Important nutrients for babies

Important nutrients for babies

The role of calcium, iron, zinc, and more in your baby's diet


Nutrients your baby needs and how to get them

nutrients for babies
  • Calcium
    • It's found for babies under 6 months in breastmilk and formula. 
    • Give no dairy products to babies less than one-year-old except live active culture baby yogurt to babies 9 months and older. It helps build bones and teeth.
  • Iron
    • Newborns have sufficient iron supplies that last about 5 to 6 months. 
    • For babies 5 months and older, it's found in: formula; iron-fortified cereal; egg yolk; meat; poultry. Infant cereals continue to be a good source of iron throughout the toddler years. (In adults, only 40% of iron consumed is absorbed.) 
    • Infants and toddlers, due to the limitations of their diets and high nutrient needs, require a daily food source high in iron. 
      • This prevents iron deficiency anemia, which can have an impact on physical and mental development and contributes to learning problems. It plays an important role in brain development and it carries oxygen to the blood cells.
  • Zinc
    • It's found in breastmilk and formula, whole grain foods, enriched baby cereals and meats. It is essential for growth, and for digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, protein and fats.
  • Vitamin C
    • It's found under 6 months in breastmilk and formula.
    • It's found over 6 months in breastmilk, formula, fruit. It's essential for building connective tissue, helps iron absorption and wound healing.
  • Fat
    • It's found under 6 months in breastmilk and formula. 
      • Interesting note: the fat content of breastmilk is 55%.
    • It's found over 6 months in breastmilk and formula, in a varied diet including meats and, over 12 months, in dairy products. It supplies energy and helps absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K.
  • Vitamin D
    • Birth to one year breastfed babies need 400 IU's of liquid Vitamin D per day.
    • Birth to one year formula fed babies need 400 IU's of liquid Vitamin D per day until they are drinking 32 ounces of fortified formula.
    • After one year, Toddlers get Vitamin D from milk, cheese, eggs.
  • Fluoride 
    • Before 6 months, fluoride is neither required nor recommended. Given before 6 months or in excess, fluoride can cause fluorosis, a permanent discoloration of the tooth enamel.
    • For babies 6 months and older, it's found in breastmilk, formula, vitamin supplements, and fluoridated water––either from tap or bottled nursery water. Check with your local water department to find out if your tap water is fluoridated.
    • If you have a tap water filtering system, check to see if it purifies water without removing the fluoride.
    • Bottled water and well water are not fluoridated unless specifically stated on bottle label such as "fluoridated spring water." 
    • Fluoride can be given by prescription vitamin drops for babies 6 months and older. It's necessary for good dental health and tooth formation.
    • Caution: Give vitamins with fluoride OR fluoridated water, not both.

Adapted from Nurturing with Nutrition by Dr. Melanie Bezarte and Lucille Beseler, RDN