Why Is Nutrition Important for an Infant?

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Nutrition plays a crucial role in the early stages of an infant's life, laying the foundation for their growth, development, and overall health. Adequate nutrition supports the rapid physical and cognitive development that occurs during infancy. It provides essential nutrients necessary for building strong bones, muscles, and organs, as well as supporting the development of the brain and nervous system. Proper nutrition also boosts the immune system, helping infants fight off infections and illnesses.


What Are the Most Important Nutrients in a Baby's Diet?

Babies need all nutrients, including protein, calcium, whole grains and much more. Some nutrients are more essential to the health of an infant than others. Discover more about which nutrients are essential to a baby's diet below:


Protein and Calcium

The crucial nutrients for a baby's growth are protein and calcium. Breast milk and formula provide most of the protein a baby needs. After the first year, introduce other protein-rich foods like eggs, meat, chicken, fish, tofu, and some grains. Calcium-rich foods like whole milk cheese, yoghurt, ricotta, and cottage cheese can also be added to a baby's diet. They contain protein and are nutritious.


Whole Grains and Complex Carbohydrates

Whole grains and complex carbohydrates are high chair favourites, which will provide essential vitamins and minerals along with some protein to the baby's daily intake. Some good options include whole-grain bread and whole-grain cereal.


Vitamins A, B, C and E

Four vitamins that boost your baby's health by promoting healthy brain and nerve development, proper functioning, and development of the eyes, skin, and immune system. To get these essential vitamins into your baby's diet, feed them a variety of colourful foods. Carrots and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, green veggies, bananas, and beans are packed with B vitamins, tomatoes, strawberries, and cantaloupe are full of C, and cereal and grains are rich in E.


High-Fat Foods

Babies who get most of their calories from breast milk and/or formula get all the fat and cholesterol they need. As they switch to a more varied diet, it's important to make sure that fat and cholesterol intake doesn't dip too low. That's why most dairy products you serve baby (cottage cheese, yoghurt, hard cheese) should be full-fat or made from whole milk. You can also add a healthy dose of fat by serving avocado or cooking with canola or olive oil.



Iron is another essential nutrient that your baby needs. Bottle-fed babies get their full share of iron from fortified formula, but breastfed babies need another source. Starting when your baby is 4 months old, ask your paediatrician if you should give her a liquid iron supplement until you start adding iron-rich solids to her diet. Fortified baby cereal can fit the bill easily, and additional iron can come from iron-rich foods such as meat, egg yolks, wheat germ, whole-grain bread, cereals, cooked dried peas, and other legumes as they are introduced into the diet.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, are vital for your infant's growth, vision, and optimal brain development. These fabulous fats are served up naturally in breast milk but are also used to enrich some formulas and baby foods. Once your baby's eating repertoire expands, you can add other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish (like salmon), grass-fed meat, tofu, flaxseed, canola oil, and DHA-enriched yoghurt, cereal, and eggs.


What Should You Do If You Think Your Baby Is Not Eating Enough?

If you're worried that your baby is not eating enough, it's important to remember that you may not need to worry as long as your baby is growing at a healthy rate. Your paediatrician will measure your baby's growth curve using a growth chart to determine if she is getting enough to eat. However, if you still suspect that your baby is not eating enough, it's best to talk to your child's doctor. They can evaluate your baby's feeding habits further and refer you to a nutritionist or feeding centre if necessary.


Breastmilk or Formula?

Breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby for the first six months of life. It provides all the necessary nutrition that your baby requires during this time. If you are breastfeeding, your baby will need to eat every two to three hours. You can tell if your baby is getting enough milk by checking if there are frequent wet and dirty diapers if he or she looks satisfied after feeding, and if your healthcare provider says that your baby is growing well.

On the other hand, if you are formula feeding, you should not give cow's milk to your baby until he or she is one year old. Consult your healthcare provider about the formula that you can use. Formula-fed babies usually eat every three to four hours. A one-month-old baby will typically consume 4 ounces of formula per feeding. This amount will increase to 6 to 8 ounces of formula by the time the baby is six months old. However, the amount your baby eats may vary from day to day and meal to meal as he or she grows.


Which Does Not Need to Be Added To an Infant's Diet?

It is not necessary to add salt or sugar to an infant's diet. In addition, some certain foods and beverages are not safe for your child to consume, while others are not as healthy as others. It is important to avoid giving honey to your child before they reach 12 months of age, as it may cause a severe and potentially fatal type of food poisoning called botulism.

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