A happy baby is a healthy baby. Vitamin and mineral rich foods play a key role in powering up our bub’s energy levels, fortifying immune systems, and ultimately helping them to ride their wave of developmental growth spurts off to a good start. Here are five must-have vitamins and minerals for babies, and easy recipes featuring everyday superfoods that are available at your nearest supermarket.
Known as Cobalamin, this essential vitamin converts folate to active form and is instrumental for nerve health and function. It is commonly found in liver, meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, milk, cheese, yoghurt and even tempeh.
Everyone talks about calcium but we cannot deny how important this is for healthy teeth and bones, blood coagulation (the clotting process essential to repair bodies from cuts and scrapes), and the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Apart from dairy products, this is also found in dark green vegetables, broccoli, salmon, tofu and ikan bilis.
As an essential element of red blood cells, the mineral Iron maintains the immune system and promotes optimal cognitive development. It is found in iron-fortified baby cereals, red meats, liver, fish, poultry, lentils, spinach and enriched bread.
This is one of the key vitamins for children as it facilitates, and even increases, calcium and phosphorus absorption, which leads to the development of strong teeth and bones. This is important for babies, who are growing by leaps and bound everyday! The sun is one our best sources of Vitamin D, which can also be found in fatty fish, fortified milk, butter, beef, egg yolks and liver.
Apart from improving immunity, Vitamin E is a powerful powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damaging free radicals. This is found in tofu, orange coloured vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, dark leafy vegetables and broccoli.
Classic Carrot and Fish Porridge
(makes 3 cups)
100g dried anchovies (ikan bilis), washed, drained and set aside
100g white rice, washed and drained
75g white fish (cod or threadfin), finely minced with all bones removed
25g carrot, finely shredded
To make stock: Bring the water to boil in a pot, add dried anchovies, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve to ensure there are no bones. You should get about 1L of stock.
To make porridge: Add white rice to boiling stock, keep at low heat and gently simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add fish and carrots, then stir to mix well until cooked. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Fresh Chicken Avocado Salad
(makes 1 cup)
75g avocado, ripened and finely chopped
75g chicken, steamed and finely chopped
40g red apple, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp mild cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 Tbsp plain yoghurt
Place all the ingredients, other than the yoghurt together in a bowl and mix well. Add the yoghurt and gently bring everything together so that the mixture remains creamy.
Hearty Alphabet Pasta Bolognaise
(makes 2 cups)
1 Chinese mushroom, soaked in hot water then drained
200g chicken, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
30g carrot, finely shredded
30g white onion, finely diced
30g yellow bell pepper, finely diced
150g fresh or canned tomatoes, finely diced
60g beef, finely minced
30g zucchini, finely diced
50g alphabet pasta, cooked till soft and drained
To make stock: Bring the water to boil in a pot, add Chinese mushroom and chicken, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve to make
To make pasta: Heat oil in pan, add carrot, onion, bell pepper, zucchini and tomatoes, and cook till tender (roughly 10 minutes). Add beef and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring to mix well. Add chicken stock and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add cooked pasta and stir to mix well. Leave to cool before serving.