Nutrients are the building blocks for the healthy growth of the baby. Babies need to be given nutrients in appropriate amounts to prevent a deficiency and the possible health problems emerging out of it. This AptParenting article enlists the 4 essential nutrients your baby needs during his growing years.
Iron for Brain Development
Almost 75% of brain development takes place in the first year after birth, and iron is the vital nutrient that helps in brain development.
We all are aware about the nutrition given to a pregnant woman to help her give birth to a healthy baby. The physician or a nutritionist recommends a diet that ensures she is getting all the vital nutrients in the correct amount. However, it is equally important to focus on nutrition when the baby is born and he is capable of ingesting food on his own. For the first 6 months, the baby gets all the essential nutrients through breast milk, but after that, when it is time for semi-solid or solid foods, the nutrient content of the food should be observed carefully.
The rapidly developing organs and systems of a newborn include the brain, eyes, and the immune system. The nutrients in the food are responsible for their rapid growth and development. In this AptParenting article, we have provided a list of vital nutrients your infant needs while growing. Try to include them in your little one’s daily diet.
Key Nutrients for Babies
For kids and adults alike, calcium is the most important nutrient because it prevents brittleness in bones, which further leads to osteoporosis. A sufficient amount of calcium in the body helps infants acquire a considerable amount of bone density and develop strong bones. This prevents bone injuries when kids start with their rigorous physical activities like running around the house, climbing up and down the stairs, or even playing sports.
Required Amount: During the first year, breast milk and formula are capable of satisfying the calcium requirements of the baby. Later on, the infant needs approximately 500 milligrams of calcium per day.
Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K are also major contributors to your baby’s healthy growth and development.
Vitamin A is essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy hair, skin, mucus membranes, proper vision, healthy immune system, and reproductive system.
0-6 months – 0.4 milligrams Retinol Active Equivalent/day
7-12 months – 0.5 milligrams Retinol Active Equivalent/day
Vitamin D contributes by helping the body to utilize the calcium and phosphorus consumed through the food.
Required Amount: 0.005 milligrams/day
Vitamin K is responsible for proper functioning of the blood clotting process in the body.
0-6 months – 0.002 milligrams/day
7-12 months – 0.0025 milligrams/day
Vitamin E performs the important function of preventing breakdown of the tissues, and protecting vitamin A and fatty acids in the body.
0-6 months – 4 milligrams/day
7-12 months – 5 milligrams/day
Vitamin C is one nutrient that performs multiple functions like, healing wounds, forming collagen (protein) that gives structure to the bones, muscles, cartilage, and blood vessels, helps the body resist infections, and enhances the absorption of iron.
0-6 months – 40 milligrams/day
7-12 months – 50 milligrams/day
Vitamin B12 is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system, and maintaining healthy blood cells.
0-6 months – 0.0004 milligrams/day
7-12 months – 0.0005 milligrams/day
Vitamin B6 helps the body protein to build up tissues, and aids fat metabolism.
0-6 months – 0.1 milligrams/day
7-12 months – 0.3 milligrams/day
It is a mineral that is a vital component of hemoglobin (a part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to various parts of the body) and myoglobin (a part of muscle cells that stores oxygen and several enzymes in the body). In other words, iron is a mineral that is essential for the formation and proper growth of healthy blood cells, and the prevention of anemia.
As mentioned earlier, iron is the most important nutrient that enhances brain development in newborns. Normal healthy babies have a sufficient amount of iron to satisfy their nutritional needs for the first 4 months, but premature babies may be deprived of the iron that is accumulated during the last trimester of pregnancy. This deficiency may affect their thought process and motor skills. Hence, it is important to include a good amount of iron in the diet of infants.
0-6 months – 0.27 milligrams/day
7-12 months – 11 milligrams/day
Like vitamin C, zinc also performs several functions, and hence, its deficiency may lead to several health problems. It is a mineral that is a component of several enzymes in the body, and is involved in most of the metabolic processes. It is essential for brain cognition and development. Apart from that, it is also essential for proper cell growth and repair, and maintenance of the immune system. It also helps in the formation of blood and protein in the body, and enhances wound healing.
0-6 months – 2 milligrams/day
7-12 months – 5 milligrams/day
Along with these 4 vital nutrients, carbohydrates and proteins also contribute towards the healthy growth of the newborn. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for babies during their initial developmental years. If carbohydrates are not ingested in sufficient amounts, the growth of the baby is stunted, as the proteins in the body are utilized for energy production. The daily requirement of carbohydrate for 0-6 months old infants is 60 grams, whereas for 7-12 month old infants, it is 95 grams. On the other hand, proteins are essential for tissue replacement in an infant’s body, and the daily requirement of proteins during the first year ranges from 9 to 13 grams per day.
Finally, ask your pediatrician, whether it is necessary to start any nutrition supplements for your baby while you are breastfeeding, because, sometimes, only breastfeeding during the first 6 months may not fulfill the requirement of all the nutrients.