Babies double their birth weight by six months and nearly triple their birth weight by twelve months. This exponential growth does not occur at any other time in their lives.
Because of this, not only does your baby need more nutrients, he or she needs higher doses of these nutrients.
However, unless your baby is born premature, there is usually no need to supplement your baby’s diets with vitamins or minerals during the first year of life. Excessive amounts of certain vitamins and minerals can be toxic or even fatal to infants.
Most experts agree that breast milk is the best and contains all a baby needs for the first six months. But this depends on the mother’s health and other circumstances.
In addition, formula can be a good alternative, and most formulas contain all the baby nutrients needed prior to starting solid food.
Vitamin D is essential for the formation of bones and helps the body utilize other nutrients, like calcium and phosphorus. Without sufficient Vitamin D, a person can develop the bone disease, rickets, which can cause bowed legs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants have a minimum of 200 IU of Vitamin D per day.
If a baby is breastfed, he or she can still be Vitamin D deficient, especially if the mother is. The best way to get the right amount of this baby nutrient is by sun exposure.
A few minutes a day is sufficient, but too much time in the sun is not a good idea. Research has link early sun exposure to a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Iron is an essential baby nutrient for brain development and the formation of healthy blood cells.
Without sufficient iron, a baby could be at risk for developing iron-deficiency anemia. Studies have also shown that iron deficiency in infants and older children may be associated with irreversible behavioral abnormalities and abnormal functioning of the brain.
Some signs of iron deficiency include lethargy, pale skin, and slow weight gain. Babies who are iron deficient are often fussy. However, these could also be signs of other conditions, so consult your baby’s pediatrician to find out if an iron supplement is necessary.
Babies are born with enough iron for their first six months of life. At that point, if you’re introducing solid foods, it’s a good idea to include foods that are rich in iron, such as avocado, potato, and tofu.
Calcium is a mineral that helps with the growth and strength of bones and teeth. It’s also important for healthy muscles and nerves.
Breast milk and most formula typically contain enough baby calcium for the first year. However, it’s always a good idea to make sure that the formula you’re giving your baby has the daily recommendation of 500 milligrams.
Once solid foods are introduced, and your baby is getting less breast milk or formula, it’s a good idea to supplement with foods that are calcium-rich, such as tofu, broccoli, beans, salmon, yogurt, and oatmeal.
Babies under the age of one should not drink cow’s milk.
Low-fat milk contains the same amount of nutrients as whole milk but. There is no evidence that choosing low-fat dairy products over whole fat can help prevent children from becoming overweight later on.
Zinc is an important baby nutrient for infant cognition and brain development.
Zinc plays a role in these bodily functions:
- Formation of proteins
- Healing wounds
- Formation of blood
- Tissue Growth
- Healthy immune system
A zinc deficiency can impair growth and cause a baby to be susceptible to infection.
Breastfeeding and formula feeding can meet a baby’s nutritional needs in regard to zinc.
When adding solid foods to their diet, choose foods that include zinc. Good sources of zinc include meat, eggs, lentils, and cheddar cheese. Most foods that are rich in iron also contain zinc.
When a baby is born, he or she will usually be given a shot of Vitamin K. It’s an important vitamin for blood clotting and also prevents bleeding into the brain. Most infant formulas do not include vitamin K, which is why this shot is necessary.
As we get older, the normal bacteria in our intestine processes Vitamin K. But babies are born without much of this bacteria, so a supplement is necessary.
Foods that have lots of Vitamin K include leafy green vegetables and most fruit.
Other Baby Nutrients
These are the top five baby nutrients needed for optimal health and well-being. However, there are many other important nutrients too, such as Vitamins A, B, C, and E, Sodium, and Fluoride.
Vitamin A promotes good vision and healthy skin.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps with cell and nervous system growth and development.
Vitamin B helps your baby have healthy skin and muscles and regulates your baby’s metabolism.
And Vitamin C not only prevents scurvy but improves the body’s absorption of iron and increases overall health.
Fluoride is essential for the development of healthy teeth. It is often added to and found in drinking water. However, the use of a filter can sometimes filter out fluoride.
You are Your Child’s Primary Healthcare Provider
When giving your baby formula, use the best water for formula and check the ingredients to make sure that it includes all of these nutrients and has the best vitamins for babies or infants. Not all formulas are created equal.
At your baby’s well-check, make sure the pediatrician checks for any deficiencies. Do not give your baby supplemental vitamins or minerals without consulting a doctor.
When starting solid foods, and slowly weaning off formula or breast milk, be sure to give your baby a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and healthy fats to cover all the bases.
Ultimately, you are your child’s primary healthcare provider and know best what your baby needs.
For more great articles about maintaining your baby’s nutritional needs and keeping your baby healthy, check out our blog.