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 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.
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.
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.
In the next addition, we will look at feeding your baby solid foods from 5-12 months.