Chia Seeds & Your Plant-Based BabyJan 16, 2021
Have you wondered if chia seeds are suitable for your baby? And if so how should you serve them? These tiny seeds from Central and South America are packed full of nutrients and are a welcome addition to any plant-based diet. They are also safe to introduce to your infant from 6 months. Read on for how to serve them safely, nutritional benefits and recipe ideas.
Nutritional benefits of chia seeds for a plant-based baby
These little seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids in the plant form ALA (alpha linolenic acid) which contributes to healthy brain development for your little one. The quantity of protein in the seeds also makes a fantastic contribution to overall daily protein intake, even when eating small portions. They are also rich in iron which is important for your little one from 6 months as breast & formula milk no longer provide enough to support your infants' increased requirements (4.8mg at 7-9 months old). Finally chia seeds also contain other minerals like calcium and magnesium which are also important for your plant-based baby.
Chia seeds are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids and iron
Chia seeds and their fibre content
Chia seeds contain a generous quantity of fibre. For adults this is a very positive thing, as on average it has been reported that adults in the UK do not consume enough fibre. However, an infant does not require large quantities of fibre as it can quickly fill small tummies preventing your baby from feeling hungry, potentially displacing other foods in your baby's diet. That's why offering a small quantity of chia seeds to your baby each day is ok in moderation.
Try mixing them through a baby friendly baked porridge fingers
How do I serve chia seeds to my baby?
Chia seeds are very versatile and can be sprinkled ground and raw in small quantities over soft foods or plant-based yoghurts, soaked overnight in breastmilk, formula milk, plant-based milks or full fat coconut milk (from a tin). You can also try them stirred through porridge, plant-based yoghurts, overnight oats or even purées or mashed vegetables. You can even use them as a crust in place of breadcrumbs on meals such as tofu bites or small hand sized bean burgers which can be baked in the oven. Due to the very neutral taste of chia seeds they are versatile and lend themselves to sweet or savoury food. They also work as an egg replacer by soaking chia seeds in water until they become gelatinous, the rich quantity of protein in the tiny seeds supports in the baking process.
I like to add them to home made teething ice-lollies/popsicle (click here for the recipe and more information)
First tastes & beyond….
As with any new food start by offering a few small ground seeds sprinkled over meals or soft foods to ensure your baby’s small digestive system isn’t overwhelmed with the hit of initial fibre. You can then slowly increase the quantity over time working up to chia puddings. There is no firm guidance on a maximum intake of chia seeds per day for your baby, however considering the quantity of fibre a maximum of 2 teaspoons per day should be plenty.
If your baby is suffering with constipation these little fibre packed seeds can support in helping your baby combat constipation (although seek the support of a health care professional for support around constipation). To help with the digestion of all food especially high fibre food like chia seeds always offer a drink of water at mealtimes to your baby and continue breastfeeding or infant formula feeding responsively throughout the complementary feeding stage.
*Always assess your own baby's risk of allergies and seek advice from your health professional if you have concerns about your baby having constipation.
Mix a few chia seeds into porridge whole, or grind and sprinkle on top
Chia Pudding Recipe - as easy as 1.. 2.. 3..!
- Add 4-5 tablespoons of chia seeds to a bowl.
- Add half a tin of full fat coconut milk and 200mls of plant milk of your choice.
- Stir well, cover and soak overnight
Serve with any fresh or stewed fruit of your choice.
Chia pudding with cashew cream and apricots - an iron packed breakfast or snack anytime
Check out my new free guide "Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for your Baby" which includes:
🌱What do the professionals globally say about a PB diet?
🌱 What does the latest research say?
🌱An easy comparison between different diet types for your infant
🌱Nutritional considerations for your little one
Click here to access it now.