Off to a nourishing start
- Breastmilk or iron-fortified infant formula is all the nutrition a baby needs for the first six months.
- Feeding according to hunger and fullness cues, and not by a set schedule, should meet baby’s nutritional needs.
- Probiotics help support your baby’s healthy immune system.
- DHA and ARA, both fatty acids, play an important role in baby’s brain and eye development.
Your infant is growing at a rapid pace, and breastmilk supplies his needs for the first several months of life. If you are formula-feeding, rest assured that infant formula can also provide the nutrition he needs.
Your newborn or young infant, whether breast- or formula-fed, should be fed in response to his own hunger and fullness cues, not by the clock. This approach should ensure that your baby is getting the nutrition he needs.
Your baby’s nutritional needs
- Calories – Between birth and 3 to 4 months, babies need, on average, about 550 calories a day.
- Protein – The building block for muscles.
- Calcium – Builds the foundation for bone structure; Magnesium, Phosphorous and Vitamin C also help with bone development.
- Vitamin D – Helps absorb Calcium to promote healthy bone growth.
- B Vitamins – Helps turn calories into usable energy.
- Iron and Iodine — Critical for brain development and for creating healthy red blood cells.
- Vitamins A, E, C, & Zinc – Help support the developing immune system.
- DHA and ARA — Important fatty acids for the brain and eye development.
Good to know
Up until 4-6 months of age, breastmilk or infant formula provides all the nutrition a baby needs.
The probiotic story
Probiotics are micro-organisms, sometimes added to infant formulas, which provide benefits such as supporting digestive health or immune system development. Different strains of probiotics offer different benefits, but they also have to be consumed in adequate amounts. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby may be getting plenty of probiotics through your milk. If you’re formula-feeding your baby, he can still benefit from a formula that contains added probiotics.
Examples of two probiotics added to infant formula are:
Lactobacillus reuteri, known as L. reuteri and Bifidobacterium lactis, known as Bifidus BL
Babies delivered with a C-section may particularly benefit from added probiotics since they may not have been exposed to the maternal flora (the natural bacteria present in the birth canal) as babies who were delivered naturally. Whether you are exclusively formula-feeding or just supplementing breastmilk with formula, your baby may benefit from added probiotics.
All about fatty acids
Did you know that fat makes up 60% of the human brain? Two fatty acids play an important role in supporting your baby’s brain and eye development: DHA (docosahexaenoic) and ARA (arachidonic acid). If you’re breastfeeding, your baby can naturally get these from your milk depending on your diet. If you’re formula-feeding, your baby may benefit from the added DHA and ARA available in infant formulas.
Is supplementation necessary?
Breastmilk and infant formula can provide all the nutrients your baby needs until about 4 to 6 months. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends Vitamin D supplementation for breastfed-only infants. Between 4 and 6 months, the Iron your baby is born with can become depleted and should be replenished; that’s why Iron-fortified cereal is recommended as their first solid food. Check with your pediatrician to find out what your baby’s supplementation needs may be.
How was the information in this article?