The healthy baby diet - Sydney Morning Herald

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Omega-3s are important for brain development.

Sardine bruschetta ... Omega-3s are important for brain development.

How to give your baby the best chance for a healthy life.

What a woman eats during pregnancy will affect not only her health but also the growth and development of her baby.

From conception to birth, the development of your baby is influenced by the nutrients in the foods you eat. It's important, then, that your choices are dense in nutrients to help nourish both yourself and your baby - but also give baby the best possible chance of good health later on.

It's a good idea for pregnant women to eat a healthy, varied diet containing fresh fruit and vegetables, plus lean protein including fish for omega-3 oils. Also, wash fruit and vegies properly; and buy locally grown seasonal food to ensure nutritional value is at its peak.

Green chicken stroganoff.

Green chicken stroganoff. Photo: Paul Cutter


Protein aids growth, repair, hormone creation and disease protection. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein for women is 0.75 grams for every kilogram of body weight.

For women who are pregnant it's slightly higher in the second and third trimesters: one gram a kilogram. Sources include lean meat, poultry, fish (cooked), legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs and dairy foods.

Essential fatty acids are needed for the brain, nervous system and visual development of the foetus. Good sources are cooked fish, seeds and nuts.


Folate is used for DNA synthesis, new-cell growth and amino acid metabolism. Deficiency can cause neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Consume 400 micrograms a day of folic acid for at least a month before and three months after conception, and 600 micrograms a day while pregnant. Sources include green vegies, tomato, seeds and eggs.


Vitamin D is crucial for bone health. The International Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism points out that a vitamin D deficiency, common among pregnant women, can increase the risk of neonatal deficiency and lower birth weight. Good sources are oily cooked fish, eggs, sunlight and fortified milk.


Calcium absorption and retention increases during pregnancy and it's important pregnant women achieve the RDI of 1000 milligrams. It's vital for bone strength and structure and good sources are dairy foods, cooked fish with bones, sesame seed and leafy greens.


Iron helps cells generate energy and carry oxygen. The RDI during pregnancy is 27 milligrams, with sources including red meat, broccoli, legumes and dried apricots. Vitamin C enhances absorption, so drinking orange juice with food is ideal.


Iodine is needed to produce the thyroid hormone, which is important for growth and development. Good sources include seafood and seaweed, meat and dairy products.


The RDI for zinc is 11 milligrams. It's an important mineral for the growth and development of the foetus. Good sources are cooked seafood, meat and eggs.


The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology recommends avoiding alcohol during pregnancy. Excessive caffeine intake is also associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and insulin resistance. The journal recommends pregnant women abstain or limit themselves to less than 200 milligrams of caffeine daily, or about one to two cups of coffee.

Information about healthy diets for pregnancy can be found on both the Nutrition Australia website (nutrition and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing site (


A GP and women's health specialist, Dr Ginni Mansberg, says listeria infection (from eating contaminated food) is rare, with about 20 to 30 cases reported in NSW each year. But in pregnant women, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. High-risk foods include smoked fish, oysters and raw seafood, prepared salad such as coleslaw, pre-cooked meat products such as packs of slices from the deli, unpasteurised milk, soft-serve ice-cream and soft cheese. Safe handling and good food hygiene are the best ways to reduce the risk.

Sardine bruschetta

1 can sardines in springwater, drained

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice and a little zest

Ground pepper

1 slice 100 per cent rye sourdough

¼ avocado, sliced

Empty the tin of sardines into a small bowl. Add parsley, lemon juice, zest and a little pepper then mix through well, smashing the sardines a bit. Toast the rye and place on a serving plate. Top with sliced avocado and sardine mix. Serve immediately.

Protein, 24 grams; fat, 15 grams; carbs, 11.40 grams; kilojoules, 1180; calcium, 397 milligrams; fibre, 3 grams. Low GI, high protein, high in omega-3.

Green chicken stroganoff

1 leek, sliced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

300g chicken breast, cut into chunks

2 zucchinis, sliced

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

100g baby spinach leaves

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Zest from 1 lemon

Saute the leek and celery in one teaspoon olive oil on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the diced chicken and zucchini and mix through, followed by the cup of chicken or vegetable stock. Simmer over a medium heat for three minutes until chicken is cooked through, then fold in the spinach last and mix through until just wilted. Spoon into two serving bowls. Sprinkle over combined parsley and lemon zest.

Serves 2

Protein, 37.1 grams, carbs, 3.7 grams; fat, 14 grams; kilojoules, 1210; calcium, 121 milligrams; fibre, 6.3 grams. Gluten free, low GI, high protein.




26 Sep, 2011

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