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Baby Nutrition - from 0-6 months

We all require a variety of nutrients in various quantities at different stages of our lives - and babies are no different! 

Proper nutrition promotes the optimal growth and development of babies; a deficiency can affect the development process, and may even have a negative impact on the child’s well-being in the future. 

Babies grow so rapidly after birth: in the first 12 months they usually double their length and triple their weight! So it’s easy to see why proper nutrition is vital at this important stage.

In this three-part series, nutritionist Leila Johari will share her thoughts on nutrition for growing babies - why it is so important, and what we can do to make sure our babies are getting all the nutrients they need.

In this, part one, we look at the nutritional needs of babies from 0 – 6 months.

During pregnancy, your incredible baby will build up their body's store of nutrients like iron, to suffice for the first 5 -6 months of their life. But what are the other nutrients that babies need and how can we be sure that they receive the right nutrients in the right amounts? 

The most essential nutrients at this stage are carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals. Below is a brief explanation of how these nutrients will give your baby what they need to grow big and strong in those first few months.

Carbohydrates – main source of energy used by the body

Protein – contributes to a small amount of energy used by the body and is essential for growth as it provides the building blocks for the growing body

Fat – also contributes to energy used by the body, helps aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E & K) and is vital for growth and development

Vitamins and Minerals – are vital and consist of a large group of nutrients to assist in protection and functioning of the body.



Breast Milk and Formula Milk

Breast milk provides all the nutrition your baby needs in the first 6 months of life, including water. The amazing thing about breast milk is that it is constantly changing to match the needs of your baby as he/she grows and develops! There are three types of breast milk, depending on the stage of lactation.

Colostrum - this is not really milk. It is more like a yellowish/creamy and thick secretion produced during the first few days after birth. It contains fat soluble vitamins, minerals and high amounts of protein and immunoglobulins which are antibodies to help build the baby’s immune system. The overall fat content is less than in the later stages.

Transitional Milk - after day seven, a more milky substance is produced. It lasts for about two weeks and contains high levels of fat, lactose and water-soluble vitamins. It is higher in calories than colostrum.
Mature milk - this is the final milk that is produced. It is composed of 90% water, which keeps the baby hydrated, and 10% carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which are required for growth and energy. Within that, there are two types of mature milk:

Foremilk, the milk at the start of feeding which contains water, vitamins and protein, and hind-milk, which comes afterwards and contains higher levels of fat and is necessary for weight gain.

Formula milk also provides the correct nutrients and water in the right amounts. Although it is hard to replicate the exact nutrients composition, formula milk has been greatly improved and contains high quality protein, vitamins and minerals as well as a blend of vegetable oils which aid the absorption of fat and calcium in addition to the essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6.

In the next addition, we will look at feeding your baby solid foods from 5-12 months.
Leila Johari is a personal trainer with an ITEC qualification in nutrition. 

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