Nutritional Needs of Infants and Toddlers
In most cases, breast milk or formula can provide the nutrients your baby needs in the first four to six months. After 4 to 6 months of age, as the baby’s diet gradually changes from a full-liquid diet to a diet with more and more solid foods, he may or may not need additional nutritional supplements. It will depend on how balanced the baby’s diet of six categories (grains, roots, rhizomes, meat, fish, egg, milk, oils and fats, vegetables and fruits).
But there are exceptions. For example, if the baby was born premature, at a low birth weight, or has a small gestational age at birth, extra vitamin supplements may be needed. Or, compared with other babies of the same age, if the baby has been drinking less breast milk or formula, yet there is no additional supplements from food to make up the insufficiency. Or, if the baby has poor appetite, poor food intake of the main meal, excessive partial eclipse, or do not like to eat fruits and vegetables, and thus cause imbalance of nutrition, then parents should consider nutritional supplements to help the baby to supplement moderately.
The health of the mother will also affect the nutrition of breast milk. For example, mothers who have undergone gastric bypass surgery or take certain medications daily may have a poorer ability to absorb nutrients, which could reduce nutrients in breast milk. Or if the breastfeeding mothers are vegetarians, lacking vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids are often occurred. Vegan mothers and babies may need extra effort to make up insufficient nutrients through food or multivitamin mineral supplements.
The nutritional status of most infants and young children in Taiwan is either over-nutrition or deficiency. “Balanced Nutrition” is the key to make your baby grow up healthily. Nutritional unbalanced babies, their development may be slow. Therefore, it is important to develop a good eating habit when the baby is 1 to 3 years old. Get balanced nutrients from food, along with additional supplementations recommended by doctors, can help the baby build a good foundation in the key periods of growth and develop good intelligence and physical strength.
For babies who need supplemental nutrition, here are two principles as guidelines for Daddy and Mommy to follow: First, in addition to carefully observing whether the baby really needs nutritional supplements, you can also consult doctors and get advised. Then aim at the missing nutrients, get the right amount supplements whether by food or nutritional supplements. However, do not try to supplement everything, that will only make the baby’s nutrition more imbalanced. Second, when babies supplement the nutrition, the dose should be much less than adults. Because the baby’s body organs are not yet fully developed, the amount of need is less than that of adults. Must be aware of the dosage on the label. The excessive amounts of vitamins may cause the baby’s physical burden. Here are some nutritional supplements your baby’s doctor may recommend :
Iron deficiency is a common syndrome in children, especially in infants from 6 months to 2 years old. A large number of studies have proven that iron deficiency in infants and young children might affect the growth and development. Both breast milk and formula contain iron, but when the baby starts to eat solid food, the demand for iron will gradually increase. The faster the baby grows and develops, the more iron is needed, and the more likely it is to have iron deficiency. Studies have shown that normal full-term babies have an iron storage of 280 mg at birth, but this only meets the iron the baby needs 4-6 months after birth. The baby’s iron requirement in 6 months is 0.3 mg / day, and will increase directly to 10 mg / day after 6 months. It is important for your baby to get a good source of iron from food. Good sources include meat puree, iron fortified grains and lentils, lentils, kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans. If your baby does not eat enough iron-rich foods, your baby’s doctor may suggest iron supplementation. In addition, for premature infants, twins, multiple births are more likely to have anemia and usually have more needs to supplement iron.
Vitamin D –
Only a small amount of vitamin D will be transferred to breast milk. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends that you give your breast-fed baby supplement 400 IU of vitamin D daily from birth. Infants who are exclusively breastfed or partially formula-fed but drink less than 32 ounces of formula per day also need to replenish 400 IU of vitamin D daily. Our bodies produce vitamin D after the skin is exposed to sunshine. In general, babies within 6 months should not be exposed to sunlight directly. Because baby’s skin is very delicate; when expose to the sun improperly, it is easy to cause skin burns. Meanwhile, if the sun directly hit baby’s eyes, it is also easy to cause cataracts, the risk is high. Sunscreens could help keep your baby safe in the sun, but it also blocks the rays that enable the body to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in helping the body absorb and use calcium; in fact, the body cannot absorb calcium at all without some vitamin D. As a result, in order to make the child’s bones growth, Vitamin D deficiency cannot be overlooked.
Vitamin B12 –
Vitamin B12 is critical for the development of the nervous system. This vitamin is naturally found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy products. If you are breastfeeding and you don’t eat much (or any) animal protein, it’s important to have a regular and reliable source of vitamin B12 – whether it’s from a supplement or fortified foods – so your baby’s diet will contain adequate amounts of the vitamin B12.
DHA is an omega-3s fatty acid that is important for babies. 6 months to 2 years old is the fastest growing age of your baby. DHA can help your baby’s developmental needs. In addition, the baby’s intake of appropriate amount of DHA can affect his ability to respond and observe, which can promote his hand-eye coordination ability. The content of DHA in the diet of the breastfeeding mothers is shown proportionally in her breast milk. In short, if your DHA intake is low, your breast milk levels will be low. Breastfeeding mothers who do not consume DHA from food sources – especially vegans and vegetarians – may need to consider taking DHA supplements. According to some researches, vegans and vegetarians’ moms and their babies have lower levels of DHA in their blood than those who eat meat.