Infant Nutrition 101: 7 Nutrients Your Baby Needs

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Infant nutrition sounds complicated, but it’s not when you know the right amount of nutrients your baby needs. For instance, newborns need to take two to three ounces of breast milk or formula, which is a source of protein, every two to three hours a day. If your baby is ready, they can start eating solid foods at four months. You can give them one tablespoon of solid food twice a day. 

When they reach six months, they can eat one to nine tablespoons of solid foods like vegetables and fruits, which are sources of folic acid and vitamin C. Aside from vegetables and fruits, they can eat cereal, which provides iron, calcium, zinc, as well as vitamins B, C, and E.

Read on to learn about the nutrients your baby needs and why they’re important:

  1. Calcium

Your baby needs calcium, so they can build strong bones necessary for normal growth and development. Without enough calcium in their diet, they’re likely to have weak bones that may lead to deformities later in life. ( Calcium also plays an important role in muscle contraction, nerve function, and blood clotting.

To make sure your child is getting enough calcium, you should feed them breast milk or baby formula in the first six months. Breast milk and formula will be enough to meet all of your baby’s nutritional needs. You can increase the amount of liquid they take by one ounce every month until it gets to seven to eight ounces of breast milk or formula per feeding. 

For example, a two-month-old baby can take four to five ounces of breast milk or formula every three to four hours a day. When they turn four months old, you can feed them four to six ounces of breast milk or formula every four to five hours a day. 

2. Protein

Protein provides amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscles, hair, skin, and nails, as well as enzymes that aid digestion. It helps keep your baby full between meals too.

As mentioned earlier, breast milk is a source of protein. But if you aren’t able to breastfeed, you can let your baby consume infant formula with whey protein hydrolysate such as Holle A2 Stage 1 . This type of formula is said to help with digestion better than other types of formulas. 

3. Healthy Fats

In addition to calcium and protein, healthy fats should be a part of your baby’s diet. They play a significant role in brain development and function and help your child develop a strong immune system. Similar to protein, they allow your baby to stay satisfied and full between meals. 

Most experts recommend that parents offer a variety of foods with different kinds of fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. You can also give your baby dairy products, like yogurt, hard cheese, cottage cheese. However, ensure that these dairy products should be made from whole milk or full-fat. You can include avocado as well. 

4. Iron

Iron helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of your child’s body. Moreover, it helps develop hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Iron-fortified formulas prevent iron deficiency anemia in infants. If you’re breastfeeding, your diet should include foods that are high in iron, such as meat, eggs, and leafy green vegetables, so that your breast milk contains enough iron for your baby.

5. Zinc

Zinc is essential for the development of your baby’s immune system and proper brain function. Plus, it helps support general health and growth.

Infants born with low zinc levels may be at risk for stunted growth, delayed cognitive development, and behavioral problems. Infants receive enough zinc if they’re breastfed until the age of six months or above. 

6. Magnesium

Magnesium plays a vital role in forming strong bones and teeth and assisting with muscle growth and nerve function. The amount of magnesium that your baby should take depends on their age. 30 mg of magnesium a day is ideal for infants between 0 to 6 months. 75 mg of magnesium a day is recommended for infants 7 to 12 months. 

Milk, fruits (like dried apricots and bananas), and dark green, leafy vegetables (like chard, artichokes, avocados, and beet greens) are foods rich in magnesium. 

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to eat enough magnesium-rich foods, such as legumes and seeds, peanut butter and peanuts, cereals and whole grain bread, and soy products like tofu and flour. You can talk to your doctor if you have concerns about whether your diet contains enough magnesium.

7. Vitamins A, B, C, E 

Vitamins A, C, and E are fat-soluble vitamins that help build strong bones and teeth, maintain eyesight, and boost the immune system. On the other hand, vitamin B complex consists of eight different vitamins that help with energy production in the body.

Sweet potatoes and carrots are full of vitamin A. Beans, bananas, and green vegetables come with vitamin B. Cantaloupe, tomatoes, and strawberries are filled with vitamin C while grains and cereal are packed with vitamin E. 

Final Thoughts

All these nutrients support the growth and development of your baby. You don’t have to memorize all of them to ensure that the nutritional needs of your little one are met. You can just add at least one source of nutrient to every meal when you feed your baby. If you feel unsure or worried, don’t hesitate to give your pediatrician a call.



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