Getting the Right Nutrients Into Your Baby

Feeding your baby can be one of the most joyful parts of his first twelve months of life. After all, feeding allows you the time to bond with your baby, experience his likes and dislikes, and witness his growth and development. But feeding can also be a little bit tricky, especially if your little one is a fussy eater. That is why it is especially important to be sure that your baby is getting all of the nutrients that he needs to grow up healthy and strong. Here are some tips on things to be sure to include when it comes to the next mealtime with baby!

How Much Should Baby Eat?
This is one of the most common questions among parents. Depending upon the age of your child, he will have different nutritional demands. Most infants under the age of 1 require at least 650 calories a day. This is almost four times as many calories per pound as an adult requires! Newborns should be fed frequently - between eight and twelve times a day - to ensure adequate caloric intake. Infants between two and six months can be fed six to eight times a day. After six months, you can begin introducing solids into your baby's diet to ensure that he gets all the calories that he needs.

Fat and Your Baby
Though most adults try to limit their fat intake, it is never a good idea to limit the amount of fat that your baby eats. Fat provides your child with the extra energy that he needs to grow and develop. And because baby cannot take in as much food as we can, he needs the extra calories that fat provides. Your breast milk contains high levels of fat to help baby develop properly. Formula also has extra fat content to meet baby's nutritional needs.

What Should Baby Eat?

In order to grow properly in her first year, your baby needs to get the proper intake of vitamins and nutrients. The following are some of the most important vitamins and minerals for a baby's nutrition:

Calcium should make up part of everyone's diet, no matter what age you are. However, calcium is particularly important for your baby. Calcium in your baby's diet will help her to grow strong bones and teeth. It also helps with the formation of tooth enamel, which guards against infections and cavities. Babies up to the age of 12 months need to get between 400 and 600 milligrams of calcium everyday. The majority of this calcium should come from your breast milk or fortified formulas and foods. Children who are less than one year old should never drink cow's milk, as this can irritate the lining of their intestines, leading to internal bleeding. If your child is lactose intolerant, consider purchasing a soy-based or lactose-free formula.

Iron is one of the most important part of baby's diet. Iron is vital to your baby's blood supply as well as to his organ and skin formation. Infants should receive approximately six milligrams of iron everyday. Iron is contained in both breast milk and baby formula, however, when your child begins to eat solids he can also get iron from meat products and vegetables, including spinach.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A plays an important role in developing your child's skin and eyes. It also helps to prevent infections by building up the immune systems. Infants should receive 1500 IUs of Vitamin A daily in order to develop properly. Vitamin A can be found in breast milk, fortified cereals, and foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and oranges.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps your child to develop healthy skin and muscles. It also plays an integral role in the breakdown of glucose in her bloodstream. Without proper amounts of Vitamin B12, your baby could develop a vitamin deficiency called Vitamin B12 anemia, which can cause fatigue, listlessness, and other side effects. Vitamin B12 can be found in breast milk, fortified formulas and cereals, and various animal products.

Vitamin Supplements and Baby

Parents often wonder if they should administer vitamin supplements to their infants. The general consensus is that, if baby is receiving adequate breast milk or formula, she probably won't require additional vitamin supplementation. However, some children who don't eat as well, or who are born prematurely, may require additional supplementation of some essential nutrients. Vitamin supplementation can help to treat existing nutritional deficiencies and prevent nutritional deficiencies from occurring. The most common supplements given to infants are:

  • Iron Supplements: Iron supplements are often given to infants who exhibit the signs of nutritional anemia.
  • Vitamin B12 Supplements: Vitamin B12 supplements are given to children who have low levels of this vitamin in their blood. These can help treat or prevent vitamin B12 anemia.
  • Fluoride: Fluoride supplements can be given to your child if your local water supply does not already contain this mineral. Fluoride helps to build strong teeth and bones. It can be offered in liquid form daily.

Tips on Keeping Baby's Diet Nutrious

Making sure that baby meets all infant nutrition requirements can be difficult. Here are some easy tips to follow to ensure your baby is getting just what she needs.

  • If you are breastfeeding, look for signs that you baby is getting enough milk during feeding times. Count the number of soiled diapers that your baby produces every day. Well-fed infants usually soil six or more diapers a day.
  • If you are giving your baby formula, be sure to read the labels on all formula containers carefully. Look for formula that is fortified with essential nutrients, like iron and vitamin B12. Always choose a formula that is specifically designed for your child's age group.
  • When baby begins eating solid foods, try making your own baby food. Homemade baby food is highly nutritious and very easy to make.
  • If you notice any signs of nutritional deficiency (such as lethargy, fatigue, crying, or a change in bowel movements), contact your health care provider for advice.