby needs fat in their diet. We all do! So what exactly does that mean and how should you think about it for your little one 6 months to 2 years old? This is what we’ll tackle in this blog. Let us take you through our favorite fat fun facts. Let’s go!
Fat fuels brain development and growth
Little ones need fat because they have high energy needs, but little room in their tummies. Fat is energy and that energy is needed! By age 3, a baby’s brain is 80% adult size. We like to think of the energy supplied by fat as the secret sauce for brain development and growth. Fat helps little bodies absorb the nutrients needed to make brain development and growth happen.
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Not all fat is created equal
There are different types of fat, and some types are better for you than others. Why? Some types of fat are critical for brain function and development.
- Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat: Think fatty fish, vegetables and fruit sources of fat like olives, soybeans, nuts. This type includes essential fatty acids like omega-3’s that are essential building blocks of our brain.
- Saturated fat: Think solid at room temperature like butter, cheese, meat. This type of fat is usually from animals. Our brain cells have this type of fat in them so we need these fats to function.
- Trans fats: Think chemically altered fat like partially hydrogenated oil. This is what is typically added to packaged and convenience foods to keep them fresh longer. No role here for healthy brain development.
Our favorite brain booster fats
We like to think of some fats as healthy fats or brain boosters. Why? Because they serve a purpose and benefit our brains. Here are our favorites you can easily include in your own baby food routine. On to our favorites:
- Olive or Avocado Oil
- Wild Caught Salmon or Sardines
- Nut Butter
Are any of these foods new to your baby? Remember, with all new foods, it can take time for your little one to learn to like it. Repeated exposure is key, meaning keep serving it! One day they must try it, and the next day actually eat it.
How much fat is OK?
Before your little one’s second birthday, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not want you to restrict your baby’s fat intake. These recommendations change after a child turns two and by five, fat intake is similar to adult guidelines. Generally, they suggest all families limit intake of trans fat.
All foods fit
Fat is part of a balanced diet, all types of it! The trick to find a good mix of fat is to choose whole, unprocessed foods. But don’t stress out about it. Honestly, we’ve found that the best approach to a balanced diet is one that includes eating everything in moderation!
Want more help?
This stuff can be complicated, especially if your pediatrician suggests you add more or less fat to your baby’s diet. Need to talk to a pediatric nutrition expert? Check out Foublie, we work with some of the best registered dietitians in the country and they are ready to help you virtually.
Melissa Antal Iftimie is the CEO and co-founder of Foublie, the pediatrician-approved guide to feed your family. She is a behavior change specialist and public health nutritionist, who one crazy day decided to go to business school. She has worked with parents around the world for over 15 years, helping families feed their kids with confidence. Melissa holds an BA from University of Michigan, an MPH from George Washington University and an MBA from Georgetown University. She lives in San Francisco, CA.