The Role of Good and Bad Fats in Your Baby’s Diet?
Thursday, October 20th, 2022
Did you know that fat is an essential macronutrient for your toddler’s growth and development?
Fat is an important energy-producing nutrient in the body that babies require to grow, but finding the right fats is crucial to a balanced and healthy diet. As recommended by the Institute of Medicine, children aged 1-3 should consume 30-40% of their daily calories from fats, which amounts to 39 grams of fat per 1,000 calories consumed.
Among the nutrients present in food are fats that are needed by the body for building nerves, hormones, and energy. Fats, however, can be stored inside fat cells if they are not used as energy by the body. Different fats are classified as saturated, monounsaturated, poly-unsaturated, and trans-fatty acids, but it’s not always obvious how each of these fats contributes to the health of the body or mind. Your toddler can benefit greatly from certain kinds of fats (such as omega-3 fats) during these crucial years of brain development.
These fats, however, can cause health problems if consumed in excess, which is why parents must know the difference between good fats and bad fats. Here is a helpful guide to help parents better understand fats, their source, and the amount needed for growing toddlers.
Fats that are good for you are unsaturated fats, either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. It is not possible for our bodies to produce polyunsaturated fats, so we obtain them from food. Good fats make good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Good fats are available in the following foods:
Breast milk for babies
Soy food, nuts, and seeds
Paneer or cottage cheese
Homemade clarified butter (ghee)
Good fat helps better the development of the brain and eyes in a baby and strengthens their immune system.
Bad fats are saturated and are known to produce bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.
Bad fats can be found in various foods:
Chocolate energy bars
Palm oil in fried food like chips and biscuits
The ratio of healthy fats in your baby’s diet
The amount of unsaturated fat to include per day in cooking, baking, spreads or dressings varies from baby to baby. However, we have made a rough sketch based on their age:
1-2 years – 1 serve
2-3 years – ½ serve
4-8 years – 1 serve
How to achieve a Balanced Diet
- For better growth, babies should be given full-fat food when they are introduced to solids. Try to avoid skim milk and dairy products.
- If the baby is formula fed, consult the doctor to make sure he gets all the good fat in the right proportion.
- Feed your child a variety of foods including a wide range of fats.
- Once babies are weaned off breast milk, they should be given vegetable oils in their diet for fatty acids.
- Carefully read the nutrition content panel mentioned on packaged food before buying
- Try to avoid giving any food with bad fats to the baby like butter, meat, etc.
- When buying packaged food, choose ones that have a tick mark by the heart foundation implying that they have low trans-fat content.
- Try to have a lot of variations in the diet to make it healthier.
- Restrict the use of processed food and make your baby consume fresh and healthy food containing unsaturated fats
- Eating food items like ice creams and chocolates should be limited to special occasions.
How to reduce or replace unhealthy fats in your family diet:
Tips when you go shopping
Buy lean cuts of meat and reduced-fat mince instead of fatty cuts like bacon and sausages.
Look for food items with less than 3 gm per 100 gm of saturated fat, and less than 10 gm per 100 gm of total fat. For cheeses, it should be less than 15 gm per 100 gm, and less than 2 gm per 100 gm for other dairy foods.
Tips when you cook
Use margarine made from olive, canola, and sunflower oils in sandwiches and cooking instead of butter.
Use low-fat yoghurt instead of cream.
Try roasting, steaming, baking, stewing, or poaching your food instead of frying foods in oil, butter, or animal fat.
Reduce the use of oil by using oil spray instead of liquid oil.
Before cooking, trim the fat off the meat and remove the skin from the chicken.
The topic of fat in your infant’s and toddler’s diet is one that parents need to understand since fats are essential in their child’s diet.