Healthy Eating & Nutrition

Healthy Eating and Nutrition

Healthy Eating & Nutrition

Whether you're just thinking about getting pregnant or your kiddo is already scooting around, nutrition plays an important role in your child's growth and development. Find out how to support healthy eating habits from the beginning and learn more about the nutrients you and your child need at whatever stage you're at now.

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Feeding
Dietary
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Pregnancy nutrition: what do I need to know?

Proper pregnancy nutrition from the start can influence your baby's health. Watch this video to learn what types of foods you should be including and the average recommended weight gain for a healthy pregnancy.
Prenatal Supplements

Prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements

Pregnancy has specific nutritional needs for supporting your baby’s healthy development and maintaining your well-being. What you eat during pregnancy and while breastfeeding directly influences fetus development and your baby’s future health. It can be difficult, even with a healthy diet, to meet all the nutritional requirements of pregnancy. Taking a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement, as recommended by your obstetrician, helps ensure that you and your baby are getting the nutritional support you require.

It's a good idea to start prenatal supplements when you're trying to get pregnant. Be sure to look for these nutrients in your prenatal supplement and in the foods you eat!

 

Getting enough Folic Acid and Iron

 

Folic Acid (Folate) is a B Vitamin that plays an important role as your baby’s neural tube develops into the spine and brain. This occurs very early in pregnancy (often before you’re even aware you’re pregnant).

 

Iron is needed in extra supply because, between you and your baby, there’s a big increase in blood volume. More blood means more red blood cells that depend on Iron; not enough can lead to anemia. Don’t take more Iron than your obstetrician recommends; a mega dose of Iron can cause problems such as a Zinc imbalance.

 

Calcium

 

If you don’t eat dairy foods or only eat them in limited amounts, a daily Calcium supplement is essential. But don’t count on a prenatal supplement to have all the Calcium you need, which is 1,000 mg daily. Taking a Calcium supplement separately, split into 300 mg several times a day, can help you get the Calcium you need. Talk to your doctor about your individual calcium supplement needs, and don’t overdo it, as a large amount can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb Iron.

 

DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid

 

There is growing evidence that the DHA supply in your body, while pregnant, may affect the early childhood growth and development of your baby. This fatty acid helps support your baby’s brain and eye development. Naturally occurring in fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, a more consistent way to get DHA is through a supplement. The recommended daily amount is 300 mg DHA, typically available as fish oil or a marine algae-based supplement.

 

Choline

 

Choline is an essential nutrient that helps support brain development. It can be found in foods such as liver, fish, eggs and wheat germ. It's recommended that during pregnancy (and breastfeeding) mothers receive 550mg each day, so if your diet is not rich in these foods be sure to talk to your doc about a choline supplement.

 

What about probiotics?

 

Probiotics are often called "friendly bacteria" and can be helpful in supporting your digestive health when consumed on a regular basis. They are found in foods such as yogurt. Talk with your obstetrician if a probiotic supplement could be helpful to you.

 

With or without food?

 

Prenatal supplements are best when taken with food or right after eating. The nutrients are better absorbed with food.

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Nourishing

Your baby's nutritional needs

Breastmilk is nature's perfect food. Your infant is growing at a rapid pace, and breastmilk supplies your baby's nutritional needs for the first several months of life and is the main source of nutrition for the first year. If you are formula feeding, rest assured that infant formulas are the only safe and nutritious substitute.
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healthy_preemie_growth

Supporting healthy growth in your preemie

The doctors and staff that cared for your baby in the NICU may have talked to you about the importance of nutrition. While your baby is now big enough and strong enough to be home with you, he may still have special nutritional needs.

If you’re having any trouble with breastfeeding or think your baby’s formula should be changed,

 

While weight gain is very important, keep in mind that weight is not the measure of growth. All babies need to grow in weight, and also in length and head circumference. Preemies need the right balance of nutrients to help promote growth and to help their muscles and organs develop well.

 

 

Your baby’s feeding plan

 

When your baby is getting ready to leave the NICU, his doctor or dietitian will work with you to develop a special feeding plan. The plan may include only breastfeeding, breastfeeding and formula feeding together, or formula feeding alone. After leaving the NICU, your baby’s pediatrician will continue to monitor the feeding plan, and adjust as needed.

 


Breastfeeding and Providing Breastmilk

 

Breastmilk provides many benefits to your premature baby. Breastfeeding is an important time for you and your baby to share, and can help the two of you bond.



Unless your baby has a special medical situation, his doctor will likely encourage you to breastfeed and provide breastmilk. However, depending on your baby’s age weight, and how much he’s eating, breastmilk may not provide enough nutrition alone. In this case, your baby’s feeding plan may include a combination of the following:

 

  • Some breastfeeding sessions
  • Pumped breastmilk that has been fortified with a special formula
  • Pumped breastmilk without fortification
  • Some feeding sessions of a specialized premature infant formula

 

Supplementation of your breastmilk may continue for a few weeks to months after your preemie goes home, depending on his growth rate. As soon as your baby’s doctor feels his growth is on track, he’ll likely advise you to breastfeed exclusively until complementary foods are added to the diet as long as you aren't having any trouble with breastfeeding.

 

 

Formula Feeding

 

Your baby's doctor will advise you on the best feeding plan to follow at home and what formula to feed.

 

All infants grow differently, so your baby’s growth will be monitored closely by his doctor and the feeding plan adjusted accordingly. If you think your baby's formula should be changed discuss it with his doctor.

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Homemade

Homemade baby food how-tos

If you’re making your own baby food, it’s important to know the right texture and consistency for your baby’s milestone. Talk to your pediatrician about your baby’s stage of development and how his food should be pureed, or for older babies, mashed.
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Understanding sugar

Understanding sugar

Your little baby was born with a fondness for sweet tastes, so it’s natural for them to want and like sugar. Find out more about the different types of sugars and how to make sure your baby isn't getting too much.

Natural sugars vs. added sugars

 

There are two basic types of sugar that can appear in your baby’s diet: sugar that comes from nature and added sugar. A baby’s body can’t tell the difference between them, and both kinds of sugars are digested and broken down the same way.

 

Natural sugars can be found in nutritious foods in your baby’s diet, like fruits, and also in foods you may not think of as “sweet”: breastmilk, milk and milk products, and vegetables. Added sugars, such as brown or white table sugars, syrups, honey, corn syrup and other sweeteners, can be added to foods in your baby’s diet for taste and sometimes to play a role in functions, such as helping foods brown and adding texture.

 

What's wrong with added sugars?

 

The problem with too many added sugars in foods in your baby’s diet is that they usually are found in foods with little other nutrition. Plus, foods that have added sugars, such as soft drinks, cakes, cookies and other sweet desserts, can push more nutritious foods out of your baby’s diet. Fruit is a great way to give your baby something sweet each day in his diet. Soft, diced fruit or fruit purees are better than sweet desserts since they offer nutrients along with a naturally sweet taste. And don’t forget, too many sugary foods are not healthy for your baby’s teeth!

 

Check the nutrition facts

 

To check how much total sugar is in your baby’s food, look for “Sugars” listed on the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods, under “Total Sugar,"—which represents all the sugar in the product, natural and added. On a separate line you'll see the added sugar on its own.

 

Read the ingredients

 

You can also look for added sugars in your baby’s foods by reading the ingredients list. Added sugar goes by many names, including corn syrup, fructose, rice syrup, dextrose, sugar or sucrose, molasses, honey, cane syrup and others. Ingredients are listed in order from the highest to the lowest amounts, so if you see these or other added sugars at the top of the list that means the product has a large amount of added sugar.

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Toddler lunch ideas | packing healthy Toddler meals for on the go

Need inspiration for your toddler's lunch ideas? Watch to learn ways to add variety to toddler meals and prep them for on-the-go eating.
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Healthy eating habits for your 2-year-old

Serving a variety of food for Preschoolers from each food group helps ensure your child gets the nutrients he needs and help establish healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Watch to learn what food groups and how much you should consider giving your Preschooler.
Did you know?
Your breastmilk is the ideal food for your baby's nutritional needs, and will help give him the best start in life.
Prenatal Nutrient Quiz
Know more about prenatal nutrients
Healthy eating is one of the best gifts you can give your growing baby. While you always need a variety of healthy foods to provide adequate nutrition, during pregnancy you also need to supplement with some nutrients that are especially important and hard to eat enough of. Why are these nutrients so important for you and your baby? Take this quick quiz to find out.

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