Why Your Baby Needs Fats and Carbohydrates

Fats and oils are made up of molecules of fatty acids and glycerol. All fats are a combination of three types of fatty acids. A fat is said to be saturated, mono-unsaturated or polyunsaturated, depending on which type of fatty acid is present in the largest proportion. Saturated fats, such as butter, are solid at room temperature and are sometimes referred to as the "bad" fats. Mono-unsaturated, such as olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats, such as sunflower oil, are liquid at room temperature.

Energy-dense foods are essential to meet your baby's demands for his rapid growth and development. Foods that contain fats provide not only a concentrated source of energy but also the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which are vital in the healthy development of your baby. Some fatty acids in the diet are essential to health. It is this "quality" of fat that is more important than worrying about quantity for this age group. Let your baby's appetite guide you. And remember, low-fat products and diets are not suitable for your baby.

Essential fatty acids are found in plant and fish oils. They cannot be made in the body and so, like vitamins and minerals, they need to be present in the baby's diet. Fat is the greatest provider of energy to babies in the first months of life. More than 50 per cent of the energy from breast milk comes from fat. Infant formula milks and follow-on formula milks provide 30 to 56.6 per cent of their energy from fat.

Key Saturated Fat Foods

Saturated fat foods are solid at room temperature.
• Animal products, such as unsalted butter, meat, eggs, full-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt
• Coconut oil
• Biscuits, cakes, and pastries made using saturated fats (such as butter and eggs).

Key Unsaturated Fat Foods
Many unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.
• Olive oil and sunflower oil
• Finely ground nuts (don't give nuts to babies if there is a family history of food allergies)
• Seeds
• Avocados
• Sardines.


There are two types of carbohydrates: simple (sugars) and complex (starches and fibre). They are the body's primary source of energy. Your baby needs a good source of carbohydrates to provide him with energy necessary to grow and develop.