As a parent, the health and overall well-being of your child is the most important thing in the world. There is not and should not be anything that comes before it. This is what being a parent is about, protecting and caring for the little one from the moment they are born. It is a role that never stops, something you will keep doing until the rest of your life. Of course, children are the most vulnerable and fragile when they are still infants because they completely rely on their mother and father for support, food, and guidance.
The crucial one of these is of course the food part. Babies have to be on strict diets rich in all the right nutrients that allow for a faster growth and proper development. But how can the parents be sure that their little one is actually getting everything it needs? Sure, buying the right food and preparing baby recipes is the only way to go about this, but there could still not be enough of the right nutrients in there for the baby to flourish.
Worry not, as we talk about this very topic right in the article ahead. Keep reading to find out about the ways through which you can make sure your baby is getting all the right nutrients, and the right amount of them. For additional information about this as well as the best place to buy organic baby food that has everything a baby requires, be sure to check out Organic’s Best.
1. Breastmilk and Formula are not Enough
Although it may seem like everything an infant needs, particularly in the first year of its life, breastmilk and formula are not enough as it approaches 12 months. These two food sources contain most of the calories and nutrition the little one requires, but other foods rich in nutrients should also be slowly introduced into the diet. This is important for the development of healthier and more diverse eating habits in the future. In addition, nutrient gaps exist at around 6 months that need to be bridged. Certain vitamins and minerals can only be introduced by other food, most of which play major roles in growth and development. Making sure the baby eats all of them is how you help them have a nourishing and varied diet that will benefit them.
2. Zinc, Vitamins, and Omega 3
The basic elements, vitamins, and nutrients the baby needs aside from what it gets from breastmilk and formula are not that difficult to find nor feed. Zinc, Vitamins C, A, and D, and Omega 3 fatty acids are mostly what you need to worry about.
Zinc can be found in beef, lamb, turkey, shrimp, pumpkin and sesame seeds, yogurt, spinach, lentils, grains, and a few other sources. There are many recipes to include these foods into your baby’s diet.
Regarding vitamin C, it is found in numerous fruits and veggies, particularly orange, grapefruit, red bell pepper, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi, and tomato. Baby food usually contains a lot of these anyway so just make sure to get the right stuff.
Dark green leafy veggies like spinach, beet, kale, and collards are rich in vitamin A, as are carrots, sweet potatoes, and basically any other orange and red fruits and vegetables. There is also a lot of it in fortified whole milk and yogurt.
Seafood like tuna and sardines, egg yolk, and whole grain cereals are the best sources of vitamin D. According to research by pediatrics, infants need 400 international units of this vitamin in liquid form each day, quite soon after birth. This goes both for combination fed infants and breastfed infants.
Lastly, omega 3 acids can mostly be found in salmon, sardines, algae, canola and soybean oil, walnuts, and chia.
3. Know How Much Baby Should Eat
Knowing the right amount of nutrients a baby needs is not possible without knowing how much it needs to eat overall. From 6 to 9 months of age, babies are still learning how to eat solids, so most of their diets will be liquids (purees and such). A baby in this stage of infancy requires 2 to 3 meals per day, each of them only 2 to 4 tablespoons.
Each child is different but this range is usually right. Pay attention to the cues the child gives out to know if it wants more or if it is full. Licking lips, rooting for milk, sucking fingers, and putting their hands to mouth are signs it is still hungry. Longer and longer pauses, fidgeting and uneasiness, and turning the head away from the food are obvious signs of a full tummy.
When they reach 9 months, they are ready for 3 full meals and 1 to 2 nutritious snacks. By its 12th month, it will increase to 3 full meals and 2 to 3 nutritious snacks daily. That should be it when it comes to the most vulnerable infancy stage during the first year of their life.
4. Check the Diapers and Pediatric Charts
It is not all about changing the food itself, not at all. Arguably the best ways of checking if the baby is getting enough nutrients come through other means which are not directly connected to feeding the baby. Here, it is about the results of the diet.
A dirty diaper is your best insight into how the baby is handling its food and whether it is getting enough nutrients. Typically, a baby has five or six wet diapers a day. If there are fewer, it may not be getting enough formula. If there are only 3 or 4, try increasing the meal sizes and see what happens. It is always best to increase the amount of formula before increasing the amount of other foods. You cannot really go wrong with the formula.
Last but not least, you should also pay close attention to the pediatric growth chart and how your baby is coming along. Fluctuations in the baby’s position on the chart usually means there has been overeating or undereating. Consult with your physician on this if the baby falls under a category that is somehow out of line, or if it is constantly going up and down based on the proper development plan.