Baby Nutrition – List of Essential Nutrients to Feed Your Baby

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Baby Nutrition - List of Essential Nutrients to Feed Your Baby

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Be it inside the womb or after delivery, your baby grows quite a lot in the initial stages of his life. He will be dependent on breast milk initially, but soon your child will start having solids, and then the possibilities of food items to serve will be endless. The nutritional demands of a child keep changing, depending on the phase of growth he is in.

Why Is Good Nutrition Essential for an Infant?

The importance of nutrition for babies cannot be stressed enough. While nutritious food might be looked at purely as a meal, lifelong adherence to a habit of having proper meals is quite necessary.

1. Proper Eating Habits

Shifting from breast milk to having the usual food items is a significant change for the little ones ,and they begin to remember what is being given to them for a long time. Children learn by example as well, which is why it is essential for parents to have proper eating habits, and for families to eat together.

2. Better Health and Protection from Infections

Meals provide a good proportion of energy and nutrition, both of which are essential in keeping the body in healthy condition. The developing immune system gets the help and support it needs from these nutrients. Serve seasonal fruits and veggies, avoid eating outside foods, and maintain good hygiene as well.

3. Supports the Development of the Child

Development of bone structure, improvement of bodily processes and organs, and the growth of the brain take place in the early years of a child. All of these require tons of energy and proper nutrition like folate, choline, iron, etc.

Baby food

Recommended Nutritional Requirements for Infants

Figuring out which food items can provide the right kind of nutrition can get challenging for parents. This is where understanding the nutritional requirements for children and planning the diet accordingly can be of great help.

1. Carbohydrates

One of the core parts of a diet, carbohydrates are found in most food items, and are one of the main sources of energy.

Importance

Energy is what children need a lot of at this stage, and carbohydrates provide most of it for all their activities, their metabolism and their mental growth.

Sources

Dairy products, combined with various green vegetables, leafy vegetables, and grains contain carbohydrates in substantial quantities.

Daily Requirement

120-140 grams.

2. Fats or Fatty Acids

If carbohydrates provide energy right away, fats are what work towards storing the energy that a body can tap into whenever it needs to.

Importance

Unlike the bad fats, good fats and fatty acids provide the consistent energy supply that various vital organs such as liver, heart and brain need.

Sources

Milk and yoghurt  along with well-cooked eggs, walnuts, flaxseeds, and seafood like salmon are rich in omega-3 content.

 Daily Requirement

1-2 grams of omega-3.

3. Proteins

Along with energy, the body needs to build up its muscular strength as well. This is where proteins come into play and make the body stronger.

Importance

The development of cells depends heavily on proteins, which makes the brain function sharper and other parts of the body stronger with newer skin and muscle tissue.

Sources

Having yoghurt, eggs, and breast milk in moderate quantities can be further supported by including meat in pureed form and seafood as well.

Daily Requirement

Equate the child’s weight with protein intake. For example, a child weighing 18kg should have 18 grams of protein in his diet.

4. Calcium

The skin tissue and muscles form only the visible part of our body. All of it is held together and structured correctly by our bone mass, which depends heavily on calcium.

Age

The inclusion of calcium in the external diet is at a lower range while the child is less than a year old, but triples in requirement after that point.

Importance

The entire bone structure and the dental growth depends heavily on calcium, along with establishing proper communication function between the muscles and the nerve cells.

Sources

Soy products along with orange juice and leafy vegetables are great ways to include calcium in the diet.

Daily Requirement

200-250 mg under 12 months, 700 mg after a year.

Spinach for calcium

5. Iron

Along with muscles and bones, the blood within our body needs to be healthy as well, which is where iron plays a key role. Haemoglobin is essential for transferring oxygen, and iron is important for the nervous system, as well as vitality.

Age

Iron requirements are minimal until the baby is less than 6 months old, but they shoot up by nearly 40 times after that.

Importance

The presence of iron keeps haemoglobin levels at an optimal within the blood to carry oxygen molecules to various parts of the body.

Sources

A lot of green vegetables and beans, along with red meat and fish can provide iron in good quantities.

Daily Requirement

0.25 mg for young babies, 10-11 mg after 6 months.

6. Magnesium

Though not discussed rather frequently, magnesium is essential in keeping internal organs working properly.

Age

Once a child is 6 months old, his magnesium requirement is more than twice what was needed earlier.

Importance

Along with keeping the bones healthy, magnesium helps streamline nerve signals between various parts of the body and maintain heartbeat at an optimal pace.

Sources

Soybeans and almonds, along with kiwi and bananas, are great supplements for iron combined with vegetables and grains.

Daily Requirement

30 mg up to 6 months, 75-80 mg post that age.

7. Phosphorous

Phosphorous plays a key role in bone development along with calcium, working deeper within to keep them healthy.

Age

After 6 months and on completion of a year, the requirement of phosphorous at each stage is doubled as compared to the earlier age range.

Importance

Apart from providing energy and supplying oxygen to the body, phosphorous also strengthens the bones from within and supports the cellular function on a larger level.

Sources

Meat products such as beef and chicken are excellent sources, along with milk and cheese, and whole wheat bread.

Daily Requirement

100 mg before 6 months, 260 mg until a year, 450-460 mg post that.

8. Zinc

This element may not be stressed enough, but its requirement is quite essential for children of all ages.

Age

Right from birth to when children are a few years old, the requirement of zinc stays more or less consistent throughout.

Importance

Right from supporting vital internal processes such as nervous development and reproductive growth, zinc also works in improving the immunity of your child.

Sources

Peanuts and cereals with fortified zinc can be excellent choices, along with soybeans and red meat products.

Daily Requirement

2-3 mg for kids of all ages.

Cereals for Zinc

9. Potassium

Amongst various nutritional supplements for babies, potassium is heavily required in kids once they start growing up.

Age

What might be required in normal amounts in the early stages is only a fifth of what is required by children who are more than a year old.

Importance

Retaining optimum water levels within the body’s various regions and keeping all functions stable is one of the vital roles that potassium supports.

Sources

Numerous fruits and green vegetables or even tomatoes provide potassium in good quantities.

Daily Requirement

400-700 mg till a year, 2900 mg after that.

10. Vitamin A

The most popular of all vitamins, Vitamin A, provides numerous benefits to the developing body of a child.

Age

The requirement of Vitamin A usually stays the same but it is necessary to be under the maximum threshold of it.

Importance

Supporting the growth of immunity and keeping the eyesight and bones strong is one of those functions that vitamin A does best.

Sources

Green leafy vegetables, potatoes and carrots, along with cod liver oil are some great choices.

Daily Requirement

500 mcg until a year, 300 mcg after that.

11. Vitamin B

Vitamin B and its numerous forms work together in multiple ways to keep the growth of the body unabated.

Age

The requirement of this vitamin does increase with age, but in very minimal amounts.

Importance

The Vitamin B group plays a vital role in converting the food into energy that can be used as well as assist in the creation of new blood cells.

Sources

Vitamin B fortified cereals and bread products, along with seafood, meat and poultry are good sources all around.

Daily Requirement

0.5 mg of B12 and 0.3 mg of B6 under a year, 1 mg of B12 and 0.5 mg of B6 after that.

12. Vitamin C

Nearly synonymous with healing and repairing, Vitamin C is one of the other popular vitamins that everybody should have.

Age

Young babies need a lot of vitamin C in the early stages, which then seems to be required on an as-need basis.

Importance

Repairing the internal tissues and bone wear and tear is where vitamin C plays a key role. In matters of injuries as well, vitamin C works in speeding up the healing process.

Sources

Vegetables like cabbage, spinach, tomatoes and berries are rich in vitamin C.

Daily Requirement

50 mg till a year, 15 mg after that.

Berries for vitamin C

13. Vitamin D

If your body is getting calcium, then it also needs vitamin D as a vital companion for getting the proper benefits.

Age

Throughout childhood, the need for Vitamin D stays more or less constant for your kid’s growth.

Importance

The intake of calcium is of no use unless there is Vitamin D in place to help synthesise its absorption and make the bones and teeth stronger and healthier.

Sources

Soy products, dairy products, and leafy vegetables along with morning sunlight are helpful for vitamin D synthesis.

Daily Requirement

10-15 mg for kids across their ages.

14. Nucleotides

The essential portion of a human being is stored in coded form with the DNA and RNA, which is where nucleotides come into play.

Age

The early stages of a child are extremely essential and require nucleotides in substantial quantities.

Importance

Since nucleotides form the very foundation of the DNA and RNA molecules, they are necessary to keep them strong from the presence of damaging free radicals.

Sources 

The mother’s breast milk and specific formulae do contain nucleotides as needed.

Daily Requirement

A child gets all the nucleotides he needs when he breastfeeds or has formula.

15. DHA and ARA

These are two essential fatty acids, usually termed as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, that are required for a baby’s growth

Age

Until a child is 3 years old, these acids are necessarily needed in his daily diet.

Importance

A lot of brain and eyesight development is dependent on these fatty acids, all of which start working rather early in the baby’s life.

Sources

Seafood along with flaxseeds and walnuts, as well as omega-6 fortified food items are the best sources.

Daily Requirement

Most of these need to be given in the form of a supplement, as advised by your doctor.

16. Vitamin E

Also known as alpha-TE, this vitamin is quite necessary for the overall protection of the body.

Age

Vitamin E needs to be consistently present across a child’s growth in pretty much the same quantity.

Importance

Along with stimulating blood circulation within the body, this vitamin is responsible for creating a protective shield for the body from various microbes.

Sources

Raw mango and sunflower seeds, among a few vegetables, contain vitamin E in good quantities.

Daily Requirement

4-6 mg is sufficient for a child.

Sunflower seeds for Vitamin E

17. Prebiotics And Probiotics

Infant nutrition relies heavily on how well the body can synthesise it, and these biotic forms are necessary to make that happen.

Age

Most of these are present in the baby’s gut since birth, and their growth needs support as his age progresses.

Importance

The presence of healthy bacteria in the intestine of your child is what helps get the nutrition from the food and protect the body from any other bacterial infection.

Sources

Probiotic-fortified milk and other food items are available, along with the natural source of yoghurt.

Daily Requirement

Breastfeeding helps satisfy the daily requirement supplemented with a little yoghurt.

18. Water

This forms the very foundation of life within the body, and its inclusion in the diet cannot be downplayed at all.

Age

Though not directly required at early stages of life, water can be given to a child once he gets started on solids.

Importance

Maintaining proper water levels within the body helps keep the electrolytes in an optimum balance. Also, most water supplies have fluoride in them which helps with dental health.

Sources

Breast milk along with juicy fruits and plain water are your best bets, depending on the child’s age.

Daily Requirement

Ensuring the urine is colourless is your benchmark for proper water consumption.

Special Nutrition For Preterm Babies

Preterm babies are low in weight (below 2.5 kg is termed as low birth weight) and require a lot more nutrition than other children to sustain and protect themselves from any diseases.

Age

Babies that are born prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy are termed as premature babies.

Importance of Nutrition

Having a lot of calories and fats along with proteins and other vitamins is highly essential for such babies, since they need to catch up with the growth required to keep them alive and healthy as they age.

Sources of Nutrition

Only breast milk does not suffice for such babies. The inclusion of formula with extra supplements of all forms is highly recommended in such cases.

Keeping various baby nutrition guidelines in mind can help you chalk out a diet plan for your little one as he grows through the years. Inculcating proper nutrition habits at an early age helps maintain them in the life ahead, ensuring that your child stays healthy and make the right nutrition choices.

Also Read: 10 Best Baby Foods You Should Give to Eat 

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