Nutrition For Babies: How To Fulfil Your Baby’s Dietary Needs
- Anoush Gomes
- 4 Min Read
- Fact Checked
Having a newborn at home can be both a happy and stressful time. It can be overwhelming to understand all the requirements of a newborn. These tiny humans are completely dependent on their mothers for the required nutrition to grow and develop. Nutrition for babies is one of the topics that is most discussed among the parenting community. However, while there are different diets babies are fed around the world, there are dietary requirements for newborn babies that need to be met.
For a newborn, their mother’s breast milk is the golden ticket. It contains vitamins, nutrients and antibodies that will help the baby develop as per their growth chart. This article will not only get into the normal diet for infants, but will also dig a little deeper. From what a healthy baby should weigh to what foods to be avoided, this article is your go to guide on how to fulfill your baby’s dietary needs.
Why is good nutrition for babies important?
Proper nutrition is extremely vital for an infant’s growth and development stages. During the first year of their lives babies are to triple their weight. In order to do this, they are to be fed the right amount of nutrients compared to any other point in their lives.
What are the dietary requirements for newborn babies?
In the first 6 months of life breastmilk is the best source of nutrition. If the child can’t be breastfed, formula is a good alternative. There are many benefits to breastmilk. It not only helps the newborn, but also the mother. Biologically speaking, as your infant grows, the breast milk you produce will change to meet their nutritional needs. Below are some of the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child.
|Benefits of breastfeeding for mother||Benefits of breastfeeding for child|
|– Better working metabolism and increased postpartum weight loss
– Oxytocin released during breastfeeding helps in stimulation of uterus to return to size before birth
– Lower risk of postpartum bleeding and complications
– Lower risks of breast and ovarian cancer
– Lower risk of illness such as endometriosis, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension and iron-deficiency anemia
– Less risk of postpartum blues
|– Stronger immune system development
– Lower risks of chronic illnesses such as asthma, obesity, diabetes
– Lower risks of sudden infant death syndrome
– Less gastrointestinal concerns such as diarrhea, constipation, gastroesophageal reflux, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
– Lower risks of respiratory illness such as whooping cough, colds, pneumonia
– Lower rates of mortality
– Lower risk of Type-1 diabetes, allergies and colitis
What is a healthy weight for a baby?
The average weight for a baby is 3 kg and the average length is about 50cm. For the mother, there are some points to keep in mind though. Male babies usually tend to weigh more than female babies, first borns are usually lighter than the siblings after them and the size of the parents can be reflected on their children.
As per experts, infants will lose about 225-227 g (upto 10% of the birth weight) in the first week of their life. They gain that weight back at about 12-14 days old. A newborn is expected to gain 15-30g a day or 100-210g a week.
Watch Dr. Aparna C, neonatologist and pediatrician in the video below to learn about what it means for a baby to be of healthy weight.
What is the normal diet for an infant?
It is recommended that a child be breastfed for the first 6 months of their life. While after 6 months, breast milk can still be the best source of nutrition for them, parents can add solid soft foods to their diet. This could include dairy, eggs, poultry, fish, fruits and veggies. Please keep in mind to avoid any food your child may be allergic to. Follow the table below to understand what to feed your baby from 6-12 months and what to feed babies that are not breastfed after 6 months as well.
|6-9 months (with breastmilk)||– Soft foods: half a cup, 2-3x/day
– Avoid honey (until the child is 12 months)
Foods can include mashed fruits or veggies in between meals. Baby is to be fed between nursing sessions or after breastfeeding sessions
|10-12 months (with breastmilk)||– Half a cup of food: half a cup 3-4x/day. Foods can be semi solid.
– Breastfeed when baby is hungry in between meal times
Foods can include grains, potatoes, fruits, veggies, dairy eggs, meat and fish.
If your child is not being breastfed after 6 months of age and when soft foods are introduced, they would have to eat more meals during the day. This would include milk products, semi-solid foods and solid foods for 8 months. The child will need three spoonfuls of mashed food 4x a day, and at 6-8 months would need half a cup of soft foods 4x a day. From 9-12 months, they would need half a cup of food 4-5x a day along with 2 healthy snacks.
Watch the video below to understand a bit more on nutrition for babies.
Foods to be avoided for infants
Foods that contain too much salt, sugar, saturated fat, honey, and nuts should be avoided. Additionally, raw shellfish and eggs should also be avoided. Do not force feed the child. If they spit out or refuse new foods, you can try a few days later. Make sure the meal is easy on your baby and also packed with nutrition. Eating a variety of foods every day will give a chance to get all the nutrients, baby needs.
Have more questions and doubts? Download a Free Breastfeeding Guide curated by medical experts.
Nutrition for babies can be a subjective topic considering diets are different in different households. Should you have any questions or notice that your child is losing weight or has any nutrient deficiencies, consulting a pediatrician will help. There are also medical reasons as to why children may refuse to eat or why they are unable to extract nutrients from what they eat and drink. Home remedies are not recommended when treating a child, so don’t diagnose or medicate your child without the supervision of a pediatrician