Nutrition For Babies
Proper nutrition for babies will help ensure that they grow and thrive.
Human milk and infant formula have all the nutrients your baby needs for the first 6 months – protein, fats, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Human milk contains additional components (e.g. immune defense proteins) that are not present in infant formula.
Let’s take a look at why all these nutrients are so important.
The fats in human milk, infant formula and food provide your baby with energy and essential fats—linoleic and linolenic acids, fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K, as well as other fats that have many benefits.
Fats are high in energy which is especially important for infants.
A baby’s stomach is small and can only hold small amounts of food at a time. Their food therefore needs to be high in fat to give them the energy they need in a concentrated form and in quantities with which their stomachs can cope.
“Essential fats” means our bodies cannot produce them, and we need to get them from our diet. They play an important role in maintaining the proper functioning of cell membranes.
Fats help keep your baby healthy and are important in brain and eye development.
Protein forms part of all cells in the body, is needed to make new cells and is important for your baby’s growth. The amount of protein in human breast milk is perfectly suited to the growth rate of human infants.
Human Breast Milk
Breast milk alone is the best source of nutrients for infants and is the gold standard for good nutrition from birth up to 6 months of age.
Human milk provides nutrients in the quantities and proportions required to sustain an infant’s growth and development during the first months of life. It also strengthens the immune system of your baby, helps keep your baby healthy, and improves development. What’s more, human milk can provide the basis of healthy nutrition until an infant is one year old or more, right until weaning is complete.
Human milk is therefore the ideal food for a normal, healthy infant. It provides adequate quantities of nutrients, in correctly balanced proportions.
The infant’s nutritional needs
All babies are different and so are their needs. This means that babies can regulate the amount of nutrition they need by taking more or less milk, both human milk and infant formula. That is how they make sure they get the right amount of energy, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins.
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IMPORTANT NOTICE: Mothers should continue breastfeeding during and after the introduction of complementary foods. As babies grow at different paces, health professionals should advise the parents on the appropriate time when their baby should start receiving complementary foods.
This fact sheet contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.