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The 6 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Babies

Baby Nutrition

Whether you're breastfeeding, using formula, or doing both, you want to make sure your baby is getting all of the vitamins and nutrients he needs to grow big and strong. 

Here you'll learn about the 6 vital vitamins and minerals all babies need.

Breast and formula milk provide everything a baby needs up to 6 months.  Your baby will naturally begin to drink less breast milk or formula as they begin to eat solid food, and so it is vital that their nutritional needs are met.  However, providing a balanced diet containing legumes, cereal, vegetables, eggs, dairy etc will ensure this as you'll see how nutrient rich these foods are.

These tables show the standard nutritional requirements for babies up to 6 months, and from 7-12 months

Daily Nutrient Requirements 0 to 6 Months
Protein 13 grams
Iron 10 milligrams
Calcium 210 milligrams
Vitamin A 400 ug
Vitamin C 49 milligrams

 

Daily Nutrient Requirements 7 to 12 Months
Protein 14 grams
Iron 11 milligrams
Calcium 270 milligrams
Vitamin A 50 ug
Vitamin C 50 milligrams

 

1. Protein

Once solid foods are introduced - and your baby's consumption of breast milk / formula begins to decrease - then you should slowly begin to offer him a balanced diet containing legumes, cereal, vegetables, eggs, dairy etc which will provide plenty of protein.  Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, quinoa, legumes, lentils, beans, bulgur, oats, cornmeal, rice, pasta, rye, and wheat.

You should not, however, give your baby a high-protein diet unless specifically advised to do so by a medical professional.  The reason for this is that the human body does not store excess protein. Instead, the body breaks it down, producing by-products that must be eliminated via the urine.  This is why it is best to serve high protein foods (like meat) in combination with other foods, rather than serving larger quantities alone.

Remember - because your baby's body does not store protein, a little is needed every day. That's why it is preferable to offer small amount of foods containing protein on a daily basis, rather than offering large amounts all at once.

 2. Iron

Babies need iron for many different aspects of their development. Meat, poultry, cooked egg yolk and well-cooked legumes (beans, lentils, chick peas) are good sources of iron. Store-bought iron-fortified infant cereals such as rice or barley are also common first foods because they are good sources of iron.   Several studies have shown that including vitamin C in a baby’s meal can at least double the absorption of iron from cereals and legumes.  However, the calcium in cow’s milk inhibits iron absorption, so avoid feeding dairy with high-iron meals.  Instead, feed cheese and yogurt as a between-meal snack.

3. Calcium

 Throughout life, our bones undergo a lot of changes! From birth, then throughout childhood and adolescence, a great deal of bone formation takes place. A lack of calcium in infancy can lead to rickets, a conditions where the bones soften and may become deformed or may break easily.  Building strong bones from infancy not only protects against rickets but also plays a huge part in delaying bone loss in later life.

Good sources of calcium include milk, soy milk, cheese and yoghurt, lentils, sardines, kale, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, salmon, squash, oranges, chickpeas, raisins, prunes, swede, watercress and parsley.

 4. Vitamin A

 Vitamin A plays an important role in vision and bone growth and helps protect the body from infections. Vitamin A also promotes the health and growth of cells and tissues in the body, particularly those in the hair, nails, and skin.

Great sources include: carrots, sweet potato, spinach, squash, kale, cantaloupe, apricot, red bell pepper, mango, fortified oatmeal, broccoli, frozen peas,  eggs, peaches, cheese, papaya.

 

5. Vitamin C


 Vitamin C is essential for your baby's healthy growth and development. It is used in a multitude of functions throughout the body, including the growth of tissues, healing after wounds and protection against the common cold!

It's also an important anti-oxidant, which means that it helps protect the body against diseases like cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  What's more, vitamin C helps your baby effectively absorb iron and calcium from his food.

Good sources of vitamin C include: bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, potatoes, cantaloupe, parsley, blueberries, pineapple, squash, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, papaya, watermelon, mango, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, zucchini and asparagus.


6. Omega 3 Oils

Omega 3 Oils are the polyunsaturated fats found naturally in fish. Researchers continue to find that these fats may have major health benefits for children. For example, one recent study found that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help protect high-risk kids from developing type 1 diabetes.

Babies get omega-3s naturally from breast milk, but those who are formula-fed can get their supply too. Most major brands of formula now contain added DHA and ARA.

Fish is by far the richest natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, and giving your child up to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish a week is still considered a safe and healthymove. Salmon, Shrimp, canned light (not white) Tuna, and Pollock all contain omega-3s, and have the lowest levels of mercury.



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